Ben Lowry: London has also botched its airport strategy

An artists impression of a design by Rick Mather Architects of Heathrow City, a 190,000-home town that would spring up if the west London airport closes. Photo: GLA/PA Wire
An artists impression of a design by Rick Mather Architects of Heathrow City, a 190,000-home town that would spring up if the west London airport closes. Photo: GLA/PA Wire

Northern Ireland is not the only part of the UK to have botched its airport provision (click here article criticising NI airport provision).

London has done so also.

Britain has just squandered the most exciting infrastructure opportunity in a century.

The government should have closed Heathrow – yes closed it – and turned it into a huge tree-lined neighbourhood of new housing.

London is so desperately in need of new housing that even people such as my sister, a consultant doctor, cannot afford to buy a one-bed flat there.

West London is well suited to housing and Heathrow is the perfect location for it.

In replacement the biggest airport in the world could have been built in the much less attractive Thames Valley. Boris Johnson backed this plan.

The airport would have spur rail line off the existing HS1 high speed line, linking into the planned HS2 to the north. It would have direct high speed train services to both central London and mainland Europe. Such an airport would give extra impetus to widening the last three lane sections of the M25 motorway.

Being east of London would not disadvantage Northern Ireland. Already our flights to London typically curve round to the east of the city then head west to Heathrow.

In fact we would benefit. There would be so many slots that there would be no threat to our access to global connections, which would be concentrated in a single mega airport.

Such an airport would no doubt cost £100 billion+ but would be the UK’s most important ever construction project. We’re the world’s fifth largest economy and were once its engineering pioneers.

Ben Lowry: The success of Dublin Airport contrasts with NI’s split airport provision

Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor