A FOUR-RUNWAY international airport is being proposed for land west of Abingdon.

The £18.2bn plan, which would have capacity for 125m passengers, is one of the proposals submitted to a Government commissionlooking at the future of the UK’s airports.

The Airports Commission was set up to find out how to make best use of existing airport capacity and investigate long-term proposals for new runways, airports and infrastructure.

Bristol architects firm Pleiade Associates has submitted proposals for the airport between Marcham and the Hanneys to the commission, which is inviting comments on all of the plans.

Alan Geal, one of the architects behind the scheme – who refused to say whether he had been commissioned to carry out the study – said: “There’s a problem with airport capacity. If nothing sensible is done, Heathrow will carry on expanding.

“I have no beef against the inhabitants of the Vale of White Horse. Of course there will be an environmental impact but this is the least-worst option. We looked around the whole South East to find this site.”


As well as costing £18.2bn, he estimated the scheme would see more than £3bn of infrastructure improvements, including: l A motorway link road between the A34 and the M4; l A new main line railway station with eight platforms l Turning part of the A34 between Didcot and the M4 at Chieveley into a motorway; l Extensions of Crossrail and the HS2 rail route to the airport l Diverting the A338.

Mr Geal said: “I have no idea if it will be shortlisted or not. We have assembled our arguments and evidence and submitted our proposals.

“We considered the traffic problems and from Oxford’s point of view the transport improvements will be significant. It will be hugely beneficial to the area.”

If built, the report submitted to the Airports Commission says that by 2060 the airport – would be busier than the existing Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports in terms of numbers of passengers a year.

The site, which is in the hands of a number of landowners, has already been identified for a possible “garden city” of 30,000 homes but Mr Geal said if the Government wanted to go ahead with the airport, it could use compulsory purchase orders to acquire land.

Local politicians expressed scepticism about the proposal.

Ed Vaizey, Wantage MP and the Government’s Culture Minister, said: “I hope people don't think I'm being too nimby-ish if I say that putting a four-runway international airport between Abingdon and Didcot is a completely daft idea. They should change the name of the proposal from LOX to LOL. It's a complete non-starter.”

And Sandy Lovatt, the leader of Abingdon Town Council, said: “I reckon the idea is absurd, makes no sense commercially or in terms of passengers. I think people in the area will be against it. It is too high a price to pay for infrastructure improvements.”

However, Bob Bradley, the president of Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “My initial reaction is that it would be good for business, however, clearly people also live in the communities around the site and there are a number of issues around that.

"The road infrastructure around Oxfordshire is one of the biggest barriers to growth in the area and the infrastructure improvements are a definite side benefit.”

The Airports Commission will examine the submitted options and present its interim findings by the end of this year, with a full report in summer 2015.

Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the commission, said: “The proposals that we have received and that we have published demonstrate imaginative and thoughtful responses to the challenges that the Airports Commission has been set, but also show clearly the wide spectrum of views that exist on these issues.”

Comments can be sent to the commission on any of the proposals by emailing airports.inquiries@airports.gsi.gov.uk before Friday, September 27.