Category Archives: Lord Foster

VIDEO: Mark Reckless speaks up for Hoo Peninsula during aviation debate

I was determined to rise to the challenge when the speaking time limit was cut from 7 minutes to 4 minutes in today’s Aviation Strategy Debate. It was almost as if repeated interventions from Bernard Jenkin, described as the only other person mad enough to support Boris’ scheme, were designed to time me out!

Thankfully our excellent Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle managed to get me in to speak (not sure if this meant cutting short Adam Afriye instead).

I was short of breath by the end. However, I hope that years spent living and breathing opposition to an Estuary Airport meant I was able to get in most of the key points.

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Mark Reckless highlights lack of support for Boris Island during PMQs

Mark Reckless took the opportunity during today’s Prime Ministers Questions to highlight Boris Johnson’s own admission that his pie in the sky Boris Island scheme lacked any credible support further to Sir Howard Davies’s indication that some plans will not pass first base environmentally.

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Rochester and Strood says No Estuary Airport!

Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, today joined local residents and campaigners at St James’ Church in Cooling to reveal the results of his No Estuary Airport ballot prior to making his submission to the Davies Aviation Commission. Over the past seven months, residents across the Rochester and Strood constituency have been asked for their opinion on whether or not they support the proposals to build a new hub airport in or around the Thames Estuary.

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The results are (wheeled) in… Rochester and Strood says No Estuary Airport!

The response has been extraordinarily good. Just under 8,000 residents took the time to have their say on the plans, and the answer has been a resounding ‘NO’ to proposals put forward for a Thames Estuary airport including by Boris Johnson and Foster+Partners. 92.6% of residents across the constituency do not support the proposals, with just 7.3% in favour. In Strood Rural and Peninsula wards, which would be most impacted by a new airport, the figure was even higher with 94.4% of all respondents saying ‘NO’, with just 5.5% supporting the plans.

Across the rest of the constituency, excluding Peninsula and Strood Rural wards, 87.8% of local residents oppose the plans, with 12.1% in favour.

Download full breakdown of results by ward – Click Here

WP_20130930_003Speaking prior to making his submission to the Davies Commission, Mark Reckless said:

“These proposals are, economically, completely unjustified. It is going to cost, perhaps, up to £100bn, and much of that will be government-guaranteed money, while all of the other proposals will be, in the main, privately funded. I just don’t believe it’s a credible proposal which merits further investigation. That’s what I said to Sir Howard Davies when I met him a week or so ago, and this ballot shows the strength of feeling against the proposals here in Rochester and Strood.

The jobs argument has completely failed. It would devastate West London to close Heathrow which would be necessary. Even Boris himself has now been pushing Stansted because he realises he hasn’t been able to gather enough support for this flight of fancy, pie in the sky proposal. I hope now we can rule this out once and for all. I would like to thank everyone who has been helping me with my campaign to do just that. Thank you all very much.”

View Mark’s submission to the Davies Aviation Commission – Click Here

Mark Reckless also accepted for submission to the Davies Commission a 1,800+ strong petition against the Thames Estuary Airport on behalf of the Friends of North Kent Marshes (FoNKM).

WP_20130930_035Speaking at the event, Gill Moore of FoNKM, said:

“We’re asking the Davies Commission to rule out all thoughts of a Thames Estuary Airport at the earliest opportunity and we hope he will be doing that in December. We’ve collected loads and loads of signatures alongside our MP, Mark Reckless, and we’re hoping against hope that the Davies Commission will take notice of it.”

V__AC86Mark was delighted to hand in the petition along with his own submission and the result of the constituency-wide ballot directly to Jillian Spindura at the office of the Davies Airport Commission who stated:

“Yours are the biggest and most comprehensive set of responses we have had opposing any airport proposal.”

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VIDEO: Boris gives up on Boris Island

Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, questions the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, over his pie in the sky Boris Island proposal and receives a surprising response.

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VIDEO: No Estuary Airport campaign update 18th May 2013

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Thames Estuary Airport: The Fight Continues…

020320134118Article originally featured in Kent on Sunday – Click Here To Download

The Mayor of London and Foster & Partners are not the first to suggest building an airport in the Thames Estuary. The last government did that with Cliffe airport. That was ruled out, not least on grounds of cost, and these latest reheated proposals lack feasibility just as their predecessors did.

Despite Boris’ gung-ho attitude, support for a Thames Estuary airport remains extremely limited. The substantive report by the Transport Select Committee, published on Friday, which drives a coach and horses through the proposals, follows hot on the heels of the London Assembly’s findings that a Thames Estuary airport is not a viable option.

By advocating the Thames Estuary airport, Boris wanted to take the focus off Heathrow expansion, but by backing such an ill-advised, economically and environmentally unfeasible scheme he only succeeded in putting the focus back on Heathrow, although other options may make more sense.

I welcome the decision by the Transport Select Committee to reject a new hub airport in or around the Thames Estuary. It is a huge boost for the thousands of residents across Medway, particularly those living on the Hoo Peninsula, who are opposed to such proposals. However, it is important that we stay focused on our ultimate goal of seeing off these pie in the sky plans once and for all.

With cost estimates ranging widely from £70-100 billion, this scheme would not only have added at least £50 to each plane ticket but would also require huge swathes of public subsidy, money which we simply do not have. Not only would the estuary airport impose a massive financial cost to the nation as a whole, it would devastate Medway and subject many across Kent to constant aircraft noise.

Moreover, Heathrow could not continue to operate alongside a Thames Estuary airport, or airlines would not relocate from Heathrow to a much more expensive and less commercially attractive new airport. Airlines themselves have indicated that they are not prepared to move to an estuary airport from Heathrow – and are even less willing to pay for such a scheme.

Therefore, for an estuary hub to work, Heathrow would have to be forcibly closed. How this would happen in practice is a question which remains unanswered and it has been suggested taxpayers would have to pay £20bn to compensate Heathrow and associated businesses. The closure of Heathrow would necessitate a shift of at least 75,000 directly employed staff to a Thames Estuary airport. No council in peacetime has ever been asked to re-home so many people and the implications of such a task would be almost unimaginable for our area.

RSPB map showing extent of Foster proposal

RSPB map showing full extent of Foster+Partners’ proposal

The site of the proposed airport is home to many internationally protected wildlife and environmental sites as well RSPB bird and nature sanctuaries. The likelihood of bird strikes on planes would be far higher than at other airports. The location chosen for the estuary airport would not only be environmentally devastating, but on the wrong side of London for access from most of the UK, as well as being technically unfeasible in key respects.

Richard Deakin, chief executive of air traffic management association, NATS, pointed out that four runways in the estuary would mean some approaches and departures being over London, compounding noise problems and conflicting with the flight paths of other airports, including Schipol.

There are other far more realistic solutions for increasing airport capacity. If £5 billion were spent on a Crossrail spur from Stansted to Stratford this would link Stansted to the City in 25 minutes and to the West End or Ebbsfleet in 35 minutes, with Heathrow less than an hour away. Stansted is currently operating at only half its potential capacity and therefore could greatly increase its number of flights without even needing a new runway in the short-term. Gatwick is now pushing for a second runway once its planning agreement which prevents this expires in 2019. Expansion at Gatwick and/or Stansted with one becoming a hub which competes with Heathrow would benefit Kent with better connections.

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MP welcomes Transport Select Committee report rejecting Thames Estuary airport

010220133960Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, has welcomed the decision by the Transport Select Committee to reject proposals to build a new hub airport in or around the Thames Estuary.

Responding to the news, Mark Reckless said:

“The Mayor of London and Foster & Partners are not the first the first to suggest building an airport in the Thames Estuary. The last Government did that with Cliffe airport. That was ruled out, not least on grounds of cost, and these latest reheated proposals lack feasibility just as their predecessors did.

Despite Boris’s gung-ho attitude, support for a Thames Estuary airport remains extremely limited. This substantive report by the Transport Select Committee, which drives a coach and horses through the proposals, follows hot on the heels of the London Assembly’s findings that a Thames Estuary airport is not a viable option.

By advocating the Thames Estuary airport Boris wanted to take the focus off Heathrow expansion, but by backing such an ill-advised, economically and environmentally unfeasible scheme he only succeeded in putting the focus back on Heathrow, although other options may make more sense.

I welcome the decision by the Transport Select Committee to reject a new hub airport in or around the Thames Estuary. It is a huge boost for the thousands of residents across Medway, particularly those living on the Hoo Peninsula, who are opposed to such proposals. However, it is important that we stay focused on our ultimate goal of seeing off these pie in the sky plans once and for all.”

Cllr Rodney Chambers, Leader of Medway Council, added:

“We welcome the news that, after months of detailed and rigorous study – which included commissioning research from independent aviation experts – the House of Commons Transport Select Committee has firmly rejected plans for a Thames Estuary airport.

This confirms what we’ve always known, and have campaigned loudly about – that the Thames Estuary airport is a non-starter.

The committee’s report says a Thames Estuary airport wouldn’t work because of the phenomenal cost to the public purse of building the transport infrastructure needed to get to it, as well as the devastating effect it would have on wildlife in the estuary – an area of international importance used by more than 300,000 migrating birds annually.

Medway Council, and its campaign partners have been saying exactly this as well as a number of other reasons why there should not be a Thames Estuary airport since the pie in the sky scheme was first put forward by the Mayor of London in 2008.”

Launching the report of an inquiry which examined the UK Government’s Aviation Strategy, Louise Ellman, Chair of the House of Commons’ Transport Committee said:

“We looked closely at the three main options by which the UK could increase its hub airport capacity. Research we commissioned made plain that building an entirely new hub airport east of London could not be done without huge public investment in new ground transport infrastructure. Evidence to our inquiry also showed a substantial potential impact on wildlife habitat in the Thames estuary.

The viability of an estuary hub airport would also require the closure of Heathrow – a course of action that would have unacceptable consequences for individuals, businesses in the vicinity of the existing airport and the local economy.”

Download the full report – Click Here

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MP hails overwhelming response to No Estuary Airport campaign

250320134205Mark Reckless MP is considering extending his ‘No Estuary Airport’ campaign to the whole of the Rochester and Strood constituency following an overwhelming response from residents on the Hoo Peninsula.

Over 3,700 residents have so far returned their ballot out of around 10,000 that were initially sent out. The online petition on Mark’s website has also garnered significant outside support, ranging geographically from Rainham to Twickenham to Surrey.

Over 95% of those who have responded so far oppose the proposals for an airport in or around the Thames Estuary.

Mark will now be leading teams of volunteers going door to door with a petition across much of the Hoo Peninsula calling on households who have yet to return their ballot.

Speaking of the campaign success, Mark Reckless MP said:

“I have been overwhelmed by the response to my ‘No Estuary Airport’ ballot. Local councillors, activists and residents have been working their socks off to get the ballot paper to every household on the Hoo Peninsula and the interim result speaks for itself – with over 95% of Hoo Peninsula residents clearly saying that they oppose these pie in the sky proposals.

Estimates of the cost of building a new airport in the Thames Estuary range from £70-100 billion, which could add £50 to the cost of every plane ticket sold. The airlines don’t want it, residents in West London who would lose their jobs don’t want it, and now we can conclusively say that residents on the Hoo Peninsula, those who would be most impacted, don’t want it.

I am grateful to everyone who has given their time to deliver the ballots, and I would like to thank all of the residents who have responded to date. I am hopeful that we can now expand my No Estuary Airport campaign to the rest of the Rochester and Strood constituency. If anyone would like to make a donation to help me do so, please get in touch.”

Cllr Chris Buckwell, Chairman of St James Isle of Grain Parish Council, added:

‘The number of people who have completed and returned the voting forms about the airport consultation exceeds the number of people who went in person to vote in the Police & Crime Commissioner elections last November.

I think that’s a very significant achievement and all credit to Mark Reckless and all in the team who have helped. It has been a great exercise and the most responsive that I think has been had across the Medway towns, other than an ordinary election, for many, many years’

Cllr Chris Irvine, Medway Councillor for Peninsula Ward, said:

‘The response which we’ve received to Mark’s ‘No Estuary Airport’ campaign has been quite staggering, far exceeding the turnout in last Novembers PCC elections. I’d like to thank everybody who has helped with the campaign to date. It is vital that we keep saying it loud and clear – No Estuary Airport!’

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Interview with DeHavilland

25062011476Conservative MP Mark Reckless speaks to DeHavilland about Parliament, politics, the Coalition, immigration and Europe.

Speaking in Portcullis House, Mr Reckless outlined what his achievements had been over the course of this Parliament.

Eurosceptic, and widely perceived to be on the right of his party, Mr Reckless singled out  Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment to an in-out referendum on EU membership.

He also highlighted the recently negotiated reduction in the EU Budget as another success, recalling his role in marshalling a major rebellion of Conservative MPs in October 2012 which inflicted the first serious Parliamentary defeat on the Coalition.

Closer to home, the election of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) was a source of immense pride for the Rochester and Strood MP, who oversaw the development of the policy during tenure as a member of the Policy Unit at Conservative Central Office.

However, Mr Reckless’ involvement with PCCs did not end there; he was a powerful advocate for the Policing Protocol Order during its passage through Parliament.

Reflecting on the impact of the Coalition Government, Mr Reckless felt that politics as a whole had “opened up” since the 2010 general election.

Mark RecklessElaborating, he said the introduction of elections to Select Committees and the Backbench Business Committee, as well as measures to strengthen the power of backbench MPs to hold the executive to account had been integral to improving Parliamentary scrutiny.

An avid blogger, Mr Reckless also extolled the virtues of the internet and social media in providing Members with a new forum for their views.

However, he was highly critical of power being focused within Whitehall, blaming the influence of “Sir Humphrey” and the Quad of senior Coalition Ministers.

Pressed on a Parliamentary reform he would most like to see, Mr Reckless said he would prefer to see the membership of the Committee of Selection elected from among all backbenchers, as opposed to just Whips.

The Committee makes appointments to general committees, including public bill committees, and is therefore highly influential at this stage of legislative scrutiny.

Turning to his work as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, DeHavilland inquired about the MP’s recent visit to Qatar, where he had praised the work of UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff in the Abu Dhabi operation.

However, Mr Reckless was unwilling to extend such praise to the UKBA back home, in light of the organisation’s recent failings.

Despite being complimentary of Committee Chair and Labour MP Keith Vaz, Mr Reckless did not hesitate to distinguish himself from Mr Vaz on the key issue of immigration.

Asked if he agreed with Mr Vaz and the Chairs of four other Select Committees that overseas students should be excluded from the target for the Government’s migration target, the Conservative MP said no.

Indeed, he held up the fall in net migration revealed in recent figures as a success, and dismissed a recent speech by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper on the grounds that Labour had “no clear policy” on immigration.

A former City Economist, Mr Reckless has firm views on the financial services reform and Parliament’s role in delivering it.

In particular, he didn’t feel the work of Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards had enjoyed as high a profile as it should have done.

Moreover, he believes that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HBOS should have been allowed to fail in 2008.

010220133960Mr Reckless has been particularly vocal in his opposition to a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary, an opposition he described as being based on “economic” reasons.

Whilst insisting that he retained an “open mind” on the future of the UK’s aviation needs and Heathrow, the Conservative MP emphasised his pleasure that Gatwick Airport had begun to campaign for expansion.

He hinted towards a preference for the development of multiple hubs in the South East, and in particular of Gatwick and Stansted.

In particular, Mr Reckless championed the case for a Crossrail spur to Stansted Airport, pointing to his work on this issue with fellow Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith.

On the issue of energy, he confirmed that he would not be supporting the decarbonisation amendment to the Energy Bill brought forward by Conservative Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee Tim Yeo.

Asked to single out a single measure for the forthcoming Budget statement, Mr Reckless called for Whitehall department budgets to be subject to approval by the relevant departmental Select Committee.

Finally, questioned on the rhetoric of Home Secretary Theresa May, Mr Reckless pointed to a blog he had written in response to her recent ConservativeHome conference speech.

In the piece, he argues: “All we need do to rein in our domestic courts’ exorbitant rulings in this area is pass primary legislation to remove Article 8 as a grounds on which courts can prevent deportation of foreign prisoners sentenced to a year or more in prison.”

Mike Indian, Parliamentary Analyst

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Why we should oppose a Thames Estuary Airport

010220133948

Sign The Online Petition – Click Here

Many of us remember the No Airport at Cliffe campaign and how the Hoo Peninsula came together ten years ago to defeat the then government’s ‘Cliffe’ airport plan. There is no similar proposal from the government this time. However, an independent commission has been set up, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, to look at aviation capacity in the South-East.

Various people have suggested building an airport in the Thames Estuary area. The Mayor of London initially proposed an artificial ‘Boris’ Island north of the Isle of Sheppey, while architects Foster + Partners have proposed building over the north-east of the Hoo Peninsula and reclaimed land beyond.

010220133960None of these proposals appear credible to me. Cost estimates range from £70 billion to over £100 billion, around £50 per plane ticket. It is not clear why anyone would want to pay for this, when it would be so much cheaper to expand existing airports. Does the Mayor of London want to close Heathrow and move its 75,000 directly employed staff and 40,000 ancillary staff to Medway, or keep it open, with British Airways and other airlines saying that they would then refuse to move.

The Davies Commission will look at all the arguments and produce an interim report in late 2013 and a final report in 2015. These will not bind government but I would ask you to sign our petition and contact the Davies Commission to expose the weakness of arguments for a Thames Estuary airport.

Even Boris has now said that his desired new hub airport could instead be at Stansted. If £5 billion were spent on a Crossrail spur from Stansted to Stratford this would link Stansted to the City in 25 minutes, the West End (or Ebbsfleet) in 35 minutes and Heathrow in less than an hour. Gatwick are also now pushing to have a second runway.

We should use this opportunity with the Davies Commission to rule out environmentally devastating proposals for a Thames Estuary Airport once and for all.

Mark Reckless MP and volunteers from across the community will be visiting households across the Hoo Peninsula asking residents to sign his Parliamentary petition against the airport. You can show your support for the No Estuary Airport campaign now by completing the online petition form – click here.

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