Kent sandbanks could be the location for new hub airport

Sandbanks off the Kent coast have been identified as a potential site for a new hub airport.

The proposal to build on Goodwin Sands, 1.8 miles off the east coast of Kent, comes from London-based maritime engineers Beckett Rankine.

Tim Beckett, director, said in a statement: ‘We believe that an offshore hub airport is the only option that can realistically provide the four new, independent runways that research reveals London needs.

‘If the Davies Commission endorses the long-term requirement for a new, four-runway hub airport for London, then locating it at Goodwin will have the least adverse social and environmental impact of any option. It is certainly the most sustainable solution available.’

Daniel Moylan, the Mayor of London’s aviation adviser, said: ‘The Mayor has been encouraging proposals for a new airport to the east of London and this proposal is welcome as a contribution to a critical national debate and as a demonstration that a new airport is feasible and deliverable.

‘The arguments for the construction of a new hub airport in the UK are overwhelming and this proposal offers one option of how to build it. We now urgently need to recognise that a new hub airport is the answer to our aviation capacity problems and press ahead with considering the best way to deliver that airport.’

Beckett added: ‘The location of an airport offshore is an alternative that crowded island nations are turning to across the globe. It is the solution recently adopted at South Korea’s new Incheon Airport and at Kansai Airport in Japan and in Hong Kong.

‘Since the 1970s there have been several proposals for locating a new airport in the Thames Estuary. These include proposals for Cliffe and Lord Foster’s plans at the Isle of Grain.

‘All the sites within the estuary have significant disadvantages. Each proposal is located in at least one internationally designated, environmentally sensitive area. All the sites either interfere with shipping lanes or else are too small to provide four runways sufficiently spaced for independent operation.

‘The land-connected sites do not provide take-off and landing over water, which ought to be the principal benefit of a new offshore airport since it enables 24-hour operations, maximising utilisation of the airport. Goodwin Airport has none of these disadvantages.’

Although ‘Boris Island’, London mayor Boris Johnson’s proposed airport in the Thames Estuary, was scoffed at by critics, it reflects a growing trend of aiming to build on seas and oceans. Click here to read more.

Proposed advantages for the Goodwin Sands site

  • The site provides space for four runways 1.5km apart, enabling independent runway operation to maximise capacity.
  • The Goodwin Sands location offers excellent transport links with a 40-minute high-speed rail connection to London via the existing HS1 line. Road access is via the A2 and M20. There will be Eurostar connections to Europe.
  • The site is within UK territorial waters and owned by the Crown Estate.
  • Unlike the other solutions connected to the land, this alternative will allow take-off and landing over water, enabling unrestricted 24-hour operations.
  • This site will not impact on any protected environment or interfere with any shipping lanes.
  • The site is not a bird-breeding area.
  • The development will not require the demolition of homes or displacement of residents.
  • Siting the airport on the Goodwin Sands will avoid the need to demolish recently built wind farms.

Source: Beckett Rankine