Dear Sir
WE must all be used to Ray Fleming's political bias by now (everything about the Government- good; everything about the Opposition-bad) but I didn't realise that his many-sided expertise extended to major civil engineering works. In Viewpoint yesterday he stated that “Boris Johnson's idea for a completely new airport on an artificial island in the Thames Estuary airport is impractical and appallingly expensive.” As a (retired) Chartered Civil Engineer I would just like to ask him on what he bases these two condemnations. Does he perhaps know of the results of any comprehensive engineering feasibility study on any scheme for such an airport? If so, I'm sure Boris Johnson and many others would be interested to see it. If not, on what does he base his views?

I'm not aware, from my own technical knowledge and experience, of anything that would make such a scheme impractical. It'll be expensive and will take many years to build, yes. But the third runway and Terminal 6 for Heathrow will also be expensive and will also take many years to build. An estuary airport has several important advantages over Heathrow expansion. Here are just a few that I can think of. First, aircraft would land and take off over the sea so only very little noise pollution. Second, there would be no danger to local residents if an aircraft crashed shortly after take-off or shortly before landing. (Has Ray factored into his thinking the carnage that would result if anything like this happened at Heathrow; it very nearly did a few months ago and very nearly did at New York just a few hours ago). Third, an estuary airport could be very easily connected to the London to Channel Tunnel high-speed rail link. Fourth, road access to it would be very much less congested than that for Heathrow. Fifth, in the longer term all Heathrow operations could be moved to the new airport thus releasing approximately 12000 hectares of badly needed land for housing development.

In recent times Singapore has built a new airport on land reclaimed from the sea as has Hong-Kong so why not London?
Come on, Ray! Stick to matters you know something about and let the experts address others.

Bryan Oliver
B.Sc., C.Eng, MICE.

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