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Boris airport' plan comes a step nearer

PUBLISHED: 16:28 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:24 23 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS slammed Boris Johnson for scouting sites for a Thames Estuary airport months after saying he was not looking at environmentally sensitive areas.

CAMPAIGNERS slammed Boris Johnson for scouting sites for a Thames Estuary airport months after saying he was not looking at environmentally sensitive areas.

The Mayor of London on Friday toured the Thames Estuary in a 120m dredger.

He was accompanied by a team of engineers including Doug Oakervee, the man behind Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok island airport, who is currently working on a feasibility study.

Mr Johnson believes the Thames Estuary airport, dubbed 'Boris Island', to be a viable alternative to controversial plans to expand Heathrow Airport.

He said: "The trip has reaffirmed in my mind that a new airport in the Thames estuary has got to be factored in as an option for London's long-term aviation needs. I am reassured by a number of aspects of this visit and will now eagerly await Doug Oakervee's initial feasibility study."

The trip comes just three months after Mr Johnson exclusively told the Kentish Times that he would not target Cliffe Marshes, but campaigners say building an airport anywhere in the Thames Estuary would be disastrous for the environment. An RSPB spokesperson said: "Building an airport on an artificial island in the Thames estuary will add further profound impacts which have not yet been quantified, not least to the important populations of wildfowl and waders that depend upon the Thames. To deny any impact on the basis of a single boat trip smacks of Nelson's telescope, placed to his missing eye - 'I see no ships'."

Mr Oakervee says from an engineering perspective the project would be simpler than those already carried out in floating airports such as Chek Lap Kok and Kansai in Japan and is expected to complete his report in March.

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