In December 2013, Harriet Harriss appeared on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 discussing the unbuilt ‘Boris Island’ London Airport Plans. Harriet is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, and she was interviewed to voice her opinion on Boris Johnson’s plan to build an airport in the Thames estuary.

ThamesportThe London Britannia Airport, a proposed six-runway airport formerly known as ‘Boris Island’, is an estuary airport plan where all aircraft landing and departures would be over the Thames estuary. Sites with more airport capacity are currently under review including plans for additional runways at Gatwick and Heathrow, but Testrad (Thames Estuary Research and Development) believe the ‘Boris Island’ scheme will avoid the problems of other land-based airport developments. The unbuilt estuary airport plan now involves more partners, including marine, environment, aviation, transport and architecture experts.

The idea of a new airport built from scratch is still in the mix, and Harriet Harriss was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 to discuss the controversial ‘Boris Island’ London Britannia Airport plans. In the interview, Harriet argued that the ‘outlandish’ idea is in fact not very original at all as there have already been a number of schemes involving transport infrastructure in the Thames. During the 1930’s, a new airport was proposed that included a platform of runways erected on stilts above the Thames at Westminster Bridge, and this would be a raised airport right next to the Houses of Parliament. Harriet also discussed the Thames Railway Viaduct, an idea put forward by engineers James Samuel and John M. Heppe in the 1860s. The pair proposed to build a railway down the middle of the Thames, which would have been sited on by cast iron piers between London Bridge and Westminster Bridge via a series of intermediary stations.

During the interview with BBC Radio 4, Harriet Harriss said:
The thing is, we think ‘Boris Island’, this idea of an airport in the Thames, is actually really radical but it borrows it’s key ideas from a number of quite hair-brained schemes that happened or were proposed at least 100 years ago. There is no way we can really expand underground anymore, so we have to think more openly about the idea of doing less subterranean transport networks.

Visit architecture.brookes.ac.uk for more information on the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes.

For more information on current airport expansion schemes, click here.

*Testrad is the original agency formed by London Mayor Boris Johnson to look at the estuary airport option.

Image credit: Barker, F., Ralph Hyde, R., (1982) London As It Might Have Been.