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Boris island' bid wins cash backing

PUBLISHED: 16:04 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:10 12 August 2010

THE MAYOR of London has received a boost to his campaign to build an airport island in the Thames Estuary as Arab countries offer to fund the controversial plan.  Boris Johnson has long advocated the construction of two artificial islands off Sheerness

THE MAYOR of London has received a boost to his campaign to build an airport 'island' in the Thames Estuary as Arab countries offer to fund the controversial plan.

Boris Johnson has long advocated the construction of two artificial islands off Sheerness as an alternative to the government's plan for a third runway at Heathrow airport. The mayor's office announced last Thursday that Gulf states such as Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have expressed an interest in bankrolling the £40 billion project.

But campaigners against the scheme, dubbed "Boris island", have expressed concern at the impact on bird life and noise pollution in north-west Kent.

Steve Dawe, spokesperson for the Kent Green Party, said: "The estuary airport idea of Boris Johnson has many practical problems. These include the London Array wind turbines. The 341 turbines proposed will be up to 175 metres high over an area of about 94.6 square miles.

"There are concerns about impacts on bird life, and the noise 'footprint' of circling aircraft over the whole of north-west Kent, from Dartford to Faversham.

"Climate emissions negotiations at Copenhagen in December could well include attempts to reduce emissions from aircraft. If aviation emissions are shared across households, then each UK household is making about one third of its carbon emissions by the flights its members take.

"Even more surprising, the UK is top for aviation emissions per adult, far ahead of the USA and other rich countries. Currently, each UK adult averages about 603kg of carbon emissions from aviation use per year while the US average is only 275 kg per adult per year.

"Domestic tourism and rail travel to the continent can substitute for flights, helping to boost UK tourism revenues. Kent Green Party wants Rochester, Manston and Lydd airports converted to other leisure uses to support domestic tourism, not international flights."

The mayor's deputy, Kit Malthouse, said that the Chinese are also showing an interest in contributing to the project.

He said that the proposed airport, which would dwarf the capacity of Heathrow, could be completed within 10 years.

Mr Malthouse added: "We have had an incredible amount of interest from countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, which have signalled they would like to fund the airport. It is possible we could build it without taxpayers' money.

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