Planning in the media

Hopes are being revived that Heathrow could be relocated to an island airport in the Thames Estuary after the government agreed to consider detailed studies on the proposal, according to The Sunday Times.

Chancellor George Osborne is understood to be "keen to hear more" after receiving a briefing from the government's former chief scientist Sir David King which found that the airport is a realistic long-term option. The report suggests a two-island airport would perform a "dual use" as a flood defence for London.

Scotland must spend £10 million on its own blueprint for a high-speed rail route north of the border because the coalition government is only serious about building lines from London to northern England, The Scotsman reported. Jim Steer, founder of high-speed rail pressure group Greengauge 21, said transport secretary Philip Hammond may consider running new 250mph trains into Scotland at slower speeds on existing tracks rather than extending the new line. He said Hammond could be won over if the Scottish government produces plans for a route to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Hammond's claim that the coalition government will "end the war on motorists" was disputed by The Guardian. It quoted DfT figures showing that the cost of motoring fell 14 per cent between 1997 and 2009 while rail fares went up 13 per cent and bus and coach tickets shot up by 24 per cent. "What those figures suggest is not so much a war on drivers as a battle against the users of public transport," the paper commented.

The London 2012 Olympics has delivered a publicly funded bonanza for companies in London and the South East but other areas are deriving meagre benefits, according to the Financial Times. Companies based in London have won more than £2.7 billion of contracts, more than half the total £5.1 billion so far spent by the Olympic Delivery Authority. South East companies won contracts worth £805 million and those in eastern England £719 million. Companies in the North East and South West have won £9 million each while businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined have netted £43 million.


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