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Boris will not rule out estuary airport

PUBLISHED: 09:39 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:12 23 August 2010

THE Mayor of London will continue with a study into plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary, despite the Transport Secretary dismissing the idea as just not practical . In February this year, the Reporter revealed plans for an airport in north Kent h

THE Mayor of London will continue with a study into plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary, despite the Transport Secretary dismissing the idea as "just not practical".

In February this year, the Reporter revealed plans for an airport in north Kent had been put back on the agenda by the Tory Mayor Boris Johnson, is to launch a feasibility study into the proposals

But during a House of Commons debate the Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said environmental concerns and the risk of bird strike means the project should not go ahead.

He said: "One of the main reasons why the Mayor of London's proposals are not practical is that building an estuarial airport in places of ecological sensitivity, which have large seabird populations, is not practical, because of both the impact on the environment and the risk of bird strike."

When the idea was first raised in 2002, more than 150,000 people rejected the idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary. The idea was then axed during preparation for the 2003 White Paper, The Future of Air Transport.

Mr Hoon added: "As the White Paper makes clear, the option and other proposals for a new airport in the Thames Estuary were rejected in favour of supporting development at existing airports in the south east of England. That remains the government's position."

Since Mr Johnson put the proposals back on the agenda, it has been attacked by campaigners from Friends of North Kent marshes, who fought against the original plans, and the RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds), who are worried about the environmental impact of such a plan.

Kent Green Party claim plans for hundreds of wind turbines in the Thames Estuary could put an end to the proposals altogether.

But this week, a spokesperson for Boris Johnson said: "The Mayor remains very keen to know what the alternatives are to expansion at Heathrow and would like to know whether the idea of a new airport in the Thames estuary would be viable or not.

"He therefore wants to undertake a study to establish the feasibility of the idea once and for all and is in the process of examining the best way to take the study forward.

"If there were an economic, environmental, political or practical reason why this airport should not be built it will not. But the Mayor feels it is right to consider the arguments rather than dismiss them recklessly because of a dogmatic commitment to an impractical, unpopular and unsustainable policy of expanding Heathrow.

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