OPPOSITION is mounting against £50billion plans to build a huge international airport in the Thames Estuary.

Essex Federation of Small Businesses is the latest to reject proposals for the proposed airport, which would cater for about 150 million passengers a year.

The move comes after Canvey Town Council announced plans to join forces with parish councils in Kent to oppose the scheme.

Two proposals have been submitted for the estuary – London mayor Boris Johnson’s original idea for a floating base near the Isle of Sheppey and architect Lord Norman Foster’s recent proposal for a four-runway airport off the Isle of Grain, in Kent. Lord Foster’s proposal would dominate the view from Southend’s seafront and pier and dwarf nearby Canvey.

Iain Wicks, chairman of the Essex Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We accept there will be an increase in the number of people flying from airports in the South East.

“But rather than create an airport in the estuary, with all the problems that would bring, we would like better use made of available capacity at existing airports, including Southend, Stansted and Manston, in Kent.

“We also believe that if a hub airport is needed, consideration should be given to London Gatwick being developed to fulfil that role.’’ Mr Wicks added: “This policy decision will form the basis of our response to the Mayor of London and will also be sent to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership transport working group for inclusion in their consideration of the mayor’s proposal.”

The national federation is the largest single organisation representing business interests in the UK, with more than 200,000 members.