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Oldest bird reserve threatened by airport expansion plan

Plans for a huge airport expansion at Lydd on the south-eastern tip of Kent are threatening the oldest reserve under the management of the RSPB. The airport is close to the ecologically unusual Dungeness nature reserve.

Businessman Sheikh Fahad al-Athel is proposing a huge expansion of the small airport near the village of Lydd. He wants to extend the runway and build a new terminal to increase the number of passengers using the aerodrome 100-fold – from fewer than 5,000 a year to half a million. Eventually he hopes 2 million passengers will use the airport.

The plans threaten the oldest reserve under the management of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). The 75-year-old reserve is fully protected by British and European ornithological legislation. It sits on flat marshland and shingle banks in the shadow of the nuclear power stations at Dungeness. In winter it hosts about 60 species of birds such as goldeneye, smew and bittern.

Under regulations imposed by the CAA, the airport would have a duty to employ bird-scaring techniques to minimise the threat of bird-strikes on the jet engines. The RSPB argues that using scarers on the edge of a legally protected bird sanctuary is “ludicrous”. Article in Independent (27/2/07)