Doug Oakervee’s report into the estuary airport proposed by Boris Johnson’s Deputy Mayor For Policing, failed  airline tycoon Kit Malthouse, has apparently “been on (the Mayor’s) desk for some time,” according to this BBC report.

Why the reluctance to publish it? Such an enormous development would undoubtedly be environmentally devastating and the inevitable damage to the less-than-green Mayor’s reputation would not be welcome at a time when the UK is threatened with fines because of the poor air quality in London.

Why, though, has the Mayor of London commissioned a report in the first place, when the proposed site of the airport is outside the Mayor’s jurisdiction and he has no powers to build an airport, anyway? London taxpayers are footing the bill for Oakervee’s report and, incredibly, Boris Johnson is proceeding with further engineering and environmental assessments – at what cost to Londoners, who’ve just been stung by the biggest public transport fares rise since the GLA was created in 2000?

I’ve also been pondering the infrastructure and labour needs of an enormous airport development.

London Heathrow, which Boris Island is intended to replace:

  • Employs 68,000 staff. It is the largest single-site employer in the UK.
  • Heathrow employees are drawn from not only Greater London and the Home Counties, but as far away as Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire.
  • Heathrow is a massive retail centre. 31.2 million passengers flew from Heathrow in the first six months of 2009 and the net retail income per passenger for BAA was £5.08.
  • Heathrow is surrounded by industrial parks; the Yellow Pages reveal that there are 385 logistics companies within 5 miles of Heathrow. Last year Heathrow handled 1,395,054 tonnes of cargo.
  • Heathrow has its own dedicated Police Station, Fire Station, Air Ambulance, Animal Reception Centre, Immigration Removal Centre and Short-Term Holding Centre and many other associated services.
  • Several local hospitals have emergency plans in place in case of terrorist attack or other major disaster at Heathrow.

So, where would 70,000-odd staff live and  how would they get to work? Despite the fact that Heathrow has Underground and mainline rail links and both local and long-distance bus and coach links, many staff drive to work.

Where would all the logistics companies relocate and how would they transport millions of tonnes of cargo on existing road networks?

Who would pay for the construction of new buildings for use by emergency services and Customs and Excise, and would there be sufficient trained staff, vehicles, equipment and budgets available in Kent and Essex?

How would local health services cope in case of large-scale emergency?

In which part of the Deputy Mayor For Policing’s job description is “building airports”?

Don’t expect answers to any of these questions soon.

UPDATE: The Sunday Times claims that the report is to be published on 19 October.

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