Boris was on a 400 foot dredger yesterday, sailing up and down the Thames Estuary to find somewhere to stick an airport.
What a pillock!
He just doesn't get it does he? There is a simple one-word reason why an airport in the Thames Estuary is a complete non-starter:
More specifically, over 200,000 wild fowl and wading birds which overwinter in the estuary, plus thousands which visit there while migrating.
A report by the Central Science Laboratory stated:
It is difficult to envisage a more problematic site anywhere in the world.
Perhaps Boris should read this article from his own newspaper, the Telegraph:
One recent headline – London estuary airport best for environment, says Johnson – suggests he has a double problem: memory loss and a lack of news cuttings, not only from the 1960s and 70s, but from as recently as six years ago.
Had this not been apparently the case, he would have been well aware of the outcome of past proposals for Thames mouth flight terminals. One reason they failed was the environmental damage they would cause.
There were other considerations – notably danger of aircraft colliding with flocks of birds. As opposition mounted in 2002 to plans to build an £11.5 billion airport on Kent's wildlife-rich Cliffe Marshes, conservation hopes were boosted by a Central Science Laboratory report.
It notes that 200,000 wildfowl and wading birds overwinter in the Thames estuary, plus thousands on migration – and the obvious way to protect aircraft would be by not developing there.
As the report put it: "It is difficult to envisage a more problematic site anywhere in the world."
Something else the London Mayor has not mentioned while enthusing over his idea for a man-made island for international air traffic is that the whole area is covered by the EU-backed Thames Estuary and Marshes Special Protection Area.
That means extra economic drawbacks and other headaches highlighted during the Cliffe controversy by Sir Martin Doughty, chairman of the what was then called English Nature.
He said: "Under European law, new land would have to be set aside for the migratory birds affected. The cost of this task would be huge and there simply may not be enough land available in the southeast to achieve it."
Proposals for the Cliff Marshes airport were in due course dropped – just as the case for a Third London Airport on the brent goose-haunted Maplin Sands, Essex, didn't survive the vigorous opposition 30 years earlier.
Mr Johnson's argument on the lines of "if Hong Kong can do it, why not London" has a big flaw. In the Far East, internationally important environments have been destroyed by major engineering projects repeatedly, with scant regard for the views of conservationists. Here the approach is very different.
He can be sure of a battle with the country's leading conservation bodies, which are ready to go for a "hat trick" of victories. It has already started following the recent launch of Waterbirds in the UK 2006/2007, a report stressing the international importance of UK wetlands to 43 wetland bird species.
The report stems from a continuous study which has its roots in the Third London Airport row that began in the late 1960s. It rates the Thames Estuary in the UK's top five out of 143 sites nationwide due to the high number of waterbirds found there during winter or migration periods.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has been quick to point out that "this is further confirmation that the idea of an international airport anywhere in the Thames Estuary is a complete non-starter."
Chris Corrigan, RSPB South East's regional director, prominent in the campaign that helped kill the Cliffe Marshes project, said: "If ever Boris needed proof of the environmental cost involved in building a Thames Estuary airport, this report – which actually came about in response to a past airport proposal – is it.
"For years we have been pointing to the estuary's importance for countless species and here, in black and white yet again, is proof of just how remarkable the area really is for wildlife.
"The nearby Swale and Medway Estuaries, similarly recognised by this report for their international importance, will also lose out if an airport went ahead. If Boris thinks building an airport anywhere in this area is viable, this report shows he needs to think again."