Goodwin Sands – The Best New UK Hub Airport Proposal

Goodwin Sands, 1.8 miles off the East Kent coast, may provide the answer to the UK’s urgent need to increase our airport capacity. An article recently appeared in the PRV Engineering blog regarding building a 5th runway at London Heathrow. It therefore seemed only right and proper that this new development in the Kent sandbanks should also be given an immediate airing.

4 New Runways with Fast Access to London
The Goodwin Sands proposal continues the recent theme of building satellite airports around the capitol. Luton, Stanstead, City and Gatwick all extend London’s capacity for handling international air traffic. The new proposal carries plans for up to four new runways within a new hub airport with 40 minute duration high speed links to the city centre.

Goodwin Sands vs. the Thames Estuary
The biggest concerns about building new runways at Heathrow have been both social and environmental. But the Goodwin Sands proposal offers by far the least environmentally damaging solution than anything else posited thus far. There have been proposals before to build new airports within the Thames estuary. However all of them were rejected because of the adverse effects they would have had on either shipping, or the environment. In addition the Thames Estuary isn’t large enough to house the 4 runways that it is suggested are needed to sufficiently increase the UK’s air traffic handling capacity.

The Offshore Airport Trend
Building offshore airports is becoming more popular. This is especially relevant for island countries where space is at a premium. Take for example the new airport builds in South Korea (Incheon Airport), and Japan (Kansai Airport). Building a hub airport at Goodwin Sands would follow this latest trend. Also, in terms of the environment, it poses the least harmful option to date.

There’s another attraction too. An airport with approaches over water has little or no social impact. It means that planes could land and take off, around the clock, 24 hours per day.

The Advantages of a Hub on Goodwin Sands
The proposal for building a new hub airport at Goodwin Sands in the sea on the Kent Sandbanks was formulated by the maritime engineering company Beckett Rankine. It has many significant advantages over competitive land based proposals including:

• Maximising capacity: The Goodwin Sands site has provided plenty of space. It would easily house 4 runways, each 1.5Km apart. This would facilitate continual 24 hour access to aircraft for each independent runaway.

• Fast transport links: Goodwin Sands can easily be linked into the High Speed railway network. This would enable a 40 minute journey time into the centre of London. It would also link into Eurostar for direct rapid rail transit to other European capitals. In addition it would have easy access into the road network, linking into the A2 and M20.

• Goodwin Sands is of course within UK territorial waters.

• The sea based location facilitates 24 hour operation

• The Goodwin Sands site won’t compromise any wildlife conservation areas. Nor will it have any adverse effect on our shipping lanes.

• Building at Goodwin Sands doesn’t have any social disadvantages. It also benefits from the fact that it won’t be necessary to demolish any existing structures or housing.

• Another advantage is that a site at Goodwin Sands won’t mean having to demolish and re-site any existing wind farms.

The Goodwin Sands proposal is perhaps the best to date. As long as the planners take into account the forecast rise in sea levels, it could well prove to be the most suitable location. But one thing is clear. If the UK is to keep its international hub status, we need to make a quick decision and begin building as soon as possible.

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