24 October 2002

Heathrow should close, says planner

By Charles Clover

Heathrow should be closed and a new airport built on the Thames at Cliffe in Kent to cope with the tripling of demand for air travel over the next 30 years, a leading planner said yesterday.

Prof Sir Peter Hall, president of the Town and Country Planning Association, said that of the options for new airports in the South East published by the Government, Cliffe, on the north Kent marshes, was the "optimal solution".

He also backed the expansion of East Midlands airport over a new airport on a green field site between Coventry and Rugby.

A new four runway "hub" airport at Cliffe would destroy miles of internationally protected sites for migrating birds, but Sir Peter said building would be less socially and environmentally damaging than expanding Heathrow.

Sir Peter, a professor at University College, London, told a conference in the capital there was a need for a new airport properly integrated with rail, to reduce road traffic and provide links with new 100mph European rail services.