The jumbo in the room


Wannabe tycoons are pinging spread sheets between their BlackBerrys of plans to convert the Thames Estuary into a giant airport to replace Heathrow. Their £30 billion ‘offshore’ Jumbo park is being considered by the Government who want a plan in place before a campaign against the development is launched.

The latest scheme would see North Kent disappear under concrete, steel and glass as an archipeligo of roads, railway tracks, tunnels, stations, car parks, and shopping centres creep across the marsh, creek, and shoal in a crazy paving of growth to serve the aeroplane parking lots to be built on the Kentish Flats: presumably the 30 wind turbines already occupying these tidal shallows would be felled…an irony which will not be overlooked by the renewables lobby.

Developers behind the Heathrow-on-Sea project are already citing ‘terrorism’ as a major reason the airport should be built: that ‘Harrods or Oxford Street’ could be the target of a ‘flying bomb’ because Heathrow’s flights track across the city. They are sending those who object, computerised re-runs of the World Trade Centre falling down as the result of Mohammad Atta’s 9/11 Kamikaze attack.

They have not mentioned that should this airport go ahead it will be adjacent to the Isle of Grain power station – which has a 750 ft high chimney, a methane gas storage terminal on Canvey Island, a zoned-off World War II shipwreck filled with unexploded munitions at Sheerness, and Kingsnorth Power Station on the River Medway. Just 18 miles north – not far in Jumbo flying time – is a nuclear power station at Bradwell.

In my opinion air travel is something we should be containing not encouraging to expand. The Thames Estuary is a wonderful safety valve of wilderness on the doorstep of one of the most heavily populated areas on earth. At the moment tens of thousands people can enjoy it without getting on an aeroplane to get to it.

Perhaps, at least, if Heathrow is moved the area it once occupied in West London could be landscaped and turned into woodland, heathland and park? No, it is to be re-developed as a giant housing estate. Aerosols will replace aeroplanes.