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Unveiled: 40billion airport for London… in the middle of the ChannelBeckett Rankine unveiled the proposals for the four-runway airport todayIt would sit on a man-made island 1.8 miles off the coast of Kent
Four runways would sit separately and operate independentlyA high speed rail link direct to London would be builtThe plans pose 'no conservation or environmental risks'
20:26 GMT, 19 December 2012
Plans have been unveiled to create a new 39billion airport for London – in the middle of the Channel.
Engineers unveiled the proposals for a four runway airport, which would ease pressure on the South East's overburdened runways, on a man-made island 1.8 miles off the coast of Kent on underwater banks known as Goodwin Sands.
Construction firm Beckett Rankine are touting the site as the answer to London's need for a new hub airport.
Proposals: Engineers have unveiled ambitious plans to create this 39
billion airport for London – in the middle of the Channel
Modern: The plans feature a state-of-the-art terminal building and four runways
The plans feature a state-of-the-art terminal building and runways connected to London by a high-speed underground rail link.
The hazardous sands are said to the perfect location as there pose no environmental, economical or social risk.
The four runways will sit 1.5km apart so that they can operate independently and taking off and landing over water rather not an urban area will allow 24-hour flights.
No homes will have to be demolished and developers say there would be no concerns of damage to conservation or wildlife.
Beckett Rankine director Tim Beckett said the proposal was the most 'sustainable solution' yet to be put forward.
He said: '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.
Terminal: The airport blueprint is the latest option put forward that could solve the UK's aviation problems
'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.
'Creating a new airport for London presents a major regenerative opportunity.
'We believe that East Kent is an area that could benefit most from the boost of new jobs and economic uplift.
Links: The airport would have a high speed rail line direct to London
'The location of an airport offshore is an alternative that crowded island nation's 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.'
It is not the first time that developers have mooted plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary, with other proposals including designs for a runway at the Isle of Grain.
But the latest developers say that other sites have 'significant disadvantages' compared to their project.
Options: Boris Johnson's preferred choice is 'London Britannia Airport'
but he may also consider Stansted expansion and now a third option in
Mr Beckett added: '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 proposed site is within UK territorial waters and would be owned by the Crown Estate.
Passengers from the airport could be in London within 40 minutes thanks to the rail link which would connect up with the current HS1 line, with further connections to Europe planned via Eurostar.
Two major roads, the A2 and M20, lead to the site.
Although London Mayor Boris Johnson has already openly backed a bid for the 'London Britannia Airport' – Norman Foster's designs for an island airport also in the Thames Estuary – his advisor Daniel Moylan said he had been encouraged by the new designs.
He said: 'The Mayor has been encouraging proposals for a new airport to the east of London.
'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.'
Plans for Norman Foster's airport on an island in the Thames were unveiled in September this year and include four floating runways tethered to the river bed.
Vision: This is what Stansted Airport could look like it it was turned into a four-runway superhub
Plans: How Stansted would look on the map if it was extended
Plans to extend Britain's busiest airport Heathrow were put forward in the same month as part of the government's review into airport expansion in the South East.
Earlier this week Boris Johnson put the idea of expanding Stansted back on the table as a way of solving the UK's aviation headache as he fights tooth and nail to block the Heathrow expansion.
Though London Britannia is undoubtedly his current first choice, it is understood he will now order a 3million detailed feasibility study to consider if 'compromise option' Stansted could cope if transformed.
A high speed rail link would also be built cutting journey time to London from the Essex site to just 25 minutes.
Proposed location: The airport will be built 1.8miles off the coast of Kent on underwater banks known as Goodwin Sands
Plans: Lord Foster's 50billion design for Boris Island that would sit in the Thames estuary and handle 150 million passengers a year
If suitable, Stansted's growth could be put at the heart of the Conservative's 2015 general election manifesto as a fall-back from Boris Island and building a third runway at Heathrow.
But it will still be highly controversial as proposals for a second runway there have already led to years of protests from people living under its flighpath.
Stansted has been targeted by many protests including one where more than 50 people burst onto its runway and shut it down for more than five hours.
Transport experts fear Britain could miss out on crucial revenue from tourists and flight taxes if major carriers move their European base to rivals on the continent.