AN expansion to Lydd Airport would harm birdlife on Romney Marsh says the RSPB.
The conservation group is drawing up battle lines ahead of next week’s public inquiry into the airport’s bid to increase passenger numbers.
The Dungeness peninsula is one of the most important and sensitive wildlife habitats in the UK, says the RSPB, and throughout the consultation process, it has maintained that laws protecting wildlife mean that it is up to the airport to prove that their plans will not damage it.
Sam Dawes, RSPB’s south east conservation manager, said: “Any further development of Lydd airport threatens the ability to protect this special place which provides much needed space for both wildlife and the people who come here to enjoy it.
“The protection levels given to the area highlight its importance both nationally and internationally.
“It is one of the best in Europe for its wildlife and has some of our most spectacular and beautiful habitats. The shingle landscape is home to some unique wildlife and the expanse of coastal wetlands is of European importance for breeding and wintering waterbirds, as well as an important stopover for migrants.
“Last year saw a pair of Bitterns breed successfully at the RSPB’s Dungeness reserve for the first time and the winter of 2010/2011 also saw record numbers of the species. On top of that the reserve hosted the UK’s first ever pair of breeding Purple Herons.
“A larger airport would also degrade the wider environment.
“The RSPB has always argued that an expanded airport in this area is wholly inappropriate. The charity, jointly with Natural England, is a party to the upcoming public inquiry into the expansion proposals.”