The tragedy of Lydd is two-fold. First, given both the Labour and Tory governments’ over-riding obsession with increased infrastructure spending and air-capacity, Lydd’s expansion would have gone ahead regardless of local opposition.
The second is more bizarre. Ferryfield (Lydd) was purpose built in 1954 by Silver City for its channel hopping services leading to the closure of Lympne. But, with its short runways and remote location, Lydd has never been ‘commercially viable’. Attempts to enter the jet-age (without damaging the runway!) led to Silver City’s successors abandoning it in the 1970s. In 1988 Lydd handled 5,800 passengers (3,439 in 1999) but in 2011 it was only 496 passengers - the lowest of all Britain’s airports.
Up the road from Lydd is Manston which, until November, was a fully operational airport with Britain’s second longest, diversionary runway to international standards with a main-line railway station nearby. In 2011 Manston handled 48,540 passengers, plus major cargo contracts - yet it was closed by its asset-stripping owners as they claimed ‘it doesn’t pay’! Oddly, Lydd’s new owners believe with an extended runway they can make Lydd pay!
In this election year surely the most sensible, least costly and environmentally damaging solution is for the government and Lydd’s owners to take over Manston to utilise its huge runway, easing the need for a damaging 3rd London Airport, leaving Lydd as it is? Both Manston and Lydd can easily accommodate profitable industrial development without affecting the runway.
Barry M Jones
Bixley Lane, Beckley