Last November, I pronounced the plainly ridiculous proposal by London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson for an airport in the Thames estuary “dead and buried”. In this I was doing no more than following the observation made almost a year earlier by Tom Barry at Boris Watch, who concluded that the scheme was “Not Just Dead But Rotting”. Now it is, at last official.
What you will not see - cos it ain't being built
We know this as London’s toe-curlingly pro-Mayor newspaper the Evening Standard, aka the London Daily Bozza, has dared to splash the headline “Boris Island Thames Estuary airport ‘dead in the water’ after cost estimates soar”. When Bozza’s main cheerleader admits it, it’s game over. And the reason for the Standard’s capitulation is all too obvious, when you look at the numbers.
Even last December, when the Davies Commission reported on London’s airports, the Boris Island option came out badly, apparently needing a subsidy of £60 billion compared to its competitors. Heathrow and Gatwick, on the other hand, looked rather better. One might have thought that Bozza would have stopped wasting money on the idea there and then. One would have been wrong.
On he ploughed, telling anyone not yet asleep that the only option worth pursuing was that favoured by Himself Personally Now. But now, with the cost of transport links reviewed, it is clear that Boris Island was never worth pursing in the first place. Road and rail links could end up costing as much as £44 billion in total – in other words, more than the highest estimate for the HS2 project (£42.9 billion).
On top of that, it is now admitted by the Standard that the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery would have to be dealt with, 1,500 tonnes of TNT and all. The relevant report tells that “Full containment or removal are deemed high-risk and high-cost options, potentially requiring evacuation of the local area for a period of many weeks or months”. Just in case it all goes bang.
Despite being effectively told that Boris Island is dead, though, Bozza’s aviation advisor Daniel Moylan is apparently in denial: “Our team will now analyse these reports in detail but it appears they confirm the huge benefits to the country's prosperity that would flow from moving Heathrow to a new location and prove that there are challenges, but no showstoppers, to achieving that”. He’s off his trolley.
He even concluded “The Airports Commission can have no alternative but to include the estuary option on its formal shortlist”, despite the Standard reporting that the authors of one report “also questioned the plan’s commercial viability, suggesting it could lead to higher passenger costs and business lost to competitors”. So, although the Standard knows the game is up, the Bozzabunker won’t accept it.
They sup some strong stuff at the Mayor’s office. But it won’t make this idea fly.