Leader of Swale Borough Council says North Kent would become “strip of tarmac” under airport plans
Swale Council Leader warns that if an airport was built in the Thames Estuary, the area would become a massive house building site. There are not enough houses to accommodate people moving to the area for jobs at the proposed hub. “We would have to tarmac over the whole of north Kent to provide housing.”
By Marijke Cox, Reporter (Kent News)
February 7, 2012
Leader of Swale Borough Council condemns Thames Estuary airport proposals
Swale’s town hall leader has warned that north Kent would become a strip of tarmac for housing if plans for a Thames Estuary airport were given the green light. [Swale is part of Sittingbourne, south of Grain. Map ]
Cllr Andrew Bowles said while he accepted the economic impact a new airport could have on the area, he stressed there were not enough houses to accommodate people moving to the area for jobs at the proposed hub.
“If you look at employment numbers you need to encompass how many new houses would be needed,” he said.
“We would have to tarmac over the whole of north Kent to provide housing.”
A formal consultation is being held by the government, starting next month, looking at future UK aviation – including controversial proposals for a hub airport in the Thames Estuary.
London Mayor Boris Johnson backs the idea for an estuary airport and architect Lord Foster has developed proposals for a four-runway transport hub to replace Heathrow on the north Kent coast.
Cllr Bowles, who is against the plans, welcomed the consultation.
“I’m pleased it is going ahead. If the government had made a decision without having a consultation there is every possibility along the line that flaws would have been found.”
He stressed that any operation in the Thames Estuary was too expensive and environmentally damaging.
“Everyone will respond to this consultation,” he said.
“All the time there is expansion in air travel it (the Thames Estuary) will be spoken about. But I’m increasingly coming across more and more people who are choosing not to holiday abroad.
“For example, there’s increasing difficulty of getting though airports due to increased security.”
Kent County Council also welcomed the consultation, stating it would “put an end to speculation”.
Deputy leader at County Hall Cllr Alex King said: “Building a new airport on land or sea in the Thames Estuary will cause significant environment problems, and the case has not been proven that this is the correct solution to the issue.
“KCC is very pleased that there will be a consultation on the proposed Thames Estuary airport to give everybody interested an opportunity to have their say on record and to put an end to speculation.”
Plans put forward involve an airport being built on partly reclaimed land and on either an island or peninsula.
Environmentalists, Medway Council and north Kent MPs including Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson, and Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, are against the proposals.