The Mayor is talking airports again. This morning Boris Johnson launched three proposals for expanding London's air capacity, that will be delivered to the Davies Airports Commission by Friday.
Having already dismissed the idea of extending Heathrow, Boris has put forward three options:
- Lord Norman Foster's Isle of Grain airport planned for reclaimed land off the Hoo Peninsula, which is an important birdlife habitat and "the very worst spot you could put an airport" according to the chief executive of NATS air traffic control
- the Thames Estuary or 'Boris Island', not favoured by the government and the most expensive, budgeted at £65bn
- expanding Stansted, but BAA has previously pointed out that the Essex airport already has spare capacity and airlines aren't interested in taking it.
Under all of these plans Heathrow would be turned into a new London borough, a 'garden city' with new homes, a commercial and retail centre, technology park and university. Whether businesses would stay in zone 6 without the lure of one of the world's biggest airports, and whether that would be enough to offset making 114,000 Heathrow employees redundant (plus local businesses that rely on it), we don't know.
Of course, even with all this fanfare, the decision on airports isn't in the Mayor's power – it lies entirely with central government, who also have the unhappy task of funding whatever option gets the thumbs up. With another cyclist dead on London's roads this morning, at Holborn, following the deaths of Philippine De Gerin-Ricard and Paul Hutcheson and a cyclist critically injured by a bus last week, is it unreasonable to ask that as much enthusiasm be pumped into road safety – which does lie within City Hall's remit?