By Maximilian Clarke

It is already to late to build the controversial Thames Estuary airport and money would be better invested boosting Gatwick and linking it to Heathrow, Victoria Borwick argues.

The complexities of building the artificial island on which the colossal airport hub would lie would mean that it would be decades before and return was reaped from the sizeable investment,

Instead, argues the London Assembly member, a virtual hub made by connecting Gatwick to Heathrow via high-speed rail and by building a second runway at Heathrow. This would help boost capacity and deliver more rapid returns.

Mrs Borwick explains: “The idea of a Thames Estuary airport is a great one — that’s why they started building one in the early 1970s, but Harold Wilson’s government scrapped it. Decades have now passed with no real long-term thought given to how we accommodate growth in demand for aviation. We need to expand our routes to the emerging economies of the Far East and Latin America.

“Plans for an estuary airport at last recognise the need to expand capacity, but it would take decades to build — and we need that capacity now. “That is why I am proposing that Heathrow and Gatwick are turned into a virtual hub airport, linked by high-speed rail, that a second runway is built at Gatwick and that more efficient use is made of London’s “second tier” airports such as Southend and Manston.

“I believe that this solution will provide the capacity we need, at a much lower cost and much more quickly than the Estuary idea and that it should be seriously examined as a solution to London air capacity crunch.”

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