The Thick of It

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A new airport for London, are you serious Boris?

I underestimated Boris Johnson. I didn't think he was that serious in pursuing plans for a new London airport in the Thames Estuary. I'm sorry for underestimating Johnson and not anticipating the all of the bad ideas he throws his considerable weight behind.

After suggesting that Heathrow cannot meet London's needs into the future he proposes to undertake yet another study into the viability of a new airport somewhere else. Not so long ago he was espousing the virtues of a new airport in the Thames Estuary, Boris Island. This idea was widely panned, by airlines and locals alike for cutting off access to large parts of the UK and for cutting off the jobs supply to west London.

If airlines don't want to move and the government doesn't want to provide any money for a new airport our mayor would be better of spending time and scarce money improving London's current transport headaches. He could negotiate with the tube unions and put a stop to strikes, like he promised, or he could accept that he needs the money from the Western Congestion Charge zone and bring it back, he could introduce a higher charge for gas guzzlers, he could investigate options for future London transport links, like cross-river tram, that he cancelled.

While Heathrow really matters to London, Boris has wasted most of his mayoralty investigating plans for an alternative and has delivered nothing. He has also delivered only one major change to London's transport - higher costs and lower revenues. I really should have anticipated that.

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