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New hub airport for the south-east

Vince Cable and Alan Willett back Thames Estuary, Paul Carter backs Essex.

A Thames Estuary airport has won heavyweight backing from Business Secretary Vince Cable and one of Kent’s most respected figures. With Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne expected to announce today that the government is taking more interest in the controversial plan, former Lord Lieutenant of Kent Allan Willett says it would be a wonderful opportunity for Kent.

The businessman and philanthropist who stepped down as the Queen’s representative in August, believes that a new ‘hub’ airport for the county would transform the economy. Mr Willett, 75, the founder of a multi-million pound company Willett International, said:

“We need skilled jobs and, by God, you build an airport and you get lots of skilled jobs. Kent needs something like that.

Meanwhile, Mr Cable told business chiefs at Leeds Castle:

“I don’t have anything against it. If it happens, it will probably solve a lot of problems. If it’s feasible and private investors are willing to put lots of money into it, and the problems of birds, radar and over-lapping flight paths with the Dutch can be sorted out, I would have thought there’s probably a good reason for it.”

Kent County Council and Medway council have previously opposed the plan, preferring airport development to be at Manston. But KCC leader Cllr Carter today conceded there was a “very good business case” for a new airport while adding:

“What has to be talked about is the opportunity for an airport on the Essex side of the Thames.”

kentonline 29th Nov 2011

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