Thames Estuary Airport: Wrong For Kent, Wrong For Britain

Mark Reckless with members of the RPSB and Friends of the North Kent Marshes

Mark Reckless with members of the RPSB and Friends of the North Kent Marshes

The launch of the planned Thames Estuary Hub report has not answered the many serious questions marks dogging this scheme. The planned costs for the proposed hub are over £70 billion, made up of a £20 billion airport with a further £50 billion for the accompanying infrastructure and connections to London and the rest of the UK. As with many large extravagant infrastructure plans this proposal claims that there will be little cost to the taxpayer and will quickly raise revenue for the exchequer. Predictably, as with many similar schemes, as the project develops costs will inevitably balloon leading to private investors becoming increasingly risk averse requiring the state to take greater and greater responsibility for costs. The viability of this scheme has not been shown and this latest report launch fails to adequately address this vital question.

There are many London airports which, with minimal investment, could reap major benefits for customers, airlines and the tax payer. By developing better connections between existing airports we can boost capacity and cut waste. Why, when there are more cost effective ways to boost capacity for London airports, does this report propose wasting more money on a massive white elephant?

The report states that the area for development is sparsely populated, empty and therefore ripe for the construction of a massive concrete slab over the Isle of Grain. This ignores the major environmental difficulty with this scheme. That the proposed airport sits in the middle of a series of important natural and historical zones; a large Special Protection Area (SPA) protected under an EU Directive, a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a popular public amenity namely the RSPB Reserve of Northward Hill. There is also the very high risk of a dangerous bird strike on an airplane leading to a potentially serious loss of life. Building an airport in the middle of a historic bird sanctuary is monumentally ill advised. As the danger of more extreme climate events increase for Britain, the marshes offer invaluable natural flood protection for London. The loss of this flood bank would lead to a greater need for expensive man made flood defences for London, pushing up the proposed costs for this hub.

Now is not the time to borrow money for vanity projects. Many London airports could benefit from cheaper, more cost effective methods to boost capacity and effectiveness. In a time of austerity it is wiser to use existing infrastructure more prudently than spend money we do not have on luxury developments we do not need.



Filed under boris johnson, estuary airport, hoo peninsula, isle of grain, Lord Foster, mark reckless, rspb, Thames Hub

10 responses to “Thames Estuary Airport: Wrong For Kent, Wrong For Britain

  1. You have not mentioned the apparently insoluble problem of the SS Richard Montgomery.

  2. Richard Lane

    I wish people would shut up about that ship,if they wanted to build that airport they would move it.And when was the last time a plane missed the runway by miles in this coumtry I think the answer is never

  3. barry luxton

    London is full, i don’t want to continue in the future fighting my way up to london to catch a plane. It’s had it’s day, new airport new location, four runways, with NEW links to the rest of the uk, that will include a new link across the thames, avoiding the dartford crossing, blackwall tunnel and avoiding london traffic jams like the M25 carpark, bring it on.

  4. The Conservative cupboard is bare as far as airport policy is concerned. Too many London MPs shouting not in my backyard, so the UK will lose business and industry to Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. But I suppose it will be a step forward to Little England, possibly where we should be.

  5. michael ellison

    I cannot believe that these awful proposals have been resurrected. A reminder for those keen to push this idea some of the reasons as to why it was thrown out previously.
    1- The greater Thames estuary (inc Medway & Swale estuaries) is a year round home for internationally important numbers of waterbirds including over 250,000 wintering waterfowl (figs from British Trust for Ornithology). Hence it is internationally recognised as being important for wildlife via its IBA (Important Bird Area) & RAMSAR (listing wetlands of international importance) citings. This area has both UK & EU laws that are supposed to offer the highest levels of protection available.
    2- Airstrike – Birds & planes don’t mix-
    3- Cost- the estimated costs of the last option doubled within a year & no-one was prepared to come up with the money. And this didn’t take account of the additional local infrastructure costs required
    4- The destruction of the one remaining truly rural part of Medway, which is a valuable haven for the people of Medway from the pressures of urban living
    5- The location of the airport -stuck down in the SE of the country on the wrong side of London from the bulk of the UK population.
    Do Boris Johnson, Norman Foster et al not know the above? Forgotten the above? Or for reasons best known to themselves decided to abandon logic altogether?

  6. jeff barker

    Dear Mark…..

    Is that ” KENT SUSTAINABLE AQUACULTURE PROJECT” in the foreground ????????????????……..
    or Lord Fosters THAMES HUB AIRPORT ??????????

    Jeff Barker

  7. Mark Gilbert

    Thank You Mark for posting this article. This is where we have to make a stand and say NO to the metropolitanization of the British Isles. Our islands are beautiful and should be enjoyed as much as possible in their natural state. I don’t care if someone takes too long to get around London, it is a small price to pay for the conservation of our beautiful diversity.
    And to the point you made of the marshes being a flood plain for London: If this awful project is built and London floods, well, you reap what you sow!

  8. Jim Jim

    I think it’s a great idea. As you point out building on marsh land will cause an issue with flooding for London, luckily enough the Thames Hub plan includes a barrier which is proposed to preven the Thames from flooding and generate electricity from the tidal currents. The 50 billion you write of as “accompanying infrastructure” is for me the main point of the whole project, another Thames crossing is needed to ease conjection on the other available crossings and High Speed rail connection needs to be rolled out across the country to provide a reasonably fast and efficient public transport to act as an alternative to motor transport. This will further ease conjestion and hopefully reduce pollution.

    Finally the birds are migratory therefore you’d only be making them homeless for half a year, so don’t worry about it. Joking aside the birds are unlikely to be bothered by an alternative location and there should be little concern about birdstrike either. Your article leaves me less than reasured that you are giving this adequate consideration.

  9. Do the campaigner have any good news or ideas? I have driven to Grain and all that I found there was a huge industrial plant? Not really an Island area? The area has been developed by private companies so, we redevelop the land and roads makes sense, saves money and will be a long term solution. Heathrow and Gatwick are overcrowded, poorly connected by three lane 40 year old motorway system that slows everything down until you miss your flight on check-in time, even though the flight was delayed because of runway overcrowding. I guess the reasonable thing is to stay in an expensive airport hotel for the night and buy premium ticket on the day ridiculous. Funny you should use the word dogging as that seems the only thing it will save in Kent, where will they all go now? LOL

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