Making this announcement today Louise Ellman, Chair of the House of Commons’ Transport Committee said,
"We welcome the publication of the Airports Commission’s interim report and the recognition it gives to the urgent need for additional runway capacity in the south east. We look forward to questioning Sir Howard Davies on his report and the substance of his proposals for further work between now and the publication of the Commission’s final report in 2015.
The Transport Committee’s Aviation Strategy report concluded earlier this year that expansion of Heathrow is the best way forward. I am pleased therefore that two options for Heathrow expansion are on the short list of long-term options produced by the Airports Commission.
Our report noted a number of serious challenges associated with building an entirely new hub airport in the Thames estuary area, many of which have been noted by the Commission. For example, a new Isle of Grain hub would cost approximately five times more than expanding Heathrow. Surface access in particular would be an expensive element of the proposal.
The Commission notes that building a new Isle of Grain hub would lead to the closure of Heathrow and London City. It may also result in the closure of Southend Airport. We concluded that the closure of Heathrow would have unacceptable consequences on businesses and individuals in and around west London.
There are also significant environmental impacts associated with building a new Isle of Grain hub, including flood risks and potential damage to protected wildlife habitats in the estuary.
The Commission also makes a number of practical recommendations to the Government for short-term action to improve the efficiency and resilience of existing airports – many of which echo suggestions we made in our Aviation strategy report earlier this year."