Monday, 8 March 2010

Tory Council demands meeting with Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is continuing on his Kamikaze mission to build an airport in the Thames Estuary, despite all major parties opposing it both nationally and locally.

Now the Conservative leader of Medway Council has had enough.

He has written the following open letter, demanding a face to face meeting with the Mayor:

Dear Boris

It would appear that a number of differing and conflicting views are coming out of your office with regards to the Thames Estuary airport.

Last week, I went with my fellow councillors as part of a delegation from Medway Council to see deputy mayor, Kit Malthouse, to demand that your island airport plan is grounded.

We all made our view completely clear – that we are unanimously against this pie in the sky scheme.

Mr Malthouse told us that the steering group you have set up into the airport will continue and that he hoped that ‘from a personal point of view’ we will eventually see the benefit of placing a six runway airport on an island off the Kent and Medway coast.

This is despite the fact that the infrastructure needed for this would devastate the countryside here. Not to mention the damage aircraft landing and taking off in the estuary would do to the internationally renowned environmental wetland sites on the Hoo Peninsula and along the Thames where hundreds of thousands of birds migrate to annually.

Hours after our meeting it emerged that your chief engineer behind the airport plan, Doug Oakervee, had suddenly, and somewhat mysteriously, pulled out of an important meeting with the London Assembly on the airport due to take place this week.

Just days later, you were on BBC’s Question Time telling the audience: “I don't want to build an estuary in the, er, an airport in the Thames Estuary.”

This lack of clarity is confusing and I strongly feel this whole matter needs to be cleared up.

Last year, I wrote to you asking for a meeting with Medway Council's group leaders. You replied stating that you would not meet me at that time, but that we could see Mr Malthouse instead. As mentioned, we did last week.

In view of the events that followed, coupled with the fact that I do strongly believe it is correct and proper that we meet with you as the mayor rather than with a deputy, I now urge you to reconsider and agree to such a meeting.

As before, I would request that this meeting with you not only includes myself, but the other group leaders of Medway Council.

I feel that this is the only way we can properly tell you why we are unanimously of the view that your plan for an island airport off the Kent and Medway coast must not happen.

Your sincerely,

Rodney Chambers,
Leader of Medway Council

[my hyperlink]

Interesting that Kit Malthouse and Boris believe people will "eventually see the benefit" of the airport, when even their own party leader and councillors currently don't.

I wonder how they plan to change people's minds?

Mayor answers to London
Thames Estuary Airport
[Supplementary question]
Question number 2382/2008
Meeting date 12/11/2008

Question by Kit Malthouse

Mr Mayor, would you agree with me that if on 17 January this year BA flight 038 had come down 800 yards short of where it actually crash landed at just over the perimeter of Heathrow we would not actually be arguing about re-siting the airport, we would be discussing where the best place to put it is?

Answer by Boris Johnson

I could not put the point more powerfully...

Well I guess they could always raise fears and exploit personal tragedy? It's worked before.


-Update- Rodney Chambers has also written a piece for MayorWatch calling Boris "increasingly isolated" over the airport.

14 comments:

Tom said...

Oddly, the best place for a London airport is where it's always been - 30-40 miles to the northwest, near the major London-NW transport routes and closer to the UK centre of population.

This is never going to happen because it's well-heeled Tory voting territory and they'd, er, raise hell and send delegations to shout at any politician daft enough to propose it, as happened after the Roskill Commission recommended something along those lines.

Odd that Kit isn't using fear-mongering arguments about 777s dropping out of the sky to propose reanimating the Cublington plans...

Me? I'd put it at Upper Heyford, so the planes would overfly Jeremy Clarkson's place.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Boris is beating this long dead creature to death isn't he?

A dangerous hobby horse indeed.

AdamB said...

Yes it's a long dead hobby horse that he's flogging (as David Cameron might say to him)

Another tom said...

I wonder if the point of the proposals is that they will fail, but the Boris can look like he's doing something about the problem of Heathrow.

As a classical liberal (in his head at least) Boris doesn't really do grand state-backed projects, he certainly wouldn't be able or willing to drive through a complex long-term planning fight against vested interests.

This can be tested: if and when the political losses from 'fighting' for this airport outweigh the gains of placating the Sunday Times' campaign, then the airport plan will fade into obscurity. On my reckoning, we are about one-third through this latter course of action. Expect another few millions more to be wasted on consultants first, however.

ian said...

So if it had come down 800 yards short of an island in the estuary, that would be a good thing?

AdamB said...

Another Tom: I think that's broadly right although I do believe that he does think ththe airport would be a good idea. That this conviction was based on thorough research I doubt. That it was based solely upon reading an article by Kit Malthouse in the Times I do not doubt:

http://twitpic.com/16dvsa

and:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article2925884.ece

AdamB said...

Ian - Certainly not if it hits this:

http://www.oldsaltblog.com/2009/02/17/the-wreck-of-the-ss-richard-montgomery-a-wwii-time-bomb/

Tom said...

It's a nailed on certainty that more West Londoners have been killed by people driving to Heathrow than have been killed by planes flying into Heathrow, in any case. It's like the bendy bus statistics - total inability to compare risk against common sense.

Rob said...

The whole area of marshland along the Thames estuary is a massively important wetland habitat. Many wetland birds breed here, many more overwinter here from the Arctic and during the migratory period it's a major stop over between the arctic breeding grounds and lower latitudes.

For example, it contains over a quarter of all the UK's avocets (the bird on the RSPB's logo). It's a regular wintering ground for many species of geese, there are some very large heronries in the area, gulls in ridiculous numbers and large numbers of waders which sometimes create enormous flocks. The bird strike risk for the area is rather great as a result. Geese, herons, cormorants, swans and great black backed gulls are all particularly dangerous to aircraft given their mass and they're ubiquitous. The bird strike risk assessment done for the proposed Cliffe airport was fairly damning and I see no reason why it would be any different for an artificial island. The assessment used to be available on the DfT website but it has since been removed/expired. Fortunately I have my own copy and I'd be happy to email it on to anyone if they want it.

AdamB said...

Hi Rob. Yes please email it via the link at the top of the page. Cheers.

Anthony@T.mobile.com said...

I remember someone somewhere describing Boris Johnson's Mayoralty as " Delirius and Deluded ", I think that sums up Boris Johnson's Mayoralty accurately without question.

Anthony@T.mobile.com said...

I remember someone somewhere describing Boris Johnson's Mayoralty as " Delirius and Deluded ", I think that sums up Boris Johnson's Mayoralty accurately without question.

Anonymous said...

I know that the rail line to Maplin was going to start at Kings' Cross, and one set of tunnels north of Kings' Cross has been empty since then, but I've never seen information about what the route would have been. Does anybody know?

Guano

prj45 said...

Question by Kit Malthouse "Mr Mayor, would you agree with me that if on 17 January this year BA flight 038 had come down 800 yards short of where it actually crash landed at just over the perimeter of Heathrow we would not actually be arguing about re-siting the airport, we would be discussing where the best place to put it is?"

How about introducing another airport, overcomplicating air traffic over one of the world's largest urban conglomeration, and having TWO planes strike each other whilst flying over it?