Maplin Sands International Airport
Southend-on-Sea
Maplin International Airport was planned to be London’s third airport instead of Stansted. This was planned to be built at Maplin Sands mudflats located on the northern bank of the Thames estuary, off Foulness Island, the flats actually lay within the Rochford District Council boundary. The mudflats are home to countless wading birds, the area is also a live firing range previously operated by the Ministry of Defence now operated by QinetiQ. A plan to develop the airport was first announced in 1971, the plans were given royal assent in October 1973, with a special planning order being granted for planning permission. Works started with a man made island being constructed. The scheme was designed as four runway international airport operating 24 hours a day, It would include a deep-water harbour to accommodate the new larger container ships then entering service, a high speed rail link to London and the building of the M12 & M13 motorways to London, another part of the plan was to build a complete town with shops and accommodation for the airport workers.

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The Maplin Airport scheme was abandoned after the General Election by the incoming Labour Government in July 1974. The scheme for a Thames Estuary airport rears its head every few years, the latest was from Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London. Johnson then had no control over the areas outside London, however, this did not stop him setting up a steering committee to look into the project further.
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