Boris Won't Get his Island

So the Airports Commission has rules out Boris Island. Good thing or not?

Personal view, this is typical inward looking lack of long term vision; a golden opportunity has been missed. Presumably Heathrow will get one or two more runways and there will be more flights across London.

Any views?
 
Digging up a wildlife migratory wetland? The tofu weavers/twitchers/EUcrats would be apoplectic. I actually don't care, anything south of Watford seems to be a foreign nation now. (whoa, calm down Enoch!)
 

NSP

LE
If they build in the Thames then when the winds are from the east you're still going to have aircraft on approach over the city. When they are from the west, take-offs and climb-out will be over the city.

At least one of the proposed sites is where Grain power station is and would doubtless need the removal of the SS Richard Montgomery and cargo. This has been left as being safer than salvage (and cheaper). Apparently the estimated condition from surveys of the remaining cargo is such that it would take out Sheerness and most of the windows in Southend so the Grain site would be well within the affected radius if it went off. And it doesn't necessarily follow that an accident is the only thing that could trigger a detonation...

The co-chair of the Lib Dem committee on transport, Julian Huppert disagreed saying "This report shows the ship’s slow deterioration is continuing with the lethal cargo still on board," and "This must surely put an end to the bonkers idea of building an airport in the Thames estuary." (From Montgomery Wiki article).

The proposal Boris favours, reclaiming sandbars to the east of Sheppey, will be a) very expensive, b) be surrounded by windfarms that interfere with radar and radio* and c) upset the tree-huggers as the sandbars attract large colonies of seals which bask there at low tide. There are ecological/habitat reasons for not building at Grain or the other two proposed sites, also (as alluded to in #2). All those birds, all those engine intakes...

Presumably, then, the least disruptive and possibly cheapest plan would be to expand Gatwick. The land-grab compulsory purchase costs, building costs and generously compensating affected residents and businesses by building them nicer, bigger houses and premises elsewhere nearby and picking up all their costs on top of the purchase costs (like they'd ever do that?!) would almost certainly be cheaper than doing the same for the more densely populated environs of Heathrow and, at a guess, has to be far, far cheaper than reclaiming and flood-defending acres of sand that is normally submerged for most of the day at the moment, let alone building on it. Boris admitted how much he'd spent on this project so far - without a plan being settled on - yesterday and it was astronomic.

Gatwick has a small amount of space directly south to fit an extra runway (SW-NE) in, or widen the existing runway, and space to the west for N-S runways with minimal demolition. Stansted has plenty of room to the N, NE and E but has smaller existing infrastructure and transport links to the capital. Heathrow is almost enveloped by conurbation and is bounded on two sides by major motorways. Luton is out due to geography and urban layout - and because the place needs bombing, not building.

In my view, then, it looks like Gatwick expansion is probably the most efficient and economical option.


* To qualify: have sailed past Horns Rev on the way in and out of Esbjerg many times and seen the effect on the ship's radar and also spent several weeks anchored just north of Kentish Flats turbine array and noticed the complete loss of mobile reception and the degradation of VHF comms with our anchor handler, which at no time put the windfarm between us and it. Coincidentally, the preceding weeks were spent anchored within 50m of the Richard Montgomery. It was just another wreck until we found out what it was and why - and then those three masts started looking a lot more spooky! I've other sources on why windfarms and aviation are incompatible but I'm not going into them here.

Attached a couple of my own snaps of the seals where Boris wants his island and the Montgomery, in the interests of veracity.


Richard Montgomery01.jpg Seals01.jpg
 
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Boris Island would work just fine.

That ship only had 1400 tons of TNT on board when it sank in 1944. If any of it is still explodable in 2014 I would be very very very surprised. Fire a torpedo into it and find out. I bet cock all happens.

When on Easterly landings Boris Island would have aircraft turning onto finals at around 15 miles to the East. Still nowhere near overhead London. Easterly landings only happen about one day in seven anyway. Take Off and Climb Out even if directly overhead London in a straight line would see all modern commercial jets at over 10,000ft as they reached the M25. You'd barely see or hear them over the traffic and background City noise.

WIndfarms pose no problem to modern synthetic picture radars. Their position is known and the software processes out their returns. The radar head need not be on the airport itself. Its a non issue. How a wind farm affects a radio communication is a mystery to me.

Nor are a few seals that may lie about on the sandbanks though I'd hardly say that bit of the North Sea is teeming with seals. Birds cope because there are thousands of miles of other coastline in near proximity they can wheel about above if the mood takes them.

Reclaimed land has been used around the world to build airports as large as Boris Island. Its a well understood engineering challenge.


Gatwick does have space for a South Runway. Unfortunately not so much for the two terminals and car parks and new roads and rail spur that you also need to make the runway into additional airport capacity.

Frankly we need a new runway at Gatwick, at Heathrow AND Boris Island and then - for once - this country might actually be getting ahead of future demand rather than expensively and tediously always trying to add it long after it became desperately needed.
 

4(T)

LE
Gatwick has quite a lot of greenfield & industrial park between the existing infrastructure and the suburbs of Crawley, i.e. there is plenty of potential for compulsory purchase and redevelopment without too much pain.

Development of any new airport outside the existing ones will drag on for 50 years or so. The demand is now, and getting more intense.

IMHO the only sensible option is to build as much as possible on south side of LHR and LGW, and maybe also at Stanstead - albeit Stanstead is not really suitable to supply the demand into London.

At least then there might be a chance to get something done to alleviate the current capacity crisis.
 
Isn't the highest percentage of winds in the UK come from the west.
Primarily the reason why in most towns and cities the industrial, sewage and obnoxious places are in the east side of the town.
 
So the Airports Commission has rules out Boris Island. Good thing or not?

Personal view, this is typical inward looking lack of long term vision; a golden opportunity has been missed. Presumably Heathrow will get one or two more runways and there will be more flights across London.

Any views?

The only purpose Boris Island ever had was to get Boris re-elected. It worked. It would have been quite useful for him if selected for Uxbridge too, so the timing is unfortunate for him.

As a plan, it was barking. Utterly unaffordable; miles away from anywhere and therefore accessible only to Londonites; on top of a shipful of bombs; in an area full of seabirds which are oh-so-good for jet engines; in an area known for fog which is oh-so-good for high density civil aviation; uncomfortably close to air routes into AMS and elsewhere; still involves flying over Londoners - but only the eastern ones (poorer and less Boris-minded than the West London types so hey, who cares about them anyway?).

As an electoral stunt it was quite clever - but it was never intended to be anything more! And there are people who want him as PM?
 

NSP

LE
When on Easterly landings Boris Island would have aircraft turning onto finals at around 15 miles to the East. Still nowhere near overhead London.
I'd have thought landings from the east would have been closer to Ramsgate than London! I take it you meant west [of the new airport]?

Easterly landings only happen about one day in seven anyway.
Most of my approaches into Heathrow (and I've made a few in my time!) have been from the east, over the city. Possibly due to the prevailing winds in this country being from the vicinity of the west. This would on the face of it be a plus for having the main airport to the east of the urban area as approaches into prevailing winds would be from over open water (bounded by land, which means frequent mists and fogs, so perhaps not such a plus). However, the wind is a fickle beast...

WIndfarms pose no problem to modern synthetic picture radars. Their position is known and the software processes out their returns. The radar head need not be on the airport itself. Its a non issue. How a wind farm affects a radio communication is a mystery to me.
I have it on good authority that the position of the RAF command is to oppose windfarm planning applications by default, and has a department to deal specifically with that rejection, due to the effect on our air defence early warning capability and aircraft radar. I'm not going into that any deeper, for what I trust are obvious reasons. On marine radar the effect is akin to jamming (from what I've read about it how it appears on 'scopes), especially if it's a large turbine array and most of the infernal things are turning. I might have a photo of the screen from one of our Horns Rev transits knocking around my HDD but in the interim whilst I have a rummage picture the screen being occupied by a massive solid white block of proportions in excess to the physical size of the target, with all sorts of fuzz, snow, and false returns orbiting around. Dunno about the radios much, either - I imagine it's to do with the rotating, angled blades bouncing signals around all over the place and generally putting all sorts of interference in the way - especially given all the electromagnetic activity going on with multiple alternators in close proximity to each other.

Nor are a few seals that may lie about on the sandbanks though I'd hardly say that bit of the North Sea is teeming with seals. Birds cope because there are thousands of miles of other coastline in near proximity they can wheel about above if the mood takes them.
I know - let's just concrete over what's left of the entire natural habitat of the entire British Isles and be done with it. It's inevitable anyway with the continued levels of immigration. The megacities of certain sci-fi fame may not be so fictional after all. But, seriously, enough estuary mudflats and wetlands will remain in the area of the proposed new-build airports for there to be plenty of large birds about. And we all know how good they are for engines...

Gatwick does have space for a South Runway. Unfortunately not so much for the two terminals and car parks and new roads and rail spur that you also need to make the runway into additional airport capacity.
Gatwick already has quite substantial terminals - certainly in excess of that available at Stansted and Luton (which feels like a prison once you're through security - unless they've put some windows in the thing since I was last passing through it). Stansted has room to expand massively to the north-east, if we can take the hit on lost arable capacity. Ditto Gatwick to the west. Luton is tiny and doesn't have anywhere to expand to the size needed for a hub - although it has good road and rail links to the capital and the north. I suspect that the committee will probably opt for expanding Gatwick if they're sensible and Heathrow if they're not (they have, according to the media and Boris's bluster yesterday morning, discounted entirely the prospect of building a whole new airport anywhere). Gatwick certainly has better links into London than Stansted, having a good rail link and being minutes from the M25 (at least, it is the way I drive!). Expanding Heathrow would probably mean knocking down too many voters homes. A new airport would apparently lead to Heathrow closing, which brings us back to angry voters keeping their homes but losing their jobs (many are not going or are able to uproot to Kent and/or Essex).

Frankly we need a new runway at Gatwick, at Heathrow AND Boris Island and then - for once - this country might actually be getting ahead of future demand rather than expensively and tediously always trying to add it long after it became desperately needed.
As if it wasn't bad enough with having to dash between terminals I can foresee that idea, if it were to bear fruit, ending up as having to change entire airports, the kak-handed way we seem to like to organise things in this country these days. Joy! The idea is to have our own one-stop hub, equivalent to Schiphol or CdG. That means expanding one airport or building a new airport and closing one or more of the existing London airports.

Besides, the OP asked "Any views?" I merely gave mine, for whatever they are worth. Which is probably the sum total of squat in the grand scheme of things. As a side-bar to the whole issue I can see an impracticable solution being adopted simply because the developer most likely to land the contract wielded sufficient influence/political advantage/promises of directorships/brown envelopes over the committee.
 
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Personal view, this is typical inward looking lack of long term vision; a golden opportunity has been missed. Presumably Heathrow will get one or two more runways and there will be more flights across London.

Any views?

Agreed wholeheartedly; Heathrow is creaking behind the scenes and is full to capacity. However, building one or two new runways will do nothing to resolve the infrastructure issues of the existing airport. Although the new Terminal 2 is now up-and-running, the old Terminal 1 will not be closed until Mar/Apr 2016 under HAL's existing plans and the last that I heard was that it would be cheaper for them to refurbish it than demolish it. Terminal 4 is also falling apart too and is in dire need of some serious investment. But Heathrow became a cash cow for Ferrovial and the fools in the City cheered on loudly from the sidelines. And the biggest airline operating at Heathrow has saddled itself with the basket case that is Iberia. Ultimately, both HAL and BA are playing a zero-sum game...
 
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NSP

LE
IMHO the only sensible option is to build as much as possible on south side of LHR and LGW, and maybe also at Stanstead - albeit Stanstead is not really suitable to supply the demand into London.
Agreed - would need major upgrades to the road and rail links. HS3 anyone...?
 

4(T)

LE
To me, the LHR "north-west" and "south-west" runway proposals seem eminently sensible. All of the transport infrastructure and workforce is already there, and the addition to the existing five terminals would significantly enhance the flexibility of the airport as a global hub.
 
Frankly we need a new runway at Gatwick, at Heathrow AND Boris Island and then - for once - this country might actually be getting ahead of future demand rather than expensively and tediously always trying to add it long after it became desperately needed.

Alistair Osborne in The Times disagrees with you:

Defeat in the skies

Do we actually need a hub airport? Sir Howard Davies's commission is grappling with that very issue now, so you hope he's seen a note from Credit Suisse. It shows that three Gulf carriers - Emirates, Etihad and Qatar - have more than 600 planes for delivery by 2027, can keep flying passengers on the Asia routes via their Gulf hubs at double-digit rates and will the European airlines' "hub and spoke" operations. By the time any runway is built, Heathrow will have long lost the battle for hub traffic to the east. A cheaper, second runway at Gatwick for point-to-point traffic looks more likely to fly.
 

4(T)

LE
Agreed wholeheartedly; Heathrow is creaking behind the scenes and is full to capacity. However, building one or two new runways will do nothing to resolve the infrastructure issues of the existing airport. Although the new Terminal 2 is now up-and-running, the old Terminal 1 will not be closed until Mar/Apr 2016 under HAL's existing plans ad the last that I heard was that it would be cheaper for them to refurbish it than demolish it. Terminal 4 is also falling apart too and is in dire need of some serious investment. But Heathrow became a cash cow for Ferrovial and the fools in the City cheered on loudly from the sidelines. And the biggest airline operating at Heathrow has saddled itself with the basket case that is Iberia. Ultimately, both HAL and Ba are playing a zero-sum game...


UK in general needs to get a grip of some long term vision, and start building infrastructure with bold projections for future expansion and growth. Possibly the infrastructure needs to be government owned and funded, in order to get around the private financial short-termism that seems to blight so many projects.

Other countries seem to build vast great airport terminals (often for demand they'll never see; e.g. Alicante), whereas UK seems to build shoddy cramped shopping malls instead...
 
Other countries seem to build vast great airport terminals (often for demand they'll never see; e.g. Alicante), whereas UK seems to build shoddy cramped shopping malls instead...

That is HAL's preferred operating model - a retail operation which subsidises the flying...
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
RIP
Boris perhaps thinks that his application to be the Conservative candidate for Uxbridge is helped by his opposition to Heathrow expansion.
 
I hate Gatwick! It's a pain to get to and the signage and general layout is awful. I prefer Heathrow to Gatwick, that tells your something! Never been to Luton, so don't anything about it.
 
Boris perhaps thinks that his application to be the Conservative candidate for Uxbridge is helped by his opposition to Heathrow expansion.

He might well be right - the original idea of building a shorter, third runway over the remains of Sipson and Harlington was electoral poison. Irrespective of the fact that both villages are dormitories for the airport, no one is going to vote to see their home demolished...
 

NSP

LE
Never been to Luton, so don't anything about it.
You're not missing anything!

Mind you, my local bus stop is now Bristol and the only improvement on that over Luton is that the place has windows!

Agree re: Thiefrow over Gatwick - especially given I have to get there from the south-west.
 
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