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Proposed Thames Estuary Airport In London Could Handle 150 Million Passengers A Year (PHOTOS)

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A newly proposed airport for London, located east of the city in the Thames River Estuary, could be the world's biggest, handling 150 million passengers a year -- if it's ever actually built.

Among the proposed features of the super-sized airport are four runways, two steps up from Heathrow's two, a rail hub with connections to the UK and Continental Europe to serve 300,000 passengers a day, a flood barrier to protect the Thames Estuary and London and a tide-powered energy system that could supply 76,000 homes or the airport itself.

So far, though, the super-project is simply a proposal from Foster + Partners, the architecture firm headed by Lord Norman Foster, Halcrow, an infrastructure development firm, and economists from Volterra Partners.

Plans to build a third runway at Heathrow were recently abandoned after much controversy, so the airport proposal comes at a time of uncertainty about London's air transport and infrastructure future. London Mayor Boris Johnson has already thrown his support behind the new plans, reports the Daily Mail.

In a report on the project (PDF), Foster + Partners has anticipated the public outcry the massive infrastructure project will likely generate. Writes Norman Foster himself: "We need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th century forebears if we are to establish a modern transport and energy infrastructure in Britain for this century and beyond."

If Britain can muster the muscle -- and £50 billion to pay for the new transit hub -- Dubai could have some stiff competition.

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