London’s mayoral office headed by the whimsical and often controversial Mayor, Boris Johnson has waded in to the discussions over the future of London’s Heathrow Airport
as the UK’s main transport hub.
Heathrow is operating at close to capacity and its position close to and increasingly part of urban London has made the prospect of extending the airport problematic.
Daniel Moylan, the mayor’s aviation guru has come up with radical options for providing a solution, some of which deserve consideration whilst others possibly don’t deserve a second thought.
Overriding his suggestions is the situation where London finds itself short of housing stock and with the airport covering an acreage the same size as many London boroughs, he’s suggested that the airport closes and builds up to 200,000 new homes on the site, raking in enough income (and profit) to be able to relocate Heathrow to the current hot option of building a super airport in the Thames Estuary.
With transport links into London already in place; the Piccadilly line tube and the Bristol to Paddington rail line not far away, this is a tempting option and one that would surely become a reality if the Thames Estuary Airport is given the go ahead. Aviation and conservation experts worry about fog banks in the estuary and the large number of estuarine birds that live there and which could pose a threat to aircraft.
Alternative suggestions include making Stansted London’s hub airport adding a further runway there to take it up to four. This option is apparently favoured by the mayor as is the option to make Birmingham Airport London’s hub. Bizarre, but apparently possible if high speed train links into the capital are allowed to pass through Birmingham Airport on the way to the capital. With trains reaching up to 300 km/h, a journey time of around 45 minutes would be feasible; not too different to the Heathrow to city journey today.
Whilst the plan for the moment seems to be to squeeze in a third runway at Heathrow, it’s deemed to be likely to take so long before it becomes operational that it will obsolete before it opens.
What has become patently clear in the discussions is that something needs to be done and that political wrangling has to be put to the side if London is to remain a competitive European hub with the billions of pounds of business it brings to the capital and country.