South East MP clash over Thames Estuary airport plans
Proposals to build an airport in the Thames Estuary airport were called both "preposterous" and essential in a debate between two South East MPs.
Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless said plans for an estuary airport were outdated during a parliamentary debate on UK aviation.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson favours the idea of an airport on an artificial islnd, known as "Boris Island".
His brother, Orpington MP Jo Johnson, said the extra capacity was essential.
During the debate about the future of aviation in the UK, Mr Reckless said: "I think there's a very strong case for Gatwick. I think many regional airports can help with the load.
End Quote Jo Johnson
I'm a bit depressed by the combination of nimbyism and sticking-plaster solutions that he's putting forward”
"I think this debate we've been having about aviation has been horribly distorted by preposterous, I'm afraid, efforts by the Mayor of London to put the Thames Estuary airport on the agenda 10 years after it was categorically ruled out."'Without direct connections'
In 2002, a new airport at Cliffe on the Hoo peninsula was one of several options being considered by the Labour government for airport expansion in the South East.
However, in December 2003, it decided to leave Cliffe out of its airport expansion plans.
Jo Johnson replied: "I'm a bit depressed by the combination of nimbyism and sticking-plaster solutions that he's putting forward.
"Is he not aware that the UK remains without any direct connections at all to 11 cities in mainland China that are expected to be among the 25 biggest cities in the world by 2025 and that only a hub airport can deliver that sort of connectivity?"
Two plans have been put forward for Thames estuary airports - one on an artificial island, known as "Boris Island", and another on the Isle of Grain proposed by architect Norman Foster.
On Sunday, a report, commissioned by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said an estuary airport would be too expensive and would take too long.
It recommended expanding other airports such as Gatwick and Heathrow to meet increasing air travel demands.
Birmingham Airport recently urged the government to do more to promote regional airports across the country rather than a hub airport in the South East.
The government will begin a consultation later this summer on a document setting out aviation strategy.