Every few years the possibility of a Severnside airport gets raised again – this time on the back of the ongoing discussions about London airports expansion. The Institute of Welsh Affairs recently published a proposal for an offshore airport in the Severn Estuary with a capacity of 20 million passengers costing 2 billion pounds, which will never get built as it is too ambitious and costly. It also threw away its major competitive advantage which is its potential for direct rail and motorway access.
So I have put together an alternative proposal which I think is more achievable:
The airport should be built to the south of the route of the new M4 Relief Road, as it passes south of Llanwern Steelworks between Newport and Caldicot. The airport should initially have a west-facing single 3,000m runway built on existing farmland. The runway would be to the north of the village of Redwick but would require the compulsory purchase and demolition of a handful of farm buildings in the area.
The runway alignment should ensure flight paths would be to the south of Magor avoiding any significant noise pollution over populated areas.
The main terminal should be to the south of the new M4 but with support facilities, hotels, car parking etc built to the north of the new M4 adjacent to the Llanwern site so as to reduce environmental impact.
A new airport railway station should be built on the main South Wales rail line between Magor and Llanwern.
The airport should have an initial capacity of 10 million passengers per year, but with a potential for a future capacity of 15-20 million. This assumes that it will fully replace the existing Cardiff and Bristol airports with a current combined passenger load of 7 million. However with a full length runway able to take long-haul flights and improved road and rail connectivity it should be feasible to grow this figure. In particular it is estimated that around 4 million passengers a year from South Wales and South West England currently travel through London Airports.
The new airport will have a dedicated junction off the new M4 relief road, and until it is built will have direct access from existing M4 Junction 23A at Magor. This will put Bristol, Newport and Cardiff within 30 minutes of the airport; Swansea, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Swindon, Bath, Weston-Super-Mare and Taunton within 1 hour. Most of Bristol including the main employment areas around Filton, Aztec West and Avonmouth will be nearer the new Severnside Airport than existing Bristol airport.
The main South Wales rail line runs just to the north of the airport site and a new station between Llanwern and Magor would provide direct access to the airport. There is already a plan to open a station at Llanwern and this could be replaced by an airport station which would also serve the Magor area.
The line is currently 4 track and while it is not electrified, it will be by 2020 as part of the GWR electrification and there are various improvement plans in place as part of the Cardiff Metro and Bristol Metro projects.
The line is already served by direct trains every 30 minutes between Cardiff Central, Newport and Bristol Temple Meads, and it is assumed that all these services would stop at the Airport station.
Hourly services extend through Bristol to Bath, Southampton and Portsmouth providing direct rail access to these destinations.
There is also an hourly service from Cardiff to Cheltenham which could stop at the airport along with Cross-Country services to Birmingham which would also increase direct rail connections.
Cardiff Central already provides connectivity to Valley Line services and stations in South West Wales, and which should improve further with the proposed Cardiff Metro. Planned Bristol Metro services would also improve connections with the wider Bristol area.
However, it is assumed that Intercity services between Cardiff and London would not initially stop at the Airport, although this could be reconsidered as part of later airport expansion.
The station would be around 1km from the main terminal and could be linked by a regular bus shuttle running at 10 minute intervals. It could also be linked by a travelator as part of later development.
The airport would initially open with a capacity of 10 million and a single runway. This could cost around 2-300 million pounds.
Phase 2 to coincide with the opening of the M4 relief road could add a cargo terminal. This could cost another 50-100 million pounds.
Phase 3 could increase passenger capacity to 15-20 million depending on forecast growth and would require a terminal extension and second runway which could be built on partially reclaimed land on the Severn foreshore. This could cost a further 2-300 million pounds.
Environmentalists have already objected to the construction of the M4 Relief Road, and the same opposition can be expected to any airport. It is claimed that the area is a unique lowland environment, but it is only drained marshland with little aesthetic appeal and few wildlife considerations. In addition very few properties will be directly affected and noise pollution will not affect any populated areas. Any development will have an environmental impact and the economic benefits of this plan far outweigh any negative impacts.
It should be noted that Bristol airport expansion is also facing environmental objections.
The Welsh Government already own Cardiff Airport and are likely to fully back a new Severside Airport as a replacement.
Bristol Airport is owned 50% between Bristol City Council and FirstGroup and has understandably already dismissed Severnside proposals. However the new airport and improved transport connections would bring huge benefits to most of the Bristol area, and FirstGroup should be able to generate commercial synergies at the airport.
If Bristol Airport could reach a commercial agreement to join a Severnside Airport consortium and plan to transfer all operations to Severnside upon opening it should prove to be very profitable. However if Severnside opens in direct competition to Bristol then it would only be a matter of time before flights and passengers switched to the better connected airport and the current situation between Cardiff Airport and Bristol Airport would be replicated in reverse.
(Also posted in Skyscrapercity)
No chance! To use part of your own post....."which will never get built as it is too ambitious and costly." Money is in 'short supply' unless you know a guy who could print some??
Replacing Bristol airport? I think that's unlikely. You're talking about a conurbation of 600,000 and all those south of there in Devon, Somerset, Dorset are hardly going to want an extra 40 minute drive.
Why even consider a new airport where the rail link is 1 km from the terminal. If a new facility were to be built it needs to be seamless, with trains arriving directly into the terminal building. Not having passengers make 2, 3 or 4connections, whilst carrying luggage, and possibly several kids. Most airports suffer from a poor transport infrastructure, so why miss the chance to get it perfect if building a whole new site. The fact is there is no money for such a development anyway...
I think this project is a goer!
People could also use the barrage to get to it from the South West, failing that the Seacat service that runs hourly from Ilfracombe to Penarth could be extended to a new jetty on the Severn Side of the new terminal.
They would obviously have to reduce the 4 times daily JFK flights from Cardiff Airport, I don't think there is that much capacity on this route.
The Welsh Government APP (Air Passenger Payment) might need to be looked at again, as paying every passenger c£w20.00 (Welsh Pounds) might not now be enough.
The only real downside I can see is that the Glass Needle/Bayscape should definitely not have been built to 42/50 floors as they are now on the western glide path, ahh well you can get everything right!
Won't planes be taking off and landing directly over Newport?
This has precisely 0% chance of happening, I reckon.
Surely Bristol would prefer to have a larger airport with full length runway able to take long-haul flights - only 15 minutes along the motorway from main employment areas or 15 minutes on the train from the city centre
Or does it really want to keep a rural airport with a shortened runway and limited potential for expansion - 30 minutes drive along B-roads with no rail access?
This is a no-brainer!
Fear not, no need for a new airport, Cardiff can handle the A380.
Just one of these flights a year would nearly double passenger numbers at Cardiff.
The IWA proposal is too ambitious and costly. I think the proposal above is far more realistic and could be self-financing - it just needs political will
Just been checking journey times from a number of different locations to Bristol Airport or Magor*
Positive figures indicate longer travel time to Severside compared to Bristol Lulsgate
Negative figures indicate shorter travel time to Severnside
Bristol Temple Meads +6 mins
Exeter: +5 mins
Bath +3 mins
Bristol Parkway -6 mins
Avonmouth -8 mins
Bristol Filton -14 mins
Bristol Aztec West -16 mins
Swindon -8 mins
Gloucester -14 mins
* Magor village centre is shown as a 4 minute drive from J23A of M4 which is slightly longer than it would take to get from J23A to proposed Severnside site so errs on the conservative side by maybe 2 mins.
".......and you exchanged our cow for those beans?!?!?!?"
Have we discovered oil in cardigan bay?
How wide is the runway in those pics?
Runway shown is full plot width of around 750m. I will overlay detailed runway layout when I get some time
This is only a bit of fun - but I think I can make a good business case for this.
I would include some initial public investments but motorway is coming anyway and railway is already there, so transport infrastructure spending is limited - I would anticipate WA putting up say 100 million to get things started but as an equity investment which it should recover later.
So an airport with a usage of 5 million pax/yr in year 1 with landing fees of £30/head would generates an income of £150 million per year. What would operating costs be - 20 million per year? So income could repay investments in 5-10 years
Assuming a buildup to 10 million in year 5 with a potential maximum of 20 million and the business case could be very attractive to say a middle eastern sovereign wealth fund (with its own airline).
The Cardigan Bay oil can be saved to pay for a few aircraft carriers to guard our magic beans.....
Plans to replace Cardiff and Bristol airports with a £5bn airport on the Severn Estuary have been criticised as unrealistic.
good option this, only way would be for uk government to support it...and it to be a major south west uk hub airport.
it has potential and if it had been done ten years ago when first mentioned a lot of current issues would be moot. short termism in play back then and still today.
south west Britain will remain a slave to south east England.
CARDIFFWALESMAP - FORUM