By Jonathan Davies

Plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary, backed by Boris Johnson and dubbed 'Boris Island', have been rejected with the chairman of the commission labelling the plans as "reckless".

Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, said the cost, economic disruption and environmental factors meant 'Boris Island' was not a viable option.

The four runway airport on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary would have cost between £30-60bn, even for the smaller option suggested by the Mayor of London - it would have been "reckless" to go ahead with the plans at that cost, Sir Howard said.

In the commission's report, Sir Howard Davies said: "We are not persuaded that a very large airport in the Thames estuary is the right answer to London's and the UK's connectivity needs.

"While we recognise the need for a hub airport, we believe this should be a part of an effective system of competing airports to meet the needs of a widely spread and diverse market like London's.

"There are serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary.

"The economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount."

Boris Johnson hit back with a strongly worded statement: "In one myopic stroke the Airports Commission has set the debate back by half a century and consigned their work to the long list of vertically filed reports on aviation expansion that are gathering dust on a shelf in Whitehall."

Despite the plans being rejected by the Airports Commission, the Mayor of London believes the plans aren't dead. But with 'Boris Island' seemingly out of the running, the Airports Commissions must now evaluate plans for an extra runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick, while Stansted and Luton could be have an outside chance of being selected.

Business lobby group, CBI, yesterday (Monday) said that a single UK hub airport with strong links to several routes to emerging markets was key to the future of the UK economy.

Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate said the commission's decision was the right one.

"This is an important juncture in the aviation debate because now Britain's choice is clear; expand Gatwick and support genuine competition, lower fares and greater choice for passengers or expand Heathrow and return to the stale monopoly of the past and watch the cost of going on holiday, travelling for business and exporting goods and service go up."

Are you disappointed with today's news? Where would you like to see an extra runway now that 'Boris Island' is out of the running? You can email your reactions to editor@freshbusinessthinking.com

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