Norman Foster Weighs In On Thames Airport

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 81 months ago
Norman Foster Weighs In On Thames Airport

The idea of a Thames airport just will not die, despite plenty of attempts to kill it off. Now Foster + Partners are getting in on the act, preparing to launch a study for a "Thames Hub" combining a new airport, rail freight, tidal energy generation and flood protection.

All this is planned for the Isle of Grain at the edge of Kent's Hoo Peninsula, rather than the middle of the bloody river as Boris Johnson has previously championed. The airport would have four runways, be capable of handling 150m passengers per year (Heathrow dealt with 65.7m in 2010) and be powered by tidal barrage.

Foster has previous for building impressive airports out of nothing – the architecture firm was behind Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong, constructed on reclaimed land – and their press release contains some persuasive infrastructure arguments. But there's still no explanation for what will happen to the area's birdlife, nor a solution to the airlines' disapproval of moving across town. Plus local councillors have pointed out there's a massive Liquified Natural Gas terminal there. The full study will be out in September – we'll take a look and report back then.

Aerial shot of Heathrow by Manuel.A.69 from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 01 August 2011


IMHO An East London Airport with approach over the water is an excellent idea. While the environmental impacts should be mitigated, the current situation where Heathrow is allowed to cause massive noise pollution across most of south London is insane. 


the RSPB and a broad coalition of millions, we are wholly opposed to the
construction of an airport anywhere in the Thames Estuary because of the
immense damage it would cause to the area’s internationally important wildlife
and the wider environment. The whole issue was exhaustively investigated
between 2002 and 2005 in the Government’s Aviation White Paper. ALL the key
players, including the aviation industry, contributed. The idea of an airport
in the Thames Estuary was conclusively ruled out and upheld by the High Court.
In addition to the unprecedented environmental damage and the resulting massive
legal implications, the investigation found that an estuary airport did not
make sense economically, would not meet the requirements of the aviation
industry and presented a significantly higher risk of ‘bird strike’ than at any
other major airport in the UK. It would potentially be the single biggest piece
of environmental vandalism ever perpetrated in the UK.