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Davies Commission to exclude Thames Estuary airport proposals

The Airports Commission has announced its decision to exclude proposals for an inner Thames Estuary airport from its shortlist of options for new aviation capacity.

The commission concluded that the proposal, backed by the mayor of London and dubbed ‘Boris Island’, has “substantial disadvantages that collectively outweigh its potential benefits”.

Following the feasibility study, it said the estuary airport could cost up to £90bn, making it significantly more expensive than the alternative options, and also more expensive than the £47bn put forward by the bid team.

Airports Commission chair Howard Davies said: “We are not persuaded that a very large airport in the Thames Estuary is the right answer to London’s and the UK’s connectivity needs.”

He added that there were “serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary”.

“The economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which may prove impossible, or very time-consuming, to surmount.

“Even the least ambitious version of the scheme would cost £70bn to £90bn with much greater public expenditure involved than in other options – probably some £30bn to £60bn in total.”

The commission will now continue its appraisal of the three options shortlisted in December 2013: a second runway at Gatwick Airport, a third runway at Heathrow Airport and a ‘Heathrow Hub’ involving the extension of an existing runway.

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