Thames Estuary airport plans to be examined

Jan 19 2012

The government is to hold a formal consultation on UK aviation - including controversial plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

The study, to begin in March, will look at options for "maintaining the UK's aviation hub status".

Downing Street said no decisions had been made - London Mayor Boris Johnson backs the Thames airport idea.

David Cameron has ruled out expanding Heathrow but his deputy Nick Clegg is said to be opposed to the estuary idea.

Labour said the coalition was in a "complete mess" over aviation policy.

Bird life

The airport would be built partly on reclaimed land and could be on either an island or a peninsula.

But concerns have been raised about damage to the environment.

Campaigners say the site, which is renowned for its populations of wintering birds and is an important breeding ground for avocets and marsh harriers in summer, must be protected.

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne did not rule out a new hub and this was seen by many as a sign that the government was warming to the scheme.

David Cameron is said to be supportive of Mr Johnson's alternative to expanding Heathrow in west London but will await the outcome of the consultation. The Lib Dems oppose airport expansion in south east England.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News 2011 BBC


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