London Mayor Boris Johnson appoints airport experts

Boris Johnson says the government has set a timetable that "dawdles"

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London's mayor has announced he has appointed "a mighty team of experts" to help develop his hub airport plans.

Boris Johnson opposes a third runway at Heathrow and supports the idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary or the expansion at Stansted.

He said: "The government has set a timetable that dawdles when dash should be the order of the day."

The Whitehall-appointed Davies Commission on aviation is not due to make its final report until 2015.

The Department for Transport is yet to respond to Mr Johnson's latest comments.

Mr Johnson said: "It is absolutely imperative that work to progress a new hub airport in the South East is completed as soon as possible.

"That is why I have assembled a mighty team of experts who I have tasked with delivering a fulsome examination of the most realistic solutions to our aviation crisis in the shortest time possible, which I look forward to sharing with the government."

The mayor's airport team will include design, engineering and project management consultants Atkins.

Architects Pascall & Watson, whose previous projects include Heathrow Terminal 5, Dublin Airport Terminal 2 and St Pancras International rail station, will also take part.

'Fantasy airports'

About 15 different proposals for a new hub airport in south east England have already been made public.

Mr Johnson has consulted on criteria that will be used to evaluate each proposal and to form a shortlist.

That shortlist is expected to be announced within weeks and the team now assembled by the mayor will combine their expertise to produce detailed feasibility studies that he will submit to the Davies Commission.

Speaking to the Transport Select Committee, the mayor said: "Personally I think that agenda could be accelerated and and it would be possible by early next year to come to a pretty clear view about what the right way forward is but we're content to be as useful as we can for the time being.

"I think the parties could get together and agree a way forward and we intend to be as useful as we can in helping that to happen."

Ed Mitchell, the Environment Agency's environment and business director, told the committee that habitat protection requirements would be "quite a stiff challenge" and there could be flood risks.

He said his gut instinct was that it was "possible although not easy and not cheap" that solutions to problems posed by an estuary airport could be found.

London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones said: "Instead of squandering taxpayers' money on developing fantasy airports that will inevitably lead to massive carbon emissions, he should be prioritising climate mitigation and adaptation projects."

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