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Enterprise partnership to study south-east airport capacity

Mon 23 January 2012, 9:00 pm

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which promotes business growth in Essex and Kent, has commissioned a study into airport capacity in the south-east of England.

The study has been commissioned because the LEP believes the region could lose business to other countries without an increase in airport capacity.

A report outlining plans for the study produced by the LEP last month stated that improving existing airports may prove a more efficient use of resources than building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

It said: "The new owners of London Gatwick have recently stated that a more efficient use of the infrastructure could increase passenger numbers by almost 11 million per annum before 2019.

"This leads to the question: could a more efficient use of existing infrastructure in the Greater South East as a whole lead to an increase in passenger numbers over the next decade without the need for increased runways?

"Alternatively, could it create enough breathing space for a discussion about the need for a hub airport, an agreed location for one and commencing the financing and construction of a hub airport?"

It added that proposals for a new Thames Estuary airport would cost in the region of £50 billion and would not be brought forward until existing airports had reached capacity.

The report said: "There is the potential to carry out a study that investigates the current collective capacity of the airports in the Greater South East and establish how they can be utilised more efficiently. 

"With the recent expansion at London Southend Airport and the successful Regional Growth Fund bid which will link Manston Airport to high speed rail access, additional capacity has the potential to be realised."

The LEP said that the study would be produced within the next three months.

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