A new airport built on sand banks in the English Channel has been proposed as a wild-card solution for London’s need for a new aviation hub.
Designed by London-based maritime engineers Beckett Rankine, the plan would use hazardous sandbanks just 1.8 miles off the coast of Kent as a base for a four-runway offshore airport.
And the plan appears to have drawn support from the Mayor of London’s aviation adviser, Daniel Moylan, who said the Goodwin Airport proposal was “welcome as a contribution to a critical national debate and as a demonstration that a new airport is feasible and deliverable”.
“The arguments for the construction of a new hub airport in the UK are overwhelming and this proposal offers one option of how to build it,” he added.
News of the plan follows London mayor Boris Johnson’s backing for a feasibility study into expanding Stansted airport into a four-runway ‘superhub’ airport - an indication that he may support the scheme to prevent further development at Heathrow.
Beckett Rankine director Tim Beckett explained that the Kent offshore plan appeared to be the only way of providing a big enough independent airport for London.
“If the Davies Commission endorses the long-term requirement for a new, four runway hub airport for London, then locating it at Goodwin will have the least adverse social and environmental impact of any option,” he said. “It is certainly the most sustainable solution available.”
Among the advantages, the firm highlighted excellent transport links with a 40-minute high-speed rail connection to and road access via the A2 and M20 as well as Eurostar connections to Europe.
The site is also within UK territorial waters and owned by the Crown Estate and unlike the other solutions connected to the land, this alternative will allow take-off and landing over water, enabling unrestricted 24-hour operations.
The development would not require the demolition of homes or displacement of residents, it is argued, and will not impact on any protected environment or interfere with any shipping lanes.
“The location of an airport offshore is an alternative that crowded island nations are turning to across the globe,” added Mr Beckett. “It is the solution recently adopted at South Korea’s new Incheon Airport and at Kansai Airport in Japan and in Hong Kong.”
“All the [other] sites either interfere with shipping lanes or else are too small to provide four runways sufficiently spaced for independent operation. The land connected sites do not provide take-off and landing over water which ought to be the principal benefit of a new offshore airport since it enables 24-hour operations, maximising utilisation of the airport.
“Goodwin Airport has none of these disadvantages.”