London Mayor steps in to push for Ark Royal capital bid

HMS Ark Royal
HMS Ark Royal
A Royal Navy shot of a helicopter winching exercise

Navy aircrewman hits milestone on city ship

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THE Mayor of London could step in to cut red tape in the wake of a plan to turn the former Royal Navy aircraft carrier Ark Royal into a heliport in the capital, The News can reveal.

A proposal to bring Ark Royal to the Thames was thought to be on rocky ground after officials from the London Assembly said there was no desire in the London Plan for more helipads.

But Boris Johnson is understood to be bringing in outside expertise to draft changes to the London Plan and pave the way for Ark Royal to come to the capital.

Sources say a wealthy consortium of city investors are behind the bid to bring the Ark to London.

Manned by a crew of retired sailors, soldiers and airmen, the axed warship would be a base for emergency services aircraft, as well as a commercial helipad.

Penny Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, is supportive of the plan.

She told The News: ‘This would be a dignified life for Ark Royal after she leaves Portsmouth.

‘I understand there is a lot of money behind this bid and there is a great political appetite for it to happen.’

The London Assembly denied Mr Johnson is taking matters into his own hands. A spokesman said: ‘We are interested in anything that will add to the attraction of London but this goes against the London Plan.’

Mr Johnson was unable to be contacted for comment yesterday.

Ark Royal is up for sale in Portsmouth Naval Base. She has attracted interest from 17 parties, including one bid to turn her into a tourist site in Gibraltar.