Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Boris Johnson paddles away from island airport

Boris Johnson today dramatically distanced himself from plans to construct an airport in the Thames Estuary.

Asked by Val Shawcross AM why the airport is not in his Transport Strategy he replied that while it was an interesting idea:

"I do not have an aspiration to construct such an airport."

Boris had initially refused to even discuss the airport with the Transport Committee, saying that it was at "too early a stage."

However, when pushed, he told the committee:

"I think it is very important that we clear up the status of this feasibility study and the status of this airport. I do not have an aspiration to construct such an airport. What I think it is right for us at the GLA is to look in a progressive way at all the possibilities for aviation capacity around london. And that is all we are doing"

The admission comes just one day after Doug Oakervee published the long delayed feasibility study into the airport.

Unusually it was not published on the Mayor's website, and the Mayor released no statement to accompany it.

It was however accompanied by derision from both the City of London and from an alliance of Conservative Councils in Kent.

The Conservative leadership have also distanced themselves from the project.

Boris Johnson's new steering group will look at plans for an airport.

However, their remit has shifted away from the airport alone, towards the wider issues of development in the Thames Estuary.

And while Boris's Deputy Kit Malthouse said it could be built within ten years, Oakervee's plans push construction back to 2029, long after Boris will have gone.

So barring the arrival of any mystery sheiks, Boris's Island will continue to resemble NeverNeverLand.


Mark C said...

would it be possible to find out how much cash they've spunked away on this ridiculous waste of time?

Helen said...

Boris stated the site wasn't in Greater London - has he only just realised?

Why, then, has the Mayor of London been arsing about with ideas for an enormous project which is well beyond his remit?

Maybe the Mayor of Doncaster would like to commission a report on building a holding centre for illegal immigrants off the coast of Liverpool?

AdamB said...

Difficult to say Mark. Oakervee's study itself cost about £10,000 I seem to remember and Oakervee wants to spend £10 million over the next three years on a Thames Estuary working group, although Boris hasn't yet authorised that.

However, GLA staff have also wasted a lot of their time on it as well:


It's a costly distraction from dealing with the immediate transport issues in London (and not in Kent)

Tom said...

It's notable that Oakervee wants to spent £10,000,000 and Boris has authorised, er, £1000.

If that's not a 'please bugger off', I don't know what is.

Helen said...

Seriously? That piece of (abominably-written, illustrated by toddlers) tosh cost us £10,000?

AdamB said...

I'm trying to find where on london.gov.uk I read that, but I'm pretty sure that was the figure.

I was surprised at how little detail there was in there considering it's taken him a year (assuming it hasn't just been sitting on Boris's desk since the March deadline)

What did he actually do apart from dust off half a dozen old proposals? He didn't even bother to read the info that the DfT had on the Cliffe proposals for example.

AdamB said...

Via Boris Watch I see that Ross Lydall also thinks the airport idea has been "kicked into the long grass." Interesting post here:


Tom said...

"it's taken him a year"

It hasn't, he started it in June after finishing at Crossrail, met other engineers under Chatham House Rules on 15th July and it was on Boris's desk on the 7th August, since when Kit and Boris have sat on it.

In other words, if it looks like a rush job, it's because it was.

Ironically there's a *much* better report called SN/BT/4920 on the Thames Estuary and airports, written for MPs, which is actually newer than Oakervee's!


Quietzapple said...

Surely a better site for a wind farm?

Harold said...

What a pity there will not be a lasting geographical feature that commemorates his term in office.
Still time to glue him to the 4th plinth, though

saifu03 said...

Boris changed his mind?
I think the narrative demands that he is now a "listening mayor".

As i said before (about Boff), if he had just not rushed to conclusions and actually had some evidence to back up his nonsense, then he could have just been a listening mayor at first.

It is not in London!

I don't think the monetary cost is that major, £10k? That will keep Coleman in taxis for a few weeks, it is more the opportunity cost. What could the bloody deputy Mayor and the actual Mayor have been doing if they had not been twatting around on the river?

AdamB said...

I'm not sure he's changed his mind as such. The airport will continue to be raised from time to time as a sop to the expansion lobby. It's just that he's in no position to commit to something that nobody within his party leadership (either nationally or locally) wants to touch with a barge pole.

I'm sure we can still continue to expect regular updates from Malthouse and his friends at the Times though.