Reacting to news today that Shepway District Council has approved the planned expansion of Lydd Airport (1), Kent's Green Euro-MP and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said:
"By approving Lydd Airport's reckless plans to build a new terminal and extend its runway by almost 300m, councillors have completely ignored the advice of planning officers who recommended they refuse the application – and turned a blind eye to the genuine concerns of local residents.
"That Shepway councillors also allegedly changed the constitutional rules to enable Michael Howard MP to address the crucial planning meeting in favour of expansion speaks volumes about the inherent bias that we’ve seen in the process from the start.
"It beggars belief that the managing director of Lydd Airport is describing this decision as ‘a victory for the people of Shepway’. Residents and campaigners have long warned that expansion at Lydd could have grave consequences for the local environment and their quality of life."
Lucas continued: "It is not difficult to imagine the impact of an extra 500,000 passengers a year using the poor local transport infrastructure, not to mention the inevitable increase in aircraft noise, disturbance and air pollution that an enlarged facility will bring.
"Indeed, a planning officer's report released in February expressed concern about the impact of noise on local residents, and said that the runway extension could have a detrimental effect on valuable conservation areas.
“The Dungeness to Pett Levels Special Protection Area (SPA), designated for its internationally important bird populations, and Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC), designated for its great crested newt populations and rare shingle habitat, could be particularly at risk. These designations represent the highest level of legal wildlife habitat protection available in Britain.
"What's more, the large numbers of birds in Dungeness make this a high bird strike risk area. Around 90,000 gulls are known to roost near to the airport on Romney sands."
She concluded: "At a time of ongoing debate over aviation and its effect on global warming, and the growing realisation that unchecked economic growth is not improving our wellbeing or quality of life, Shepway councillors should be taking their responsibilities seriously and creating a more sustainable environment for local people."
Notes to Editors