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Boris Island, new airport for London, the debate starts

Boris Island opponents come out swinging.
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The "Boris" of Boris Island fame, London's Mayor Boris Johnson, who advocates building a new airport for the British capital east of the city in the Thames estuary (CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

Plans for a new London airport in the Thames Estuary, dubbed Boris Island, after London's mayor Boris Johnson, an advocate of the plan, have run into opposition already.

Yesterday, the British government announced a formal consultation on building a new airport for London. Included among the ideas to be considered is the one advocated by Johnson for building an island in the Thames estuary east of the city and placing the airport there. The formal consultation is the first stage in the legislative process that would ultimately authorize the airport.

This has brought opponents out swinging. These include the British Airports Authority, BAA, the private company that runs Heathrow, and British Airways, which is headquartered at Heathrow, and has only recently opened a £4.2 billion ($6.5 billion) state of the art terminal there.

BA's chief executive Willie Walsh told the Daily Telegraph, "The only way you'd make it (Boris Island) financially successful is say you're going to build it and, as part of that, you're going to close Heathrow. If you leave Heathrow open and you build this new airport, we're going to stay at Heathrow."

For me there is something of deja vu all over again about this. 40 years ago, when I was a student doing a year abroad at a British university, they were talking about building an airport in the Thames estuary. Clearly, if you live long enough you don't just see double, you experience everything twice.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/europa/boris-island-new-airport-london-the-debate-starts