Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Boris Island engineer marooned in Hong Kong

The man appointed to lead Boris Johnson's beleaguered Island Airport scheme has pulled out of a key meeting with the London Assembly.

Civil engineer Doug Oakervee had for several months been booked for questioning by members of the Environment Committee.

However, Doug's employers Laing O'Rourke wrote to the committee's chair last week stating that "this is no longer the position."

According to company bosses, Oakervee is:

"required to be in Hong Kong to play a key role in our tender programme for the "Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and other major projects in the Region."

and is therefore:

"unlikely to be available to your committee for some months to come."

The news comes a day after:

  • Tory representatives of Kent Councils protested against the airport and the "predatory" Mayor.
  • "90% of airlines" came out against the plans.
  • After claims by Boris's former deputy that David Cameron was furious about the proposals.

Millions to be poured into the Estuary

Despite all this opposition, Boris still wants millions of pounds more to be spent on the scheme.

According to minutes of a meeting of the Steering Committee, Boris wants a further feasibility study into the proposals costing £5 million.

Boris believes it would be funded by "other bodies" including central government (unlikely) Kent Council (even more unlikely) and even Boris's own London Develeopment Agency.

Although quite why he thinks money for the development of London should be spent on the development of Kent is anyone's guess.

However, there are signs that even Boris's Steering Committee now have doubts about the airport.

According to the minutes of their first meeting last December:

"Sir David noted that the title of the group was to be the Thames Estuary Steering Group rather than the Thames Estuary Airport Steering Group...

The Group discussed its scope and role, with particular reference to whether or not it was to focus primarily on the feasibility of an airport in the estuary...

The work of the Group should not assume that a recommendation for an airport in the estuary would be the outcome."

The group agreed to meet "every two months" with the next meeting planned for the start of last month.

No further minutes have been published.

-Update- Chair of the Environment Committee and Labour Assembly Member Murad Qureshi said this afternoon:

"Oakervee's own feasibility study said that work on the Thames Estuary Development Study needs to start no later than the summer of 2010. His employer has told us that he is unavailable and this indicates that the next stage of development is unlikely to happen within that timeframe."

-Update- Medway (Conservative) Council have just launched this poster campaign against Boris's plans:


Helen said...

Why didn't Oakervee contact them himself? Very odd.

AdamB said...

Isn't it just? Suggests to me that this isn't quite the priority for Doug that Boris and Kit would like it to be.

Let's not forget he's not even getting paid for this work.

Chris said...

£5 million pound! You could buy at least two of Boris's new vanity buses for that!

AdamB said...

At a push...

Anonymous said...

Is that poster brought to us in association with British Pie Week?

AdamB said...

Well I'm sure it's not in any way a comment on the two, ahem, biggest proponents of the scheme