13/11/2012 09:58 GMT | Updated 13/11/2012 10:04 GMT

Boris Johnson Makes Case For 'Boris Island' Airport, Restates Opposition To Third Runway

London mayor Boris Johnson took his case for a "Boris Island" Thames estuary airport scheme on Tuesday to the man charged with reviewing government aviation capacity policy.

Johnson also stated his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow as he met former Financial Services Authority chairman Sir Howard Davies.


Johnson's meeting was described as 'friendly, businesslike and productive'

Sir Howard heads a government-appointed commission which will make recommendations about future airport capacity needs.

His meeting with Johnson comes a day ahead of the publication of a report by Heathrow airport bosses on the need for the UK to maintain a major hub airport.

Sir Howard's team will present an interim report to the government by the end of next year, with a full report due in summer 2015 - after the next general election.

Johnson has already criticised the commission's timescale and expressed his concern about "the lengthy three-year timeframe" at today's meeting, saying a delay was not conducive to an expedited solution to the growing crisis around a lack of aviation capacity in the UK.

Johnson's official spokesman described the hour-long meeting as "friendly, businesslike and productive".

Johnson said the Davies Commission had the opportunity to set a new course for the country's aviation policy and "thereby correct a catastrophic planning error of the past that was now holding the economy back".

The spokesman said Mr Johnson and Sir Howard agreed that examination of a range of options for expansion had to be based on "evidence-gathering that would lead to a level playing field" for all the serious options being proposed - including a four-runway hub in or around the Thames Estuary or at Stansted.

Johnson said: "I look forward to staying in close touch with Sir Howard and to contributing to his work.

"It's important that the commission takes a wide view of the economic benefits of aviation, including the stimulus it can give to a local area, to tourism and to the creative industries in which Britain excels. I will be working to ensure the Commission is provided with the evidence to do just that."

On Wednesday Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews will launch a report entitled One Hub Or None.

At present, Heathrow is the UK's major hub airport and the need for a major hub forms part of the work of the Davies Commission, which will be sent the Heathrow report.

The aviation policy debate is set to be a fierce one, and is likely to run and run.

The so-called "Boris Island" scheme gained little support from MPs in a poll earlier this week.

Of the 93 MPs surveyed, 46% supported expansion at Heathrow, with only 16% backing the estuary plan.

Sir Howard's team's initial report will focus on what can be done to cope with aviation demand in the immediate future.

The all-party 2M Group, which represents more than 20 local councils close to Heathrow, has said it will be telling the Davies Commission that loosening restrictions on Heathrow's existing runways would destroy the quality of life for flightpath communities on all sides of the west London airport.

The group wants a guarantee that "runway alternation" and night-flight restrictions will not be sacrificed so the airport can handle more planes.

The campaign group says that allowing both runways to be used in tandem for arrivals and departures - a system called "mixed mode" - would be just as damaging as creating a third and fourth landing strip.