Category Archives: estuary airport

VIDEO: Protecting our Hoo Peninsula

In this short video, Mark Reckless, UKIP’s Parliamentary candidate for Rochester and Strood, talks about his commitment to protecting our beautiful Hoo Peninsula, a place very close to his heart and to the hearts and minds of those who live in the area.

Mark led our campaign to defeat Boris and his proposed estuary airport. Now that David Cameron has said he plans to stand down with Boris likely to take over, the Hoo peninsula is not safe with the Conservatives. Mark has also forced a Public Inquiry into their plans to build 5,000 houses in a bird sanctuary at Lodge Hill. Every Conservative on the Planning Committee, including from Rochester and Strood, voted for that at Lodge Hill. The Council’s cabinet, in which Mark’s Conservative opponent sits, is now spending your money on lawyers to defend its Lodge Hill plan.

On 7th May, vote for Mark Reckless as the only candidate with a track record of defending and protecting our Hoo Peninsula.

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REVEALED: Vote Tory, Get Boris

Boris Graphic

Only Mark Reckless can stop Boris Johnson destroying our Hoo Peninsula.

Mark led the campaign against Boris Island, and won!

If, as expected, Boris is soon Tory leader a Tory MP here would be whipped to back his airport.

Mark Reckless has a track record of beating Boris.

Nigel Farage has agreed with Mark that UKIP will block Boris as PM unless he drops his airport plan.

On 7th May, vote UKIP to save our Peninsula.

Sign Here To Say No To Boris and his Bonkers Airport!

We Win! Estuary Airport ruled out by Airports Commission

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After several years of uncertainty and blight caused by the pie in the sky proposals to build an airport on the Isle of Grain, I am delighted that the Airports Commission has finally ruled out an airport in the Thames Estuary. The news that the Commission has found that the proposals for a new airport in the Inner Thames Estuary has substantial disadvantages and is not a credible option will, I’m sure, be welcomed by the majority of my constituents.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your contributions and the support which, I believe, has added weight to both the work which I have done locally and in Parliament, and to the wider No Estuary Airport campaign. The Airports Commission reported receiving hundreds of submissions to their consultations from Rochester and Strood residents, and in my Estuary Airport ballot 92.6% of constituents said that they did not support these pie in the sky proposals.

Throughout this process I have sponsored and participated in a number of activities to highlight the negative impact which a Thames Estuary Airport would have on our region. I have continuously contributed to the Airports Commission’s consultations and invited them to several important seminars which I hosted in Parliament with aviation, economic and environmental experts. These efforts resulted in the Airports Commission recognising a number of my arguments in their feasibility studies, such as the cost of a Thames Estuary Airport at £148 billion and that landing charges could be around 2.5 to 3 times higher than at Heathrow.

Much of the work which I and others have done began over a decade ago when we campaigned against an airport at Cliffe. I believe that we finally have a decision so conclusive that surely even the Mayor of London cannot overrule it, leaving our residents safe to enjoy the diverse landscape and habitats of the Hoo Peninsula.

My thanks again for the support and input which you and many others have provided throughout this campaign.

MP responds to Airports Commission

Mark Reckless with representatives of Medway Council at the Thames Estuary Airport costs summit in Westminster

Mark Reckless with representatives of Medway Council at the Thames Estuary Airport costs summit in Westminster

Airports Commission
Sanctuary Buildings
20 Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT

23rd May 2014

Dear Sir/Madam

I refer back to my previous submissions, and again emphasis that land in and around the Thames Estuary, particularly to the North side of the Hoo Peninsula, is strongly protected by UK and EU law and UN conventions. Since you have already determined that there are three other options which are credible and merit further detailed consideration, building at the Thames Estuary site would be unlawful as a precondition for this is that there should be alternative.

Building an airport in the Thames Estuary is also likely to be financially unfeasible due to the phenomenal and extraordinarily uncertain costs involved in the construction of a new airport in the Thames Airport.

Such an enormous infrastructure project could not realistically be privately financed. Construction of a new airport, as opposed to the expansion of existing infrastructure at Heathrow or Gatwick, cannot offer any predictable return on investment. Any private financing for a Thames Estuary Airport would have primarily to come from banks and debt capital markets, yet the asset against which funds would be secured would remain speculative for well over a decade before the airport was functioning and earning any revenue to begin to service its debt financing.

It is clear that providing finance for the Thames Estuary Airport through the sale and redevelopment of Heathrow is not a tenable method of funding the project. The sequencing involved in building an Estuary Airport is such that money could not be extracted from Heathrow until after the site is closed, and the airport could not close until the Thames Estuary Airport is fully operational. Planning for financing which will not be available for perhaps 20-30 years is an unworkable model. It is also notable that in Hong Kong the closed airport still remains undeveloped.

WP_20140516_016Even if there were any prospect of a contribution from private funding, all parties agree that the project would require a very substantial public subsidy, previously as a figure in the region of £65Bn on the basis of the Commission’s £82-112 billion overall estimate. The costs seminar involving city analysts and industry experts which I chaired at Westminster on 16 May 2014 reached an overall estimate of approximately £148 billion, implying public subsidy of over £100 billion given the estimates of maximum private financing capacity to which the Commission has referred.

Aside from the almost certainly insuperable difficulties that this figure would present to the exchequer, the taxpayer, and the political process, a subsidy of this magnitude would constitute an unprecedented instance and scale of State Aid. This would at a minimum require lengthy consideration by the EU Commission before construction of the airport could begin, and money spent to design and prepare for that could be wasted if spent in advance.

If State Aid is found to distort competition in a way which is harmful to citizens and companies in the EU, then the State Aid would likely be found to be illegal. Again, because of the need to show such aid to be ‘necessary’, the exception hurdle is likely to be insurmountable since the Commission has already identified three other options as credible alternatives.Further, the Mayor of London in promoting this project, has done so on the basis that he believes such a state-backed project would be for the UK to prevail in competition with hub airports based in Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Schipol in particular would have a great incentive to invest very significant resources in legal and political efforts to prevent such a state-back Thames Estuary Airport.

In order to make a return on the investment in a Thames Estuary Airport, the landing charges levied would need to be at least around 2.5 to 3 times those charged at Heathrow. I had previously estimated that a Thames Estuary Airport would add an additional £50 to the price of each plane ticket and others have estimated a total per person charge of £70 being required. As Heathrow’s landing charges are already some of the most expensive in the world, such charges would make a Thames Estuary Airport highly uncompetitive, whether contrasted with European hubs or airports in the Gulf States. This combined with the destruction or international flight of business based around proximity of Heathrow would both undermine the UK’s hub aviation and greatly harm the UK economy.

Yours faithfully

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Mark Reckless MP
Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood

Mark Reckless urges residents to respond to Thames Estuary airport consultation

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Mark Reckless MP with residents and Parish Councillors in Grain

In a letter being sent out to thousands of residents in the Rochester and Strood constituency, Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, is urging as many people as possible to respond to the Airports Commission further consultation, which closes on 23rd May 2014, on proposals for an airport to be built in the Thames Estuary.

In his letter, Mark Reckless states:

I am writing with further details of the study which the Airports Commission is currently undertaking regarding the feasibility (or otherwise!) of building an airport in the ‘Inner Thames Estuary’ on or near the Isle of Grain.

In its Interim Report published on 17th December the Commission, led by Howard Davies, said that proposals put forward by the Mayor of London and others had not been shown to be credible and were not short-listed to be taken forward. It instead short-listed a second runway at Gatwick and two options for a third runway at Heathrow. However, we must still deal with a further ‘study’ regarding the Isle of Grain.

The study includes a consultation, which closes on 23 May 2014, and calls for evidence and views to inform the Commission’s study in four main areas: environmental impacts; operational feasibility and the attitude of the airline industry; socio-economic impacts; and surface access impacts. If you would like to read the relevant section of the Interim Report you can find it at http://goo.gl/ARSDkW on pages 179-187.

I would encourage you to contact the Commission with any comments you have on a Thames Estuary Airport. Their email address is estuary.studies@airports.gsi.gov.uk and you may also copy to me at mark.reckless.mp@parliament.uk. Points which I am making include:

  • Building an airport here would devastate key nature and environmental reserves that are protected under British and international law, making this illegal if there is any alternative, and the Commission has already short-listed three alternatives as credible.
  • There are large potential risks of flood and bird strike at the proposed Isle of Grain site, which is on a coastal flood plain and estuary, and people do not want to be ‘regenerated’ if they chose to live where it is peaceful and away from noise.
  • An Isle of Grain airport would cost £82-112billion, more than five times the cost of the Gatwick and Heathrow options shortlisted, twice the cost of HS2, and enough to add £50 to every plane ticket, hurting the poor and damaging the whole UK economy.

I have said I will do everything in my power to stop a Thames Estuary Airport and hope we can together use this study to get it ruled out once and for all. Thank you.

 

VIDEO: A level of improper political interference?

Mark Reckless MP speaks to ITV Meridian News about the Airports Commission’s Interim Report and questions whether there has been a level of ‘political interference’ in the Commission’s decision to investigate further the feasibility of a site on the Isle of Grain.

Response to Airports Commission Interim Report

WP_20130930_003As you may well be aware, the Airports Commission has just issued its Interim Report which shortlists options for additional UK airport capacity.

The Airports Commission has shortlisted two proposals to expand Heathrow and one proposal to expand Gatwick. Regarding a Thames Estuary Airport the Report states:

The Commission has not shortlisted any of the Thames Estuary options because there are too many uncertainties and challenges surrounding them at this stage. It will undertake further study of the Isle of Grain option in the first half of 2014 and will reach a view later next year on whether that option offers a credible proposal for consideration alongside the other short-listed options.

I welcome the fact that a Thames Estuary Airport has not been shortlisted, but I am concerned that the Commission’s study of a Grain option next year will cause further unnecessary blight and worry for local residents.

I am also concerned that improper political pressure from London’s Mayor or from within government on an independent commission may have led to “further study” of a Grain option, rather than it being ruled out in the Interim Report, as I believe it should have been. I will be asking further questions to clarify how this decision was made.

Although a study on the feasibility of a Grain option will be undertaken next year, I believe that further examination by the Airports Commission will further highlight how unworkable this pie in the sky proposal is, and that it will be rejected. In particular, I note that Howard Davies has said that this proposal cannot be taken forward under environmental legislation if there are other plausible options, and that it would cost an almost unimaginably large amount, £82-112 billion, more than five times the cost of the three options shortlisted.

I will do everything in my power to get a Thames Estuary airport ruled out once and for all and will consult local residents in the New Year about how best to do this. I would like to thank you for the support which you have given so far, and ask you not to worry, as together we will defeat these proposals.