As London’s main international airport at Heathrow nears full capacity, momentum is growing in the U.K. for a major new hub in the Thames Estuary. London Mayor Boris Johnson has been lobbying hard for an estuary airport for two years. Recently, architectural heavyweight Sir Norman Foster proposed a rival $80-billion estuary project that includes high-speed rail, tidal power and a major new utilities and data spine.
Foster’s Thames Hub would be built at the end of the Isle of Grain, Kent, some 55 kilometers east of central London. Over a third of the 40,000-hectare airport would be on land reclaimed, with about 280 million cu meters of material from the estuary. With four 4-km-long runways, the airport’s 150-million annual passenger capacity would be more than twice Heathrow’s, says Foster, chairman of Foster & Partners, London. Foster and two other firms developed the plan on their own.