Is Boris really happy to destroy one of the most important bird habitats in Britain?

The Mayor's pet plan risks destroying an important wildlife habitat.

Boris Johnsonj

The Mayor’s pet plan risks destroying an important wildlife habitat

The Mayor of London has declared that the new research on his plans for a Boris Island airport contains ‘no show stoppers’ and he regards the reports as ‘hugely encouraging’.

If he really believes this, he must be happy to destroy one of the most valuable and internationally important bird habitats in Britain.

There have been two major reports in the last week which have highlighted the potentially disastrous impact on birds of building an airport in the Thames Estuary. The Davies Commission, which is looking at the issue of aviation expansion for the government, received a consultant’s report by Jacobs, which was blunt: “all the [Estuary] airport options proposed would result in a large scale direct habitat loss”.

Protected species like sandwich terns, nightingales and marsh harriers breed in the Thames Estuary and the Mayor of London wants to build the biggest Airport in Europe over where they nest, eat and raise chicks. The Jacobs report explains that it: “forms a vital staging post and wintering site for a large number of migratory waterfowl”.

It’s not just the airport itself; all the roads, railway lines and other infrastructure to service it would cause further damage.

The Mayor believes that he can cater for the needs of the birds and anyway, you have to balance that against the “needs of 8 million people living in a fast growing city”. Boris presents the argument as an either or, but I don’t agree that we need to trash our wildlife and increase the likelihood of runaway climate change in a vain attempt to secure our future prosperity.

The Thames Estuary is recognised as being internationally important and there are European rules safeguarding it.

I realise that the rules might be side-stepped if you have the money to mitigate the consequences of any development, with the taxpayer, rather than the industry, footing the bill. The report says it could cost an ‘unprecedented’ £2 billion to compensate for the loss of the bird’s breeding grounds.

The cost alone should be a show stopper, but the Mayor’s chief adviser, Daniel Moylan, is staying optimistic and says they can somehow mitigate the impacts by only spending half a billion pounds.

Jacobs also found that it would be “impossible to create this scale of new habitats in the immediate vicinity of the site”. The British Trust for Ornithology, in a separate report, point out the difficulties of finding a suitable new habitat which has to be two times the size of Disneyland Paris.

Hundreds of thousands of hungry feathered creatures descend on this corner of Britain, and idea of them mixing with hundreds of jets every day is not a good combination. Bird strike was recently blamed for bringing down a helicopter in Norfolk, but the Mayor insists on pressing ahead with the idea of flying planes in and out of one of the biggest outdoor restaurants for bird life in Europe.

The Mayor should stop spending millions of pounds researching and promoting his pet plan for a mega airport and put his energies into tackling the real threats to our future prosperity – climate change and inequality.

8 Responses to “Is Boris really happy to destroy one of the most important bird habitats in Britain?”

  1. swatnan

    Any chance of the Severn Bore being discussed, sensibly; the energy would be enough to keep Wales going for years, and could even lead to its Independence, just like Scotland’s Oil and Hydro.

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    We do need more airport capacity, or we’ll lose real growth.

    But, yes, strangely enough it’s the existing airport sites which (gasp) are good locations for airports. Hmm!

  3. neiallswheel

    What of estuary FOG ?
    Poor travel links ? Any ideas for a fleet of water taxis would be scrapped due to the SS MONTGOMERY and infact the entire airport should be scrapped on this one issue alone.
    Its a barrage of Boris propaganda, with planes still landing with empty seats to Gatwick and Heathrow the requirement for more capacity is consistent bad management and industry hype.

  4. remarx

    Ignore such wholesale destruction of the ecological infrastructure at your peril Boris. How many times have we seen nature strike back against such crass intrusions. Humankind must develop a group conscience about natural destruction, we must learn to live alongside our environment, not destroy it in the name of Mammon.

    If we continue to act as an arrogant and thoughtless desecrater, then it is quite possible that ‘more airport capacity’ will become a moot point.

    Anyway, why not try harder to expand the existing sites? In the long run, It may well be cheaper, perhaps quicker and certainly less destructive than the Thames estuary white elephant. Or is that plan not big enough for your ego?

  5. Guest

    So above-average seat filling is bad. Who knew?

    The reality is you’re saying “Britain must lose out”.

  6. swatnan

    Actually its quicker and more comfortable by train door to door. Take Edinburgh to London, by the time you’ve totted up the securit wait and checks, you’ve saved all those air miles and cc’s of pollution and stress on your nervous system. You can just hop on and off the train.

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    …It’s not about the domestic market.

  8. neiallswheel

    @guest”” Lose out””
    HELLO read comment, capacity is a NON argument, when empty seats are still a percentage of current airline flights. The industry misuse this ‘we need growth’ mantra to help disguise their current mismanagement problems,
    Noise and air pollution will only get worse.

    Electric aircraft?? Would be Quiet and non polluting so
    Build these first

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