HEATHROW – “I chaired the meeting. The money was there for a new London airport” – Syed Kamall, MEP for London.
– BEGINS –
“London could have had a new airport for the future, rather than this expensive stopgap solution”. That’s the message from Syed Kamall, MEP for London following today’s announcement on the expansion of Heathrow.
“Last year, I gathered together people from Fosters & Partners (1) with sovereign wealth funds representing over a trillion dollars between them as part of my campaign to become London Mayor and they told me that if the government gave the go ahead, London would get a new airport, probably somewhere on the Thames estuary,” says Dr Kamall.
“They told me that the UK was a reliable investment, a global hub of trade and commerce, and from their point of view, a safe bet.”
Dr Kamall sees today’s announcement as nothing more than delaying the inevitable need for a new airport. “Heathrow expansion is merely sticking plaster and won’t solve the long term demand for airport capacity. If Britain is to thrive, we need to be sending out a bold message to the world that we are a forward thinking nation, looking to the future, not a place where we just stick a plaster over the cracks.”
“Heathrow is going to reach capacity again within a few years. The DFT’s own figures show 50% more people will travel through UK airports by 2030 (2) so if we expand Heathrow with 1 runway or 2, where do we build after that? Do we bulldoze Windsor or Southall or go south? Who will pay for the adjustments to the M25 and local infrastructure? And, then there are the obvious safety concerns of large airliners flying over London too. It doesn`t take a scientist to work out that noise and pollution will inevitably increase over large parts of London, despite improvements in both.”
“If there was no alternative then I could understand but there IS an alternative. Why waste money now on a stopgap when we could be building for the future”.
Asked whether, if he had gained government support for an estuary airport, whether it would have ever been built, Dr Kamall responded, “Of course it would have taken many more meetings but I suspect it would have taken much less time than the decades of public enquiries we have had to endure in order to come to today’s announcement. Our economy needs a new airport for the future. We must lead the world. We have a solution but this announcement is ignoring it.”
MP’s will now be given a free vote over the issue in November.
– ENDS –
Interview availability:- Dr Kamall is available at various times throughout the day for interview by phone. He is currently in Strasbourg in his role as Chairman of the third largest group in the European Parliament.
Please contact: Richard Midson 07961 333 022 for more.
(1) There have been a number of different options discussed for a new London airport. Fosters, the firm set up by Sir Norman Foster, who has created a number of iconic London developments, produced plans for an airport in the Thames estuary.