A new six-runway hub airport to the east of London could be built within seven years at a cost of £47.3billion.

However, the ambitious plans would require the closure of Heathrow airport, which employs 76,000 people.

The proposed new airport would sit on a purpose-built island off the Isle of Sheppey in Kent in the Thames Estuary, some 50 miles east of central London, and would be known as London Britannia Airport.

The proposal was released by Thames Estuary Research and Development (Testrad), a consortium formed by London Mayor Boris Johnson to address the capital’s air capacity crunch.

Testrad said the new hub would have six runways and could be built within seven years without having to demolish houses or industrial infrastructure. It will also create 200,000 jobs.

London Britannia Airport
© Testrad

“This project avoids flying over densely populated areas of London and the south east, removing completely the noise contours and impact which have bedevilled millions of people throughout and around London over the past 40 years,” a Testrad spokeswoman said.

But Heathrow vehemently opposes the plans. In June Colin Matthews, CEO of Heathrow, said: “Britain already has one of the world’s most successful international hub airports in Heathrow.

Expanding Heathrow will put Britain ahead in the global race, connecting UK business to growth more quickly and at less cost to the taxpayer than any other option for new capacity.

Heathrow is better located for passengers, business and jobs. Why build from scratch at a new hub when we can build on the strength that already exists around Heathrow today?”