Belfast Telegraph

Mayor fury after 'Boris Island' plan shot down

By Clare Weir

London Mayor Boris Johnson has slammed the Government-appointed Airports Commission for rejecting the 'Boris Island' Thames Estuary airport plan.

Mr Johnson said the body's decision was "myopic" and claimed alternative schemes were not "long-term solutions".

The thumbs-down for the four-runway plan leaves the commission, which is headed by Sir Howard Davies, with three shortlisted projects.

Two of them involve expansion of Heathrow Airport in west London, and the other a new runway at Gatwick in West Sussex.

The new airport was ruled out after the commission said its disadvantages outweighed any potential benefits.

In June, it was claimed new routes from Heathrow Airport in the event of the hub's expansion could boost Northern Ireland businesses and make the region more attractive to investors.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow's director of sustainability, was speaking at a Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce event which also heard an estimate by Oxford Economics that flights between Belfast and Heathrow support 900 jobs here.

"Northern Ireland business is heavily reliant on connections to international markets through Heathrow," Mr Gorman said

"We want to add up to 40 new long-haul, direct routes and improve our connectivity to other UK airports."

The Heathrow and Gatwick options had been shortlisted by the commission last December, with Sir Howard announcing that further studies would be made on the estuary plan with a decision towards the end of 2014.

The commission is due to make its final report to ministers in summer 2015 after the coming general election.

Nathan Stower, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association, said: "Britain needs additional runway capacity in the south east of England, but not at any price.

"With the Thames Estuary option sensibly ruled out for good, the commission is free now to concentrate on scrutinising the business cases of the three shortlisted options."

Back Heathrow campaign co-ordinator Rob Gray claimed the decision was good news.

"This is a major victory for the thousands of local residents in west London who had begun to fear the wo rst," he added.

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