After a planning inquiry lasting many years, the Government has this month granted permission for Lydd airport both to extend its runway and to build new terminal facilities. The currently tiny airport hopes to attract up to half a million passengers a year. The original application for expansion was made in 2006 and approved by Shepway District Council in 2010, but the decision was subsequently ‘called in’ for consideration by central Government.
The Lydd Airport Action Group has opposed the application and considers it to breach EU Directives on both habitats and nuclear safety. The site is very close to Dungeness nuclear power station, and infringement proceedings under the Pilot Mechanism for the Nuclear Safety Directive are already underway. Louise Barton of LAAG said: “Not a shovel will be put in the ground. This is not going to happen. It’s not needed, not wanted, and considering the nearby nuclear power station, far too dangerous. It would impact one of the most protected environments in the UK.”
National organisations, including CPRE and RSPB, have also heavily criticised the decision given its likely impact on the local environment. AEF considers that the UK already has sufficient runway capacity to allow for the maximum level of passenger growth that could be compatible with our obligations on climate change.
Following the decision an ‘Early day motion’ (no. 1275) was submitted in Parliament:
a.. LYDD AIRPORT EXPANSION
a.. Session: 2012-13 b.. Date tabled: 16.04.2013
c.. Primary sponsor: Lucas, Caroline
d.. Sponsors: Martin Caton, Jeremy Corbyn, Mary Glindon, John McDonnell.
That this House is dismayed by the Government’s decision to approve an extension to Lydd Airport in Kent;
notes that the expansion would destroy the nature and tranquillity of the Kent coast, thereby harming tourism in the surrounding area and the quality of life of many residents;
further notes the view of the Government’s own advisers at Natural England that expansion would be likely to result in very substantial and unmitigated harm to local habitats and wildlife, which are recognised and designated nationally and internationally for their importance and value;
further notes the proximity of Lydd to the nuclear reactors at Dungeness and the serious concerns over public health and safety this raises; is concerned that this decision has not taken account of recommendations on changes to infrastructure planning from the Weightman review of nuclear safety after Fukushima; further notes that aviation expansion at Lydd or elsewhere makes it significantly more difficult to meet carbon budgets;
believes that the overwhelming beneficiary of the expansion will be the multi-millionaire businessman who owns the airport at the expense of local communities, precious habitats, treasured landscapes, public safety and the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change;
further believes that Ministers should cherish the UK’s most important wildlife sites and protect them for future generations rather than allow them to be destroyed for the pursuit of short term profit; and calls on the Government to reverse this harmful and unjustifiable decision.