Airport inquiry to hear public

LOCAL people will finally be able to have their say at the inquiry into controversial proposals to expand Lydd Airport.

It follows five months of evidence being presented and expert witnesses cross examined. Now the public will be able to express their views on Tuesday July 5.

The evening session will be held in New Romney, near Rye, and anyone who would like to speak should contact the Programme Officer on 01303 853542 or email posltd@virginmedia.com

The Inquiry started in February and over 800 objection letters were submitted to the Inspector investigating the proposed expansion of Lydd Airport in Kent, including one from Keith Taylor, Green MEP for Kent and the South East.

Opponents of the expansion say it could damage a sensitive area of Romney Marsh and a nuclear expert raised concerns that the proximity of a large airport to the Dungeness nuclear power station could precipitate a disaster on the scale of Fukushima, in Japan.

The RSPB has maintained that laws protecting Dungeness’s wildlife mean that it is up to the airport to prove that their plans will not damage it.

The Dungeness peninsula is one of the most important and sensitive wildlife habitats in the UK and the RSPB presented evidence on the likely impact of an expanded airport on the important bird populations and the RSPB Dungeness nature reserve.

Sam Dawes, RSPB’s south east conservation manager, said: “This winter we saw record numbers of Bitterns on the reserve and a male has been heard booming this spring so we are keeping a close eye to see if it looks like they are breeding again.

“We have also just opened up a new pebble trail to give families the chance to learn more about the history of the reserve and the areas special landscape.

“We strongly believe an expanded airport would threaten this special place which provides much needed space for both wildlife and the people who come here to enjoy it.”

The Inquiry has been extended and will now run until September. The Inspector will then make his recommendations to Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, who will have the final decision over whether the expansion can go ahead or not.

As well as attending the public meeting, you can ‘Step up for Nature’ as part of the RSPB’s new campaign by supporting a fundraising appeal to raise much needed funds for this and other vital casework.

To find out more about the Fighting Fund go to: http://www.rspb.org.uk/naturefightingfund