Designers unveil plan for futuristic island airport in London

18 November 2013 (Last Updated November 18th, 2013 18:30)

A consortium formed by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has presented a plan for a six-runway airport on an artificial island in the Thames estuary, which could be built with an investment of £47.3bn over a period of seven years.

A consortium formed by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has presented a plan for a six-runway airport on an artificial island in the Thames estuary, which could be built with an investment of £47.3bn over a period of seven years.

The proposed London Britannia Airport would be constructed on a purpose-built oval island off the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, about 80km east of central London, according to the Thames Estuary Research and Development (Testrad) consortium.

The design plan features interlinked translucent hemispherical pods, which allow the light to reach the vegetation within the airport.

"Heathrow Airport will close if London Britannia Airport becomes operational."

On 11 November, the airport plan was launched at the House of Lords, the UK Parliament's upper house, two years after architect Norman Foster proposed a four-runway hub in the Thames Estuary.

The mid-river location of the airport avoids flying over densely populated areas of London and the south-east, removing noise issues, while eliminating the need to demolish houses or industrial infrastructure.

The proposal has been dubbed 'Boris island' by the media, due to the support for the project from Boris Johnson. The scheme was proposed by Testrad, initially an agency formed by Johnson but now also involving other partners.

According to the Greater London Authority, passenger numbers to all airports in London are expected to more than double by 2031, from 127 million a year in 2010 to 300 million.

The new airport will address the passenger overcapacity in London, with Heathrow Airport currently running at 99% capacity. According to Gensler, its designers, Heathrow Airport will close if London Britannia Airport becomes operational.