THAMES REACH AIRPORT
FROM CONCEPT TO REALITY
A REVIEW OF THE DOCUMENTATION FOR AN OUTLINE PLANNING APPLICATION
Thames Reach Airport is an independent private sector initiative, supported by leading UK consultants, whose key strategy for the provision of new aviation capacity in the South East is the development of a single-site solution on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent in conjunction with a multi-modal Lower Thames Tunnel under the Thames Sea Reach. The alliance of the tunnel with the airport provides exceptionally good surface access to the airport while bringing very substantial wider benefits to the Thames Gateway region and to the future growth of London. The strategy has been developed over the last two years from consultations with a wide range of interested parties to ensure that it addresses both the aviation requirements and the broader planning requirements for sustainable growth. The DfT SERAS team (South East Regional Air Services) has undertaken preliminary appraisals and the results are published in the Aviation White Paper and associated reports. Further analysis is required to address some concerns raised by the DfT but the published reports already demonstrate the advantages of Thames Reach over the SERAS/Cliffe proposals and indicate how Thames Reach can provide better net economic outputs than any scheme promoted by the White Paper. While the White Paper has opted for a combined Stansted/Heathrow solution and reserved expansion at Gatwick beyond 2019 it does not confirm particular developments nor preclude independent proposals. Accordingly this report examines the requirements for an Outline Planning Application for Thames Reach.
2 Appraisal on the SERAS computer models (NAAM, SPASM and SCAB)
During the SERAS consultations it was argued with good reason that it would be unfair to undertake multiple runs of the SERAS models for any one scheme, hence only a single run was undertaken on a version of the Thames Reach proposals that is now outdated. Now that the White Paper has been published Thames Reach has emerged from all the alternative proposals, whether considered by the SERAS team or submitted by the private sector, as the closest new-build scheme to Central London. It has also been shown to have one of the widest catchment areas, highest capacities and the highest net economic output from a single run of the models. There is clearly a strong case for undertaking further runs of the SERAS models to compare the full potential of the up-to-date Thames Reach project with the White Paper proposals. Accordingly further runs of the SERAS models would review and adjust the outputs based on the latest Thames Reach proposals, which include revisions to the following inputs: -: –
- Surface access provisions and costs
- Airport contribution to surface access costs
- Phasing of the platform construction
- Runway configuration, completion dates and phased ATM capacities
- Operating hours to avoid shadow costs around 2015/2016
- Phasing of longer operating hours to 20, and/or 24-hour
- Phasing of freight capacity with the third and fourth runways
- Comparative proximity transit time benefits
- Seeding and forecasting assumptions
- Supplementary incomes from on-site facilities
The results from these additional runs of the SERAS models will demonstrate the advantages of Thames Reach over the White Paper proposals and form part of the documentation for the Outline Planning Application.
3 The Reality
Thames Reach Airport has six key advantages in meeting the SERAS requirements:
- An integrated solution for the wider transport infrastructure of the southeast and the future growth of London.
- A single-site solution providing the most accessible and least constrained growth in aviation capacity for the southeast.
- A low environmental impact per passenger owing to the estuary location, rail-led infrastructure and sustainable operation.
- A low cost per passenger owing to sharing of the surface access, phased new-build construction and efficient operation.
- A safer and more secure estuarial location than the urban and inland locations of existing airports.
- A readily implementable solution within the scope of the SERAS consultations and the existing structure of the airline industry.
4 Scope of the required outline planning documentation
In addition to the statutory requirements, an Outline Planning Application for Thames Reach Airport will include the following documentation: –
- Statements on each of the advantages listed above together with supporting documentation and technical analysis provided by Thames Reach Consultants,
- Consultants’ reports as listed in Appendix A. These reports will demonstrate the distinct advantages of Thames Reach Airport and field the concerns raised in the White Paper and associated reports.
5 Programme and Costs
9 months to submission of an outline planning application within which 6 months are required for preparation of the Consultants reports. Estimated costs to submission of an outline planning application £450K.
OUTLINE PLANNING REPORTS FOR THAMES REACH AIRPORT
- Updated Thames Reach Airport Prospectus
- Additional runs on the SERAS models
- Environmental Assessment
- Sustainability Statement
- Phasing of the Lower Thames Tunnel
- Phasing of the surface access
- Mode share justification
- Surface access and tunnel capacities
- Capital costs and phasing of costs
- Justification of the compact airfield
- Review of “comparative proximity” benefits
- Review of the “new-build” benefits
- Night flights and longer operating hours
- Forecasting of aviation services
- Seeding costs and repayment
- Opportunities for renewable energy
- Air traffic control
- Aerodrome Licensing
- Bird strike risks and management
- Wildlife dissuasion technology
- Airport security and public safety
- Supplementary incomes from Thames Reach
- Wider benefits from Thames Reach
- Development risks
- Comparison with the White Paper proposals