London Hub Project

  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Yet another dream?

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realised." These famous words are attributed to Daniel Burnham, the ebullient American architect and planner who reshaped Chicago, extended Washington DC and championed the City Beautiful movement of the late 19th century.

On Wednesday, Lord Foster announced a plan so big that even Burnham would have been impressed. The Thames Hub, a £50bn project devised by architects Foster and Partners, planners and builders Halcrow and Volterra, a consultancy group of British economists, aims to revolutionise Britain's often creaking and largely inadequate national transport and energy infrastructure.

From a proposed new Thames Hub, comprising an international airport, railway terminus, freight depot and port along with a new Thames Barrier sited all together in the Thames estuary, a new four-track high-speed orbital passenger and freight railway would run around the north of London before joining main lines to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Hull, Felixstowe, Cardiff and Southampton.

Aiming to take thousand of container lorries off the roads, this radically enhanced national transport "spine" would also carry power lines and communications cables, cutting down on the need for new pylons. Built to a continental loading gauge, the railways would connect directly with high-speed passenger and freight lines in the rest of Europe.

New homes, hi-tech factories and other workplaces would be built around existing and new railway lines with tens of thousands of new homes connected directly to an ultra-modern transport network. Most new homes in Britain are currently scattered on the fringe of old towns and across the green belt with little consideration for transport and other infrastructure.

"We need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th-century forebears", said Foster on Wednesday, "if we are to establish a modern transport and energy infrastructure in Britain for this century and beyond."

The Thames Hub and the "spine" are bold plans indeed. "They're born out of necessity, enthusiasm and frustration," says Foster. "In Hong Kong, a decade ago, we were able to build a major new international airport and all the associated infrastructure including a new island reclaimed from the sea within four years. If Britain wants to compete with rapidly developing global economies, it must sort out its infrastructure and, if this is holistically planned with real political commitment it can also be a thing of beauty and environmentally friendly."

"I know it's against the national grain to come up with big plans and we'll be accused of playing Napoleon, but we have to get the debate going and show what a difference a radical new infrastructure plan could make to Britain."

"Infrastructure is the key", says David Kerr, group board director of Halcrow. "Britain ignores development and investment in infrastructure at its peril. Look around the world and you see the way in which China and Latin America are investing heavily in infrastructure. They see it as a passport to strong economic development."

Bridget Rosewell of Volterra says that, if implemented, the Thames Hub plan would generate £150bn in financial benefits alone. It has also been planned to save the green belt from rapacious commercial development, to generate hydroelectric power from the tidal Thames and to beautify transport corridors around London and along the country's main traffic arteries.

"If it went ahead, even in part," says Foster, "the very realisation of the plan would create thousands of skilled jobs in engineering, manufacturing and construction alone."

Although Britain has rarely been a country of grand plans, these have existed. The building of the railways, sewers, National Grid, motorways and water supplies are all examples of how Britain has made it in the past. Huge infrastructure projects like the city of Birmingham's water supply from the Elan Valley, completed in the early 20th century, prove how such works can be breathtakingly beautiful as well as discreet and highly effective. They can also be highly controversial, politically sensitive and hugely expensive.

"The cost of not doing anything will ultimately be much higher," says Foster, an architect used to moving mountains in the far east. "We've stuck our heads up like coconuts in a funfair expecting them to be knocked down. But we need to do something soon, and this plan is national, aiming to redress the imbalance of the economies of north and south."

Could it happen? Could we soon be flying in and out of one of the greatest ports in the world where fleets of modern aircraft, ships and trains power Britain's economy into a newly competitive age? Will we live in fine new homes connected to brand new transport, energy and communications spines and hubs? Or will we decide it's business as usual in little Britain and carry on building junk housing on what were once meadows and unsustainable supermarkets and shopping malls on the land that's left and between overcrowded roads and railways? Foster and his team have offered a big-spirited vision of Britain, but do we have eyes to see it?

Sponsored advertisement

  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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understanding the transportation challenges facing britain, london-based practice foster + partners, have collaborated with
consulting firms halcrow (international) and volterra (UK) for a self-funded study producing the 'thames hub vision', a detailed
report that uses scale and strategic cross-sector thinking to design an integrated infrastructure network. the masterplan proposes
to replace the existing thames barrier with a new crossing that will extend london's protection from floods into the 22nd century.
it will mitigate the capital from rising storm levels, free up vital land for development and harness tidal power to generate
carbon-free energy.

building on existing transportation lines to the north, east and west of london 'the hub' will avoid future congestion into the city.
an orbital rail system with a four-track, high-speed passenger and freight route will link london's current radial lines, with a
future high-speed rail line to the midlands and the north, the thames estuary ports, high speed 1, and european networks.
by minimizing the developmental impact the environmental strategy aims to provides new wildlife habitats landscaped within
the spine.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Controversial proposals for a new airport in the Thames Estuary are being backed by Downing Street, according to reports in the Financial Times.

The plans, for a four-runway 'hub' airport in the estuary to relieve pressure on the overstretched south east's airports, was until recently seen as an eccentric idea supported mainly by London's mayor, Boris Johnson (pictured).

However, according to a report in the FT, Chancellor George Osborne may have changed his mind about the proposals. Originally a sceptic, he is now looking favourably on the idea, according to several sources.

If it goes ahead, the airport may be built on reclaimed land on the Isle of Grain and would cost up to £50bn and means that Britain would boast the biggest airport in the world.

Supporters of the airport believe that much of the financing could come from the private sector.

The new airport could serve 150 million passengers a year, but local opposition from MPs, locals, councillors and the RSPB is staunch.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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This is rapidly gaining the popular name of Boris Island following support from Mayor of London Boris Johnston
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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David Cameron is set to throw his support behind the once derided plan for a new airport in the Thames Estuary, it has been reported.

The scheme, initially proposed by the London Mayor and known as 'Boris Island', is seen as a alternative to the expansion of Heathrow. Plans for a third runway at the West London airport were shelved by the coalition when it came to power.

A formal consultation on the construction of a new international hub airport to the east of the capital is due to be launched in March to coincide with the publication of the government's aviation strategy.

According to the Daily Telegraph the prime minister will support a new airport but will withhold publicly backing the plan until after the consultation process is complete.

Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that he believed the prime minister and chancellor were "increasingly interested" in his proposal for a new airport. "I think that George and Dave understand the logic to alleviating the problem," he told the BBC's Today programme.

"You can't go on expecting Britain to compete with France and Germany when we simply can't supply the flights to these growth destinations; China, Latin America, we are being badly left behind," he said.

Osborne signaled he had warmed to the idea when he told MPs that the government would "explore all the options for maintaining the UK's aviation hub status" during his Autumn Statement .

Transport secretary Justine Greening, whose West London constituency is under the Heathrow flight path, was a vocal opponent of previous plans to build a third runway at that airport.

However the prime minister, chancellor and mayor may face a battle with the Liberal Democrats as well as local Tory MPs over the plan.

The Lib Dems opposed any airport expansion in the South East of England in their manifesto. "We opposed any airport expansion in the South East and we have opposed 'Boris Island' as well," a spokesman said.

The plan is also not popular with some local MPs, including Tory MP Tracy Crouch who said a consultation on a "Boris Airport" would be a "tedious, unnecessary, expensive waste of taxpayer money".

Colin Matthews, chief executive of airport operator BAA, told Today that while he welcomed the consultation "an island airport is very long and very expensive, even if it's agreed it'll be decades away".
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Forget what the government says: if the proposed new airport in the Thames Estuary is going to be a success, the airlines have to embrace the idea, and compete to fly into the new facility - or base themselves there.

At the moment, there is a definite divide - and British Airways isn't keen.

As we reported, there are a number of political, financial and environmental concerns that could scupper plans for a new airport anyway. However, even if it overcomes all of these , it seems it is going to have to work hard to get all the airlines on board.

BA opposition
The chief executive of International Airlines Group - which owns British Airways - says he doesn't think the new airport is feasible. Willie Walsh reckons the government can't finance it, so he doesn't have any plans to move any of his services from Heathrow.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "The only way you are going to get a return on your investment is to know that planes are going to fly in there. If you've got the current users of Heathrow saying, 'we're not going to fly in there' you risk building a huge white elephant."

Of course, he is a bit biased. The building of the new airport would mean the end of Heathrow as the main airport hub for the UK. If the company's purchase of BMI goes ahead, it would own 53% of the slots at Heathrow, so he has a vested interest in the thriving future of Heathrow.

Airlines support
Virgin, meanwhile released a statement, showing it is far more enthusiastic. It said: "It is welcome to see the government finally admit that the current capacity problem in the south east cannot be allowed to continue. The UK is becoming hamstrung by our lack of opportunity for growth and risk losing valuable business and tourism to our European competitors." But it went on to say that other alternative solutions need to be considered.

Flybe, meanwhile, has been much more supportive of the move. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jim French said:"Flybe supports any infrastructure investment that improves connectivity for the British travelling public and will respond to the proposed formal consultation in detail."

French added that the firm was behind the government's desire to rebalance the economy away from the South East, and that "any new airport must be a national resource, guaranteeing access for all UK regions to an international hub, thereby maximising the economic potential of the whole of the UK (currently only 7 of the 26 UK airports have connectivity to Heathrow)."

He said the South East clearly needs more runway capacity in order to have space for flights around the UK. "So, given the scarce land resource combined with the dense populations in the South East, it seems entirely appropriate that we consider extending our land space through developing an airport in the Thames Estuary."

But what do you think? Is there any hope for this new airport? Let us know in the comments
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Nick Clegg says he's "unpersuaded" of the need to build the "Boris Island" airport in the Thames Estuary, confirming that the issue could be a source of tension in the coalition.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on BBC One, Clegg said: "I'm totally un-persuaded by the evidence and think we should take a common-sense, hard-headed look at the facts. I don't think we should as a country decide to concrete over vast swathes of the Thames Estuary on a whim.”

Clegg said he would be happy to look at the results of a wide-ranging consultation on UK aviation, due to begin in March, but sounded highly sceptical about the mooted Thames plan.

"As it happens if you look at the facts, we have four big airports around London, three of which aren't even being used to capacity yet. Call me old-fashioned but it seems like you should first look at things like that."

The DPM was referring to Stansted, Luton and Gatwick airports, which have spare capacity. Heathrow regularly runs at near-capacity and is also subject to fog problems and noise restrictions due to its proximity to central London.

The Liberal Democrats went into the 2010 general election opposing any new airports in the south-east of England, and there is no provision within the coalition agreement to build one.

Earlier this week reports appeared suggesting David Cameron and George Osborne had come round to the idea of building a major airport somewhere east of London, a plan dubbed "Boris Island" because the Mayor of London has been a long-time proponent of constructing one in the middle of the Thames Estuary.

Since then there have been a series of contradictory reports. Some believe the Tories will attempt to re-negotiate the coalition agreement in order to include the new airport. But The Guardian says that Boris Johnson leaked the original story of the PM being supportive of the airport, and that doing this has in effect scuppered the plan.

In addition to Liberal Democrat opposition, the government would also have to deal with gripes from many Tory MPs in the region, who can't see the benefits of a new airport.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Probably more likely than Boris Island!  Rolling Eyes

The Ministry of Defence is planning to sell off all or parts of RAF Northolt in a bid to raise funds.

One of the MoD's oldest airfields could become a satellite for nearby Heathrow Airport, an idea that is being discussed at Whitehall.

Its proximity to Heathrow will be discussed by ministers in a large discussion about the future of UK travel in the spring.

According to the report in the Guardian, one industry source said that the idea had been discussed in government. "It has its advocates because of its location close to the capital and to Heathrow, and there are some people who would welcome it.

"But it shares some of the drawbacks of extending Heathrow, including the increase in noise for communities in west London." Another source said: "In many ways it is less ridiculous than Boris Island."

The idea of a third runway at Heathrow has been ruled out by the Department for Transport but, they say, "the government will consult on an overarching sustainable framework for UK aviation this spring".

RAF Northolt is home to the 32 (Royal) Squadron, and is still used by visiting VIPs, but some say activity could be diverted to Heathrow.

The base is well known as the place where Princess Diana's body was returned to after being repatriated from France in 1997 (pictured).
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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A MAJOR new railway line could be built through Brentwood's green belt as part of an ambitious project to create a new airport in the middle of the Thames Estuary.

The line, capable of transporting hundreds of thousands of passengers and millions of tonnes of freight, could connect a multi-runway airport hub built on the Isle of Grain in the Hoo peninsula, to mainline services north of London.

The vision is part of renowned architect Lord Foster's contribution to the plan, which involves miles of land between Tilbury and Brentwood being developed into a state-of-the-art railway line connecting a £50 billion four-runway airport, operating 24 hours a day and capable of handling 150 million passengers a year – more than double that of Heathrow.

One of the many casualties if the plan ever did happen might be Hole Farm in Warley.

Owner Peter Warley, who has farmed it for 40 years but who lost a large chunk when the M25 was built 26 years ago, said: "It is not good news. It's like anything. The M25 went through the farm and there was nothing we could do about it.

"If they want to build a railway, they will. It's just that a little bit more of the countryside will be ruined.

"The green belt is only the green belt until the Government wants it.

"The green belt is meant to be safe. But if they want it they'll take it."

The Government is increasingly warming to the idea of a Thames Estuary airport as it attempts to maintain the UK's aviation hub status and will carry out a detailed consultation in March to develop the idea further.

The plans, backed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, will concentrate Britain's airport capability to the East and North East of London and seeks to find extra capacity after a third runway at Heathrow was ruled out.

Mr Johnson envisages a similar plan for an island airport off the cost of the Isle of Sheppey, with the site linked by road and railway bridges.

In both cases planes would descend over the North Sea rather than densely populated parts of West London.

Mr Johnson said: "The capital's airports are already full and runway space is at a premium.

"That is why I believe there would be considerable benefit from providing capacity at a new airport which can act as a hub, particularly to the rest of the UK.

"Heathrow is not the answer. Its confined and unsuitable location means it cannot grow to a size comparable to the expanded airports at Frankfurt, Madrid, Amsterdam and Dubai.

"For too long Britain has failed to act, paralysed by the difficulties rather than recognising the opportunities. With jobs prosperity and investment at risk from inertia we must act now."

Lord Foster, founder and chairman of Foster+Partners, said: "These visionary proposals are far from future fantasy.

"They are both essential and down to earth.

"When you look at the eastwards thrust of London's infrastructure, with the Channel Tunnel and the Olympics, you can see how it would be possible to create a 24-hour airport.

"This move would greatly improve the quality of life for Londoners by reducing pollution and improving security.

"It would also allow London to compete with rapidly expanding airports in Europe and the Middle East.

"The arguments are extraordinarily persuasive and the precedents are also compelling.

"More than ten years ago Hong Kong built what was then the world's largest airport at Chek Lap Kok, an island reclaimed from the sea – in just four years."

However, the plans have been dismissed as unrealistic by environmental campaigners.

A spokesman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: "We are very clear that we should be investing in rail not airport expansion.

"Even if you think it is able to be built it would need new dual carriageways road and rail links.

"The mind boggles at the expense, never mind the environmental impact this would have."
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Now that they have once again realised that a new island will be very expensive?

A mystery consortium is drawing up plans for a new, four-runway airport close to Heathrow, it has been reported.

The unnamed group of British businesses has commissioned a "world-leading infrastructure firm" to assess potential sites to the west and north of London which could rival - or even replace - Heathrow, according to The Independent on Sunday (IoS).

Could a consortium build a new airport near Heathrow?

The paper said that the consortium was understood to have opened talks with Chinese sovereign wealth funds over the financing of the project which could cost between £40bn to £60bn.

The report comes as Transport Secretary Justine Greening is preparing to launch a major consultation on future airport expansion amid warnings from business that the country cannot carry on with the present level of provision and remain competitive.

According to the IoS, the feasibility study is being carried out by a firm of specialist engineers "who have worked on major aviation projects in North and Latin America".

They were said to have been tasked to evaluate flat tracts of land which could take such a large development, with sites in Berkshire and Oxfordshire potentially in the frame.

Such a proposal would be highly controversial and would inevitably face fierce opposition from communities and environmental groups.

The IoS said that documents it had seen emphasised the importance of building a political consensus behind any proposal.

"Debate must be refocused to get political and business consensus on the criteria to be met by a future hub," one document stated.

"As evidenced by HS2 (High Speed Rail), Crossrail, and the London 2012 Olympics, the development and delivery of any scheme must have cross-party backing and must be supported by business and the workforce."

The paper said that the group behind the scheme was expected to reveal itself within weeks.

It quoted an industry source as saying: "These are very serious people. They want all their ideas aligned before coming forward publicly - this is going to be pretty impressive stuff."

Foreign Secretary William Hague firmly ruled out a change of Government on policy on a third runway at Heathrow.

Speaking to the Sky News Murnaghan programme, he said: "The circumstances have not changed... it's important to stick to that election promise.

"It's important to make the right decision about this and study all the options.

"We said very specifically we would not be (building a third runway). Because a runway or an airport takes such a long time, this does not have an immediate effect on the economic situation now and our airport capacity now, but there are others things which do have an effect."

  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Futuristic-style plans for what could be London's new airport have been unveiled - and they're certainly out of this world.
A global architecture firm has released it vision for the 'Boris Island' airport in the Thames Estuary.
According to the Daily Mail, the London Britannia Airport, designed by Gensler, would include four floating runways tethered to the sea bed.
New runways could be floated in as required, allowing for future expansion, accommodating up to six landing strips.
Passenger terminals would be located on the land, located to the north and south of the estuary, with a third central London terminal proposed between Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park; all would be connected to London by a high-speed rail link.
London Mayor Boris has been famously in favour of a Thames island airport, now dubbed "Boris Island".
Gensler submitted the plans in a bid to be considered as the designers for any future airport that may be built.
Government ministers have been under pressure to approve a third runway at Heathrow, but have said a decision will not be taken before the next general election.
Ian Mulcahey, Gensler project director, told the Daily Mail: "The idea of floating runways is fairly basic stuff - we're just proposing it on a scale, perhaps, that has never been done before.
"We're locked in a political debate about whether to build a little runway extension [at Heathrow] or whether we build a proper airport.
"This could be an airport for the next 100 years."
The Gensler scheme would see Heathrow Airport close and turned into a new eco-city with housing for around 300,000 people.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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So much for 'Boris Island': London mayor now favours giant four-runway airport in Kent over Thames estuary development
  • Mayor Boris Johnson does a u-turn on his own plan for 'Boris Island' airport
  • The new airport would have been on an artificial island in the Thames
  • Now Mr Johnson favours a giant airport on the Isle of Grain in Kent

Doing an about-turn on his own pet policy London mayor Boris Johnson is now not so keen on the idea of the 'Boris Island' airport.

The new transport hub was going to be built in the Thames estuary on an artificial island.

Now Mr Johnson is more strongly backing a giant airport on the Isle of Grain in Kent, partly built
on reclaimed land.

New favourite idea: The Foster + Partners impression of a four-runway Thames Estuary airport capable of handling 150 million passengers a year on the Isle of Grain in Kent

Elaborate plan: The Isle of Grain's proposed international railway station, which would include a service to Waterloo in 26 minutes

Mr Johnson told The Sunday Times in an interview that it would 'knock the spots off' rival European airports as it would eventually serve 180 million passengers a year.

The entire project would cost about £65 billion, including a new train line taking passengers to Waterloo in 26 minutes.  

The Boris Island plan, designed by Global firm Gensler, will remain one of three options that Mr Johnson will present to a government-backed commission this week.


The proposed location for Boris Island, artificially created from landfill, would be two miles north of the Isle of Sheppey.

Ferries would link the site to Kent and Essex while a railway bridge could connect it to the mainland.

The third possible idea would be expanding Stansted.

Crunch time: Mayor of London Boris Johnson is submitting the Isle of Grain plan to a government-backed commission in the coming week

However, Mr Johnson now says that the Isle of Grain plan has the 'greatest single potential for regeneration'.

The blueprint involves an opening scheduled for 2029, requiring infrastructure improvements such as extending Crossrail and widening the M25 an extra lane in each direction for 36 miles.

Mr Johnson insisted that Prime Minister David Cameron is 'open to the idea' of an estuary airport.

On top of those three suggestions, Heathrow will be revealing its own plans to expand with a thrid and maybe even fourth runway.

Ongoing fight: A longstanding campaign has been fought to prevent a third Heathrow runway, but if airports move to the east of the London, tens of thousands will lose their jobs

The plans to replace Heathrow have angered many west Londoners who fear it would harm the local economy and result in huge job loses as around 76,600 people currently work there.

The committee listening to the various ideas, chaired by former Financial Services Authority chairman Sir Howard Davies, will not publish its final report until the summer of 2015.

In April, Mr Johnson said that he would also like to see any future airport named after the late Baroness Thatcher.

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  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Was this where you got the idea Mr Mayor? 1930s drawings prove architects already believed 'Boris Island' was possible
  • Designs from 80 years ago reveal ideas for revolutionary airports
  • One for London was proposed built on top of housing
  • In New York architects discussed a hub - half airport - half sea port

Boris Johnson's plans for an island airport on the Thames might sound ambitious, but these drawings prove the idea has been at least 80 years in the making.
Vintage architects' designs unearthed today show how floating hubs like 'Boris Island', with at least four runways, were already being planned in the 1930s.
The Mayor of London has been demanding the grand idea of an island airport made out of landfill with superfast links to London.

Brave New York world: This 1931 design for the centre of the Big Apple shows how airport docks should be built for the metropolis

Eye opening: The wonderfully named Charles Clever argued for an airport to be built on London's roofs while in Detroit they argued it should be in top of a City Hall

But it appears pre-Second World War architects had ideas even more dazzling and ahead of their time, which included placing an airport on top of city centre buildings in London.
In Detroit planners suggested a an airport was built in the sky above their City Hall.
This month the Mr Johnson underlined his commitment to a futuristic estuary airport, either on the edge of the Thames or right in its heart.

Revolutionary: This spinning airport conceived by a French designer was planned so it could sit on the top of any major city, this plan said

Very similar: This one from New York even looks like current plans for an estuary airport in London, while North Beach Airport off Long Island would have had four runways too

His first choice is Sir Norman Foster’s plan for an airport on Kent's Isle of Grain.
Mr Johnson says it would be able to support more than 375,000 new jobs by 2050 and add £742billion to the value of goods and services produced in the UK.
Planes would fly in over the sea into the four-runway 'Foster Island', which would be capable of handling up to 180million passengers and include an international railway station, which would include a service to Waterloo in 26 minutes.
The Boris Island plan, designed by Global firm Gensler, would be artificially created from landfill in the heart of the estuary, and would be two miles north of the Isle of Sheppey.
Ferries would link the site to Kent and Essex while a railway bridge could connect it to the mainland.

Vision: Foster Island (pictured) on the Isle of Grain has today been backed by the Mayor of London above his own Boris Island plan because of its proximity to London

New favourite idea: Boris has backed the four-runway 'Foster Island' (pictured) in the Thames Estuary airport, which would be capable of handling up to 180million passengers a year on the Isle of Grain in Kent

Elaborate plan: The Isle of Grain's proposed international railway station, which would include a service to Waterloo in 26 minutes

The final 'compromise' idea is an enlarged Stansted, as the Mayor is desperate to stop a third runway at Heathrow.
He is so bent on preventing it, that he'd like to buy the west London site for £15billion to create a new borough for 250,000 residents.

Read more: [color=#003399][/color]
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Designers in New York also argued for a huge transport terminal in water, with an airstrip on top and a shipping port below.

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  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Heathrow and Gatwick on growth listPoliticians are likely to have to decide between a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick following an interim report today by the Whitehall-commissioned Airports Commission.
Extra runways at Heathrow and Gatwick are among the options put forward by the Government-appointed Airports Commission

Expansion at Stansted airport in Essex has been ruled out until after 2030 by the commission, which is headed by former [size=2][color=#009900][size=2][u]Financial Services[/u][/size][/color][img][/img][/size] Authority chief Sir Howard Davies.
Sir Howard's team have not closed the door on a Thames Estuary scheme, which is favoured by London mayor Boris Johnson.
But although the commission will study estuary schemes further, Sir Howard described it as "imaginative", adding that it could cost as much as £112 billion, would need much more public money than the other options and the construction challenge would be "massive".
The commission concluded that there was "a need for one net additional runway to be in operation in the South East by 2030 and there was " likely to be a demand case for a second additional runway to be operational by 2050".
Sir Howard's team said it would be taking proposals for new runways at two locations forward for further detailed study:
:: GATWICK - This is the plan by the airport's bosses for a new runway to the south of the existing runway;
:: HEATHROW - Here there are two options - The first is Heathrow Airport Ltd's proposal for one new 3,500-metre (11,500ft) runway to the north west to add to the two existing runways. This would be a less-noisy option than the runway proposed in Labour's aviation White Paper and would avoid the loss of Sipson village.
The second Heathrow option is the one put forward by Heathrow Hub, a group of civil engineers which also includes former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe. Theirs is a proposal to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000 metres (20,000ft), enabling the extended runway to operate as two independent runways.
The commission said it had not added the Thames Estuary options to the short list "as there were too many uncertainties and challenges" surrounding them at this stage.
Sir Howard's team will now undertake further study of the Isle of Grain estuary option in the first half of 2014 and "will reach a view later next year on whether that option offers a credible proposal for consideration alongside the other shortlisted options".
The commission also said there was likely to be a case for considering Stansted and Birmingham as potential options for any second new runway by 2050.
There are no firm long-term proposals in the commission's interim report. Those will come when the commission makes its final report in the summer of 2015 - after the next general election.
The last Labour government supported a third runway at Heathrow but expansion at the west London airport was ruled out by the coalition Government when it took power in May 2010.
Last week, Tory MP Zac Goldsmith said any decision by the Prime Minister to back Heathrow expansion would represent an "off-the-scale betrayal" and David Cameron would "never be forgiven in west London" . Today Mr Johnson said a third runway at Heathrow would be "completely crackers".
Transport [size=2][color=#009900][size=2][u]Secretary[/u][/size][/color][img][/img][/size] Patrick McLoughlin has said the coalition's pledge was not to build a third runway "in this parliament" and stressed that any decision would come after summer 2015.
Launching the report in London, Sir Howard said the shortlist had been finalised last week and his team had "gone back and forward" over whether to keep the estuary schemes "in place".
Sir Howard was repeatedly asked whether he had to take on board any views from ministers.
He replied: "The short list has not been influenced by politicians."
Pressed on any discussions he might have had with politicians, Sir Howard replied: "I am not going to tell you what politicians tell me at private meetings."
Although expansion at Heathrow will remain the bookies' favourite, Sir Howard said that deciding that London could best be served by "putting all your eggs in one basket and having one huge hub airport strikes us as quite risky".
He said that one thing that needed to be weighed carefully was the possibility of low-cost airline flights increasing and these budget carriers using long-haul aircraft.
Sir Howard said that Gatwick and Heathrow managements "don't agree on much" but one thing they were agreed on was that it would not be possible to build extra runways at the two airports at the same time.
He went on: "It's pretty clear to us that you need to make a choice of which of them goes first."
Sir Howard admitted that for residents at Gatwick and Heathrow there could well be "issues of blight" and that it was up to the Government and airport managements to consider this.
He said that of the two Heathrow options, the full-length new runway to the north-west was the "most attractive" while the Heathrow Hub scheme was "worthy of serious consideration".
Local groups say the north-west plan will require significant demolition in the villages of Longford and Harmondsworth.
Anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan vowed today to fight the Heathrow plans. "We understand the strength of feeling of those living near Heathrow," Sir Howard said.
Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said Labour would now study Sir Howard's recommendations.
She went on: "It is vital that we take decisions about our airport capacity, including in the South East, which are important for Britain's competitiveness.
"As the commission now looks in greater detail at specific proposals, it remains crucial that they take into account the need to minimise local and environmental impacts of increased capacity."
Mr Johnson said expanding Heathrow would be "completely crackers" and create an "insatiable" demand for a fourth runway
He went on: "Why on earth entrench a huge planning error and expand Heathrow and consign future generations to misery when we could go for the right option?"
While the Stop Stansted Expansion group was thrilled the Essex airport was left off the immediate short list, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign greeted news of Gatwick's appearance on the short list with dismay.
Medway Council in Kent was also unhappy that the Thames Estuary plan had not been ruled out.
West Sussex County Council said it was pleased that Gatwick was on the short list but the Green Party and environmental groups all expressed alarm at the commission's findings.
Sir Howard's team's conclusions were welcomed by airlines and big [size=2][color=#009900][size=2][u]business[/u][/size][/color][img][/img][/size].
Mr Johnson insisted that Heathrow would be "the wrong way forward for the country" and pledged to fight on to win support for his Thames estuary airport scheme.
The London Mayor called for "clarity" from the Government about whether it backs a third runway at Heathrow, which he said would not be politically "deliverable". And he insisted that, far from being holed beneath the water by the Davies report, the case for Boris Island was still "winnable".
He challenged Sir Howard's costings for the estuary airport, which the mayor said would total around £50 billion - £20 billion for transport links and £30 billion for the facility itself, which he predicted could be funded from private investment.
Mr Johnson told a Westminster lunch: "It's pretty obvious to me what is going on. I think the reality is that Sir Howard probably began with a short list that didn't really include much except Heathrow, and I think he has been told to have another think and that's good.
"I will work with that. I will seize what lifeline I can. I will keep the estuary option going. I will try to win this argument. I think it is winnable. It is vital that we do it.
"But we need to get on with it. If the Government, if the great mass of the British establishment is basically still addicted to the idea of a third runway at Heathrow, let's be clear about that, let's have it out there, let's have a proper debate about it.
"I think it would be an environmental catastrophe. I don't think it's deliverable. I think it's the wrong way forward for the country.
"But the sooner we have clarity the better and at the moment, I think we are being deprived of that essential clarity. No one can really discuss this in a very productive way because we don't really where the Government is."
Asked who he believed had spoken to Sir Howard to influence him to keep the estuary airport on the table, Mr Johnson replied: "Me. I told him.
"I don't think that he has been nobbled, because he has come up with a better idea, and there is much to be applauded in that.
"We need to develop that idea and we have six months now to make the case for the estuary and we are going to do it.
"The sooner we get a clear answer from the Government, in my view, the better. We can't keep pussyfooting and fannying around forever."
He added: "Everybody in my party and indeed in several other parties, so far as I can remember, were elected on a manifesto to oppose a third runway at Heathrow. That happens to be the correct policy. Why change it? Why dump it? The sooner we get back to that, the better."
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
A Thames Estuary airport remains on the cards despite having many of the same problems as other proposals that have already been dismissed.

Almost all the options for increasing UK airport capacity with the exception of expanding Heathrow and Gatwick have now been ruled out.
Proposals to expand Luton, Stansted or Birmingham, build new airports at various locations around London, or create an orbital railway or maglev to turn the existing airports into a cross-city hub have all been deemed non-starters by the government’s Airports Commission, which released its interim report yesterday.

Sadly, but probably with good reason, so has the somewhat outlandish idea of creating an electromagnetic catapult system to speed up takeoff.
The only other option still under consideration – although not shortlisted along with new or extended runways at Heathrow or Gatwick – is for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary, specifically on the Isle of Grain, which has been deemed the only suitable site for such a project.
There’s already been much speculation over the politics surrounding the report, with some suggesting the Estuary option has only been left open at the insistence of David Cameron and Boris Johnson – a major proponent of the scheme – in order to keep it on the table until after the election when the final recommendation will be made.
However, an Estuary Airport could still be ruled out as early as next year once the Commission has undertaken a more detailed analysis of one of the Isle of Grain option.
The Commission performed a ‘sifting’ operation on the 52 ideas it received, ruling out the most obviously flawed ones first before gradually narrowing the options down to a final four. The report provides short summaries of each of the rejection reasons.
Dispersed hub option
The idea to use Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted together as a London hub spread over three locations was quickly dismissed as creating market distortions and operational inefficiencies.
Improve ground transport
The possibility of creating a London hub-and-spoke or orbital railway or maglev system to link all the capital’s five airports was also ruled out due to the difficulty of achieving acceptable transfer times and the plan’s inability to create the capacity needed ­­– and at high cost.
A national high-speed rail network to replace the need for domestic flights into London was also seen as costly and would only increase capacity by an equivalent of seven per cent of Heathrow’s current traffic.
London airports
Proposals to expand Luton or Stansted to multi-runway hubs were seen as flawed because expanding one would lead to the closure of the other and of Heathrow, which would either not increase capacity by sufficient amounts or be hugely costly and have a major impact on West London. Expanding Stansted would also have high costs in itself and require improved surface transport.
Regional airports
Several proposals were put forward for expanding other airports and all of them were ruled out. Birmingham was seen as too far away and expansion would rely on short journey times from London using HS2, which would actually make London airports more attractive to Birmingham’s current customers. Similarly, expanding Cardiff would need an extra HS2 link (costly) and wouldn’t deliver significant extra capacity.
New airports
Almost all proposals for new airports were ruled out for a handful of reasons: Maidenhead – too many houses to demolish and flood plain risk; Oxford – less noise disturbance and demolition but increased flood plain risk, too far from London and agricultural land too valuble; Milton Keynes – cheap and with good transport links but would shut Heathrow and Luton and so wouldn’t increase capacity; Foulness (Essex) – ongoing defence requirements; Twyford (Oxfordshire) –too far away without an extra HS2 station.
Severn Estuary
Bold proposals for an artificial island airport in the Severn wouldn’t add capacity where it was needed and wouldn’t add to national capacity as Cardiff and Bristol airports would need to close.
Thames Estuary
Numerous plans for an airport along or in the Thames Estuary were examined and almost all were rejected. Firstly, any locations in the outer estuary were seen as too far away.
A revival of 1970s plans to create an artificial island on Maplin Sands was not possible under current regulations and the site was seen as too close to a current munitions testing area.
Several ideas for an airport on the Isle of Grain were merged into a general proposal and assessed to have many of the negative points of other schemes: high cost, requiring extra surface transport, the necessary closure of Heathrow and environmental concerns.
But the Isle of Grain was seen as potentially having more benefit than any of the other ideas, and so the Commission has decided to take more time to weigh up whether this benefit outweighs the costs and risk.
Electromagnetic catapult
Finally, it was always going to be a long shot and the Commission found the idea of assisted takeoff too risky, slow and costly.

Read more: [color=#003399][/color]
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Boris Johnson has backed down over his proposal to close Heathrow Airport, suggesting that it could continue to exist as a secondary airport alongside his beloved four-runway "Boris Island" hub on the Thames Estuary.
His change of tack in the airport debate is conveniently timed, as he is vying to be MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, an area of London that would be affected by the job closures resulting from Heathrow's closure.
"As for the existing hub at Heathrow, you could keep an Orly-style airport," he wrote in his Telegraph column today. "But you could also release huge quantities of prime land as a wonderful new district for London."
Johnson was swiftly mocked today for being "all over the place" by Tory home affairs committee member Mark Reckless, who warned that Heathrow "must close" to make his "pie in sky" Thames Estuary airport work.
The London Mayor was adamant last year that the best way forward for increasing Britain's aviation capacity was to build his "Boris Island" and demolish Heathrow, replacing it with a village that could house 250,000 people. Heathrow Airport warned in response that Johnson's "extraordinary" ideas could put as many as 114,000 people's jobs at risk.
He has continued to back the demolition of Heathrow, appointing architects in May to help bring his "Heathrow City" vision to life.
The London Mayor's decision to back down over demolishing Heathrow comes after critics pointed out the impact it would cause for the Uxbridge locals that he aspires to represent in Parliament.
"Bold, Boris still wants to axe jobs at Heathrow - presumably including those who live in Uxbridge," Labour frontbencher John Spellar observed.
In his Telegraph column, Johnson made a bigger fuss of how "barbarically contemptuous" it would be to built a third runway at Heathrow, as he has consistently argued.
He argued the UK stood to lose its position as a "great trading nation" without further airport capacity, adding: "What frustrates me is that third runway (at Heathrow) is so desperately short-sighted."
"You could not conceivably get it built before 2029, by the airport's own admission - and as soon as it opened it would be full".
Johnson's comments coming as the business lobby group the CBI demanded "spades in the ground by 2020".
CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall said: "UK business wants action. There can be no more excuses - we need to see the Airports Commission deliver a strong case for new capacity and a clear schedule for delivery, and politicians to commit to spades in the ground by the end of the next Parliament.
"With Heathrow full and the UK slipping behind in the race for new connectivity, it is essential that the Airports Commission delivers a solution that addresses the ticking time bomb of our lack of spare hub capacity."
The Airports Commission is preparing to give its verdict on how best to increase Britain's airport capacity. Chairman Sir Howard Davies bowed to pressure to look at Johnson's "Boris Island" after it was left out of the initial shortlist, which only included the options of expanding Heathrow and Gatwick.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Boris Johnson has accused the Airports Commission of setting the debate on aviation expansion back by half a century, after it announced this morning that it rejected his plan for a new airport in east London.
The thumbs down for the plan, which could have seen a four-runway brand new airport dubbed Boris Island Thames Estuary built to the east of London, is due to come from the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission.
Mr Johnson told of his disappointment ahead of the news being made official, but said he will press ahead with his plans and added that he remains confident his scheme will eventually come to fruition.

Boris Johnson said the Airports Commission rejected his idea 'in one myopic stroke'

"In one myopic stroke the Airports Commission has set the debate back by half a century and consigned their work to the long list of vertically filed reports on aviation expansion that are gathering dust on a shelf in Whitehall," he said.
"Gatwick is not a long term solution and (commission head) Howard Davies must explain to the people of London how he can possibly envisage that an expansion of Heathrow, which would create unbelievable levels of noise, blight and pollution, is a better idea than a new airport to the east of London that he himself admits is visionary, and which would create the jobs and growth this country needs to remain competitive.
"It remains the only credible solution, any process that fails to include it renders itself pretty much irrelevant, and I'm absolutely certain that it is the option that will eventually be chosen."
The rejection of the estuary scheme will leave three options - two additional runway plans at Heathrow and one at Gatwick - still on the table for consideration by the commission, which is charged with recommending where airport expansion should come.

Headed by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, the commission is due to make its final report to ministers in summer 2015 - after the general election.

For many, the favourite option is expansion at Heathrow - an idea that has been totally rejected by Mr Johnson.
The added complication for Mr Johnson is that he is now seeking the Tory 2015 general election candidacy at Uxbridge and South Ruislip - a constituency that borders on Heathrow and which contains many people who depend on the west London airport for their livelihood.
Last December the commission shortlisted the Heathrow and Gatwick options and said it would look further at the estuary option while admitting that it was extremely expensive.
Since then the commission has published reports showing the possible environment cost of the estuary plan.
The shortlisted options:

  • Gatwick Airport: At this site the commission's analysis will be based on a new runway over 3,000 metres in length spaced sufficiently south of the existing runway to permit fully independent operation.

  • A new 3,500-metre runway constructed to the north west of the existing airport proposed by Heathrow Airport Ltd.

  • An extension of the existing northern runway to the west of Heathrow proposed by Heathrow Hub Ltd, consortium including former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe. This scheme would see the runway lengthened to at least 6,000 metres, enabling it to be operated as two separate runways: one for departures and one for arrivals.

Mr Johnson's chief aviation adviser Daniel Moylan said yesterday that not short-listing the estuary option would be "a sadly short-sighted decision but far from the end of the process".
He went on: "Airports policy has been stalled for nearly five decades, ricocheting like a billiard ball between Heathrow and Gatwick.
"We have one opportunity to break out of that but it seems the commission has taken us back to the same old, failed choice. But the final decision will lie with the Government and a key question now is whether the commission will play much of a role in that."
Responding to the Airport Commission's decision to rule out the inner Thames estuary option, Nathan Stower, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association (Bata), said: "Britain needs additional runway capacity in the South East of England, but not at any price.
"With the Thames estuary option sensibly ruled out for good, the Airports Commission is free now to concentrate on scrutinising the business cases of the three shortlisted options.
"The proposals must be cost-effective and offer value for money. There needs to be a credible funding mechanism based on realistic forecasts and today's passengers must not be expected to pay for tomorrow's infrastructure."
Mr Davies said the risks and costs of the project were too high.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We think it's too risky. The logistical challenges of shifting an airport 17 miles across London are immense. The surface access requirements to it are very complicated and we simply think that there's a strong chance that you would never actually get it built."

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