Boris Johnson favours plans for a four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary over Heathrow expansion

Boris Johnson: Heathrow expansion is 'investing in decline'

The UK will become "a bit-part player in the aviation world" if the expansion of Heathrow airport goes ahead, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said.

After a three-year study, the Airports Commission recommended Heathrow as the best location for an additional runway designed to boost the UK's air capacity in July. However, Johnson has now sent a 30-page dossier to MPs and peers, attacking the decision.

The Mayor has long championed proposals for a new four-runway airport built on an artificial island in the Thames estuary dubbed 'Boris Island'. The commission rejected the scheme this time last year due to the £112bn price tag – roughly five times as much as the short-listed alternatives.

In his dossier, Johnson - MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip - claims that building a third runway at the west London airport would mean "investing in decline", as the commission's own report showed that the proposal would not solve capacity issues.

Johnson said: "The Airports Commission has spent several years in the production of a gigantic ball of wool that they are now attempting to pull over the eyes of the nation.

"The figures teased out of their report on the fall in domestic and even long-haul connectivity show that as a nation, by expanding Heathrow, we would merely be investing in decline. Their report very clearly shows that a third runway will fail both London and the UK on every level."

Johnson's staff claim figures "buried" in the Commission's report show that an expanded Heathrow would offer six fewer daily long-haul destinations in 2030 and the dossier stated that only four UK cities will have a connection to the UK hub in 2030 - three fewer than today.

"Our great nation is sleepwalking its way towards becoming a bit-part player in the aviation world. Now is the time for boldness. Now is the time to build an airport that can fulfil the needs of every corner of the UK," Johnson added.

In making his decision, the commission's chairman Sir Howard Davies expressed "serious doubts about the delivery and operation" of the Boris Island development and said the commission chose expansion at Heathrow because it predicted it would create the most jobs and make the most money for the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the Government will make a decision on airport expansion by the end of the year.

A Heathrow spokesman said: "The Airports Commission has been unanimous and unambiguous that only expansion of Heathrow will keep Britain as a leading aviation hub and it can do so while still meeting environmental targets and being fair to local communities.

"It concludes that expanding Heathrow would enhance connections between the UK regions and London and its associated onward connectivity."

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