Lydd Airport expansion plans given government approval
Plans to expand Lydd airport have been approved by the government following a pubic inquiry. This tiny airport, on Dungeness and close to a nuclear power station, has ambitions to handle half a million passengers per year, and wants an extended runway and a new airport terminal. Shepway District Council gave permission for the expansion in 2010 but the application was called for a public inquiry. Now both Secretaries of State for Communities and Local Government (Pickles) and for Transport (McLoughlin) have approved the development – subject to environmental, noise and traffic conditions. The safety issue of an airport so close to a nuclear facility have not been examined fully or properly at the inquiry. The main opposition group, the Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) has fought tenaciously on the nuclear issue for years, and the European Commission has already started infringement proceedings under the pilot mechanism relating to the Nuclear Safety Directive. The government is also liable to legal challenge due to infringements of the EU Habitats Directive.
Lydd Airport expansion given go-ahead
Plans to expand a Kent airport have been given the go-ahead by the government following a pubic inquiry.
Lydd Airport bosses want a new terminal building and an extended runway to take up to half a million passengers a year.
Opponents said safety fears about the nearby Dungeness nuclear plant had not been addressed.
Shepway District Council gave permission for the expansion plans in 2010 but the government called for a public inquiry.
The £25m project, also known as London Ashford Airport, includes a runway extension of almost 300m (328yds).
Hani Mutlaq, the airport’s executive manager, said the government’s decision was “a victory for common sense and for the people of Romney Marsh”.
The approval is subject to environmental, noise and traffic conditions.
“Once all these have been addressed, we hope to begin the runway construction work as soon as possible,” added Mr Mutlaq.
‘Over 200 jobs’
Andrew Ogden, from the Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The issue of nuclear safety has always been raised.
“This was not examined fully or properly at the inquiry.”
Following the runway and terminal extensions, more than 200 people will be employed, the airport said.
Yvette Austin, the BBC South East’s environment correspondent, said: “The decision can still be challenged.
“The people who are opposed to the development such as the RSPB and CPRE Protect Kent, could go to the High Court.
“They have to do it within six weeks, so we may see more debate and more waiting.”
The government’s approval of the scheme can be seen at: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Lydd-Approval.pdf
Lydd Airport Action Group: Press Release:
April 10th 2013
Lydd Airport development approved by SOSs – legal challenges to follow
The Secretaries of State (SOSs) for Communities and Local Government and Transport have approved the development of Lydd Airport. The planning inspector also recommended approval.
This is despite the development infringing at least two European Directives: the Habitats Directive and the Nuclear Safety Directive – opening the government to legal challenge.
Infringement proceedings under the Pilot Mechanism for the Nuclear Safety Directive are already underway.
· Lydd Airport is owned by Sheikh Fahad al-Athel, a Saudi businessman.
· Lydd Airport submitted a planning application in December 2006 to both extend the runway at Lydd by 444metres and build a new terminal to accommodate up to 500,000 passengers per annum (ppa.). This is Phase 1 of a longer term plan to increases passenger numbers to 2mpppa.
· The airport was unlawfully granted planning permission from Shepway District Council on March 3, 2010. Following over 14,000 letters in protest, the Secretary of State called in the decision for review by a Public Inquiry in June 2010. The public inquiry was conducted from February 15th, 2011 to September 16th, 2011.
During 2012 four additional consultations took place to review new evidence on nuclear safety. This reinforced the body of evidence produced since 2007 which demonstrated that the nuclear regulator’s decision NOT to oppose LyddAirport’s development was flawed.
LAAG is an action group formed in 2004 to oppose the large scale development of Lydd airport. LAAG has ~3000 active members.
Lydd airport expansion: planning advice is ignored over building near nuclear sites
Date added: April 14, 2013
Writing in the Observer, Jamie Doward points out that Ministers have chosen to ignore warnings that residential and commercial property should not be built too close to the UK’s nuclear power plants. Documents released under FoI show that the government rejected advice from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), regarding the lessons to be learned following the Fukushima disaster. The ONR recommended restricting development near nuclear plants, advice that was overridden last week when the government approved the expansion of Lydd. A legal challenge is already underway against this decision. Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) did not wait for the decision by Ministers, as they had anticipated the worst and worked on a case last year. The European Commission accepted the case and has already started infringement proceedings under the pilot mechanism. Environmental NGOs have condemned the government decision to expand Lydd saying any benefits from the airport would be far outweighed by the environmental damage to the area, and expansion would irreversibly damage specially protected areas nearby.
Keith Taylor MEP Dismayed at Government Decision on Lydd Airport
The Green Party’s MEP for the South East has reacted with dismay after the Government approved the expansion of Lydd airport.
Keith Taylor, who has campaigned against airport expansion at Lydd for a number of years, said:
“It’s hugely disappointing that the Government has given the green light for this damaging expansion.
The large number of people that requested a public inquiry into the expansion of Lydd airport shows that there are huge concerns about the impact these proposals would have in terms of the increase in pollution for local residents and the threat to important wildlife.
Dungeness peninsula is one of the most important and sensitive wildlife habitats in the UK. The airport’s expansion will have an impact outside the immediate locality, damaging internationally protected wildlife sites.
“Expansion of services will also increase noise and air pollution and raise greenhouse gas emissions in the area. Such developments would set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the region, and indeed the rest of the UK.
Mr Taylor added:
The expansion also brings with it a serious nuclear safety issue that the government seems to have ignored.
Lydd airport currently caters for largely light aircraft, but the planned expansion would see far larger and heavier planes taking off and landing from the airport on a regular basis. If one of these large aeroplanes were to crash into Dungeness nuclear power station the consequences could be devastating.
This government decision is bad for wildlife, potentially dangerous for local people and a step in the wrong direction in fighting climate change.”
In 2011 Mr Taylor made a wide-ranging speech about the problems he saw with airport expansion at Lydd. This speech can be seen here:
Below are some comments from people local to Lydd:
( full article in This is Kent )
Louise Barton, from Lydd Airport Action Group, said: “Not a shovel will be put in the ground.
“This is not going to happen. It’s not needed, not wanted, and considering the nearby nuclear power station, far too dangerous. It would impact one of the most protected environments in the UK.
“We will pursue every avenue to ensure it does not happen.
Wendy Nevard, of Littlestone, said: “Yet again the views of the ordinary man have been suppressed in favour of the might of deceptive claims about economic gain.
“We will lose far more than we will gain. I’m devastated, but the fight goes on, this isn’t the end.”
Neil Sinden, director of policy and campaigns for the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “This is a terrible decision which threatens one of the few remaining areas of rural tranquillity in heavily pressured South East, and in a county once proudly described as the Garden of England.
“It will not just alarm environmentalists. There were many in the aviation sector who considered this scheme to be nonsensical and a non-starter.
“If there are any economic benefits, which is unlikely, they will be heavily outweighed by the environmental damage that it will cause on so many levels.”
( full article in This is Kent – including very pro-airport reaction from a Shepway councillor etc. who are eager for the 200 jobs that the airport says it will generate )
Lydd Airport expansion plans given government approval
An artist impression shows the runway extension at Lydd Airport, left, and new terminal buildings in light grey, bottom right
Lydd Airport has today been given government approval to expand its runway and build a new terminal.
The airport, on Romney Marsh, wants a 960ft runway expansion for passenger jets and a new terminal building for 500,000 passengers a year.
Its controversial bid for planning permission was first submitted more than six years ago and faced strong opposition by some residents, environmentalists and the RSPB.
A public inquiry ended in September 2011 and it was announced today ministers have agreed with a planning inspector’s recommendation to grant approval for the £25million development.
Airport managers are now seeking a meeting with Shepway District Council planners to tackle any concerns about the environment, noise and traffic.
It is hoped construction work on the runway will be begin soon after.
Damian Collins, who represents Folkestone and Hythe, hailed the approval – which will bring a jobs boost to the area – as “excellent”.
He added: “The expansion allows the runway to be lengthened so flights can be operated over a longer distance.
“At the moment planes are only allowed to fly as far as the south of France, but this will allow flights further into Europe, into Spain and open up a lot more routes.”
But the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the decision will “irreversibly damage the wildlife habitat and beautiful landscape unique to the area”.
And the wildlife charity RSPB branded the decision “shocking” and expressed “profound concern” for the future of the area.
The expansion will see more flights at Lydd Airport
The airport’s owners have already spent £35million over the past decade in modernising the airport, which has operated on the Dungeness peninsula since 1954 and was once one of the busiest airports in the UK – in 1958 it handled 223,000 passengers, which was 37,000 more than Gatwick.
Lydd Airport executive manager Hani Mutlaq said the government’s decision was a “victory for common sense and for the people of Romney Marsh”.
He promised his management team would move ahead as quickly as possible the project that will “create jobs, boost tourism and revitalise a long-standing economic blackspot”.
Mr Mutlaq, pictured right, said: “We submitted our planning applications in December 2006 and it has been a long road to get to where we are today.
“We put forward a compelling case for allowing the controlled development of the airport, and first the local planning authority and now the government has agreed with the overwhelming body of evidence in front of them. The right choice has been made for the future of our community.”
The saga over whether or not to develop the airport has dragged on for as long as six years, but Marsh people had anxiously waited for an answer following the end of months of public inquiry in September 2011.
Groups such as Lydd Airport Action Group have also opposed the development for fear of environmental damage.
Neil Sinden, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the environmental damage outweighs any economic benefits.
He said: “This is a terrible decision which threatens one of the few remaining areas of rural tranquillity in heavily pressured south east, and in a county once proudly described as the Garden of England. And it will not just alarm environmentalists.
“There were many in the aviation sector who considered this scheme to be nonsensical and a non-starter. If there are any economic benefits, which is unlikely, they will be heavily outweighed by the environmental damage that it will cause on so many levels.
“Campaigners are bound to consider all legal options to have this disturbing decision overturned.”
An aerial view of Lydd Airport
RSPB conservation director Martin Harper said: “This is the wrong decision as it opens the door to real damage to Dungeness, to its wildlife and the quality of life for many of its residents and risks destroying a unique asset that is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people.
“Dungeness is a special place for nature which is recognised globally for the importance of its wildlife. This decision means nowhere is safe and signals that nature is in trouble in the face of unfettered growth – these are worrying times for all who care for Britain’s wildlife.
“We will be taking time to review the detail of the decision – and to plan our next steps.”
But Shepway District Council leader Cllr Robert Bliss welcomed the move.
He said: “This vindicates the decision we made in March 2010 to approve the expansion plans. We spent several hours debating all the issues and were aware of the environmental concerns expressed by some parties.
“However, we were confident that any impacts could be mitigated and that the undeniable benefits to the Marsh economy outweighed any environmental impacts.
“As a council we believe that the expansion plans will offer an economic lifeline to the Marsh. The area is losing its power stations at Dungeness and there is no other significant employer waiting in the wings.
“An expanded airport will have the capacity to provide a range of jobs – both directly and indirectly and this must be good for our Marsh community.”
Wednesday, April 10 2013
.3 comments below the article say:
- You do have to think about the risk of an aircraft hijack and terrorism having larger aircraft flying so close to a Nuclear Power Station.It would only be a matter of seconds from a large aircraft straying from its approach/flight path and aiming for Dungeness. There is nothing that would be able to be done in that time to prevent a major incident.
- Legal challenges will now be forthcoming thick and fast from RASP/CPRE / LAAG/ et al on the nuclear issues/ habitats laws and much else.
- Just recently the EU put in a spanner re the Gov not taking the Off’ of Nuclear Safety’s views into account. This may well result in a challenge to the EU as well.It also further shows how completely bogus the Gov’s policies on ‘localism’ are. 3 to 1 local people opposed this and very likely still do.There’s very far from any guarantee that the airport will ever succeeed anyway. It’s too remote and lacks connections. The Marsh is the worse blackspot for road accidents in Kent (incl fatal ones). The rail- line is a non starter- needs £2 million to justify a station and 13 road crossings need upgrading – too expensive.
Even far better situated Manston struggles- the Schipol service is far from proven.
The list is of reasons against Lydd airport expanding is VERY long.
- Frankly if this airport can get the go ahead where the economic case is so marginal yet the environmental case so strong, where is safe?
Go-ahead for Kent airport expansion angers green lobby
Dungeness C: Third nuclear plant can be achieved, says MP
Dungeness A has been decommissioned and Dungeness B is due to stop generating power by 2018 but the local MP said the community backed a new Dungeness C.
Aviation Policy Framework cf. 2003 ATWP
The Lydd application was made, and granted permission, at a time when the 2003 Aviation White Paper was government policy. This policy has now been superseded and instead the UK government published their Aviation Policy Framework in March 2013.
On this point, the decision letter on Lydd airport says:
12. The APF was not before the inquiry but, as a statement of Government policy, the Secretaries of State have taken it into account in their determination of these applications. They have also carefully considered whether or not there should be consultation of parties on the implications of this change to the cases they made to the inquiry. The Secretaries of State have decided that further consultation is not necessary. This is because, while they consider there to be a change in emphasis in aspects of policy relevant to these applications, that change is not significant where London Ashford Airport is concerned. In particular, the APF makes no recommendations either in favour of or against development in the case of any of the existing airports in the UK, including with respect to London Ashford Airport. It expresses the Government’s general support for growth in the aviation sector, but is neutral as to the question of where and when such development should take place.
.Below are some earlier news items about Lydd airport:
UK government risks infringing nuclear safety legislation over Lydd Airport
March 25, 2013 Lydd Airport submitted a planning application in December 2006 for a 444 metre extension to its runway and a new terminal to increase its passenger numbers from below 3,000 in 2005 to 500,000 passengers per annum. It ultimately wants the number to rise to 2 million per year. The planning application was taken to public inquiry in 2011, and since then, a decision has been awaited, from Eric Pickles, Minister at DCLG. However, the issue of the proximity of Lydd airport to the Dungeness nuclear power station has always been a serious problem. The Lydd Area Action Group (LAAG) has challenged the manner in which the nuclear issue has been handled by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). Now LAAG say that should the government approve the development of Lydd Airport without holding the ONR to account on a range of matters and satisfactorily answering the questions put to it by the European Commission, it ultimately faces the possibility of the case being referred to the European Court of Justice. Click here to view full story…
Lydd Airport: Wind turbines, a new airport and an atomic plant threaten historic wetlands
March 24, 2013 Observer article by Jamie Doward.
A decision on whether to allow major expansion of Lydd airport, less than three miles from the Dungeness nuclear power station, may be imminent. It has been delayed for years. The decision will be made by the Sec of State, Eric Pickles. However, there are many issues that make allowing Lydd airport, which is owned by an Arab sheikh, to expand very problematic. First there is the issue of the nuclear power station at Dungeness B, the operators of which (EDF) opposed the application. Many local residents are also opposed to more local wind farms. The battle over the future of Romney Marsh offers a snapshot of the dilemmas facing a government struggling to reconcile job-friendly “grand projects” with commitments to reduce carbon emissions and preserve the integrity of the countryside. Click here to view full story…
Lydd Airport: Nuclear regulator forced to review aircraft crash risk
July 25, 2012 The nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, acknowledges that if a large aircraft were to accidentally crash onto the Dungeness nuclear site it has the potential to cause its most severe ‘Target 9′ accident, killing more than 100 people. Over the last 5 years its rationale for not objecting to the proposed expansion of nearby Lydd Airport is an assertion that the probability of such an accident is low enough to be ignored. This is despite the development introducing larger, heavier planes than the small aircraft which operate from Lydd today. Finally, the ONR now admits that it may have “got it wrong”. As a result it has decided to set up a technical advisory panel to take a grass roots review of the model as well as consider a proposal to introduce a minimum separation policy as the only robust way of managing this large scale accident risk. Click here to view full story…
New report shows the UK nuclear regulator was wrong in not opposing Lydd Airport’s planning application
April 24, 2012 A decision on whether to allow expansion of Lydd airport was due in March 2012 from Eric Pickles, but this has been delayed for an unknown length of time. Meanwhile, the Lydd Airport Action Group has commissioned a new report from a doctor at Imperial College that shows the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was wrong to conclude that the probability of an accident at Dungeness resulting from the introduction of heavy aircraft taking off and landing from Lydd Airport would be so low that it could be ignored. The Imperial College study showed that Dungeness A, which ceased power generation in 2006, would still be a risk if hit by a plane. Dungeness B, which is still working, would be a safety risk, being only 3 miles from the airport, and built before any consideration was given to the risk of a hit by a heavy aircraft. Click here to view full story…
Anger that Inspector’s decision on Lydd airport will not be publicised yet
March 8, 2012 Government inspector Ken Barton chaired the 7-month inquiry into Lydd Airport’s expansion plans in 2011. This probably cost the tax payer up to £250,000. The decision has to be made by 14th March. However, it has been announced that this will not be made public until after ministers Eric Pickles and Justine Greening have made their decision. And there is no deadline by which they have to do so. There is speculation that they may not decide until next year, perhaps because the national aviation policy consultation starts by the end of this month, and this will have a bearing on whether expansion on Lydd is acceptable. There is local anger and frustration that the decision is being kept secret. Click here to view full story…
Lydd Airport. Project runway: carving up the Kent marshes
Decision by Eric Pickles was due in March 2012 (it finally came in April 2013)
February 26, 2012 In a long and comprehensive article in the Observer Magazine, Jamie Doward looks at the issues involved in proposed expansion of Lydd airport, to take up to 2 million passengers – a massive growth from its current, sleepy state with around 1,000 passenger per year. The area is of immense wildlife value, being a NNR, SSSI, SPA and SAC. A decision by government is due in about a fortnight. The article says: ” If Pickles approves the airport’s expansion he will be going against the government’s adviser, Natural England, Shepway’s planning officers, the majority of Lydd’s residents, the scientific consensus on the need to reduce carbon emissions, the prime minister’s perceived green credentials and the coalition’s belief in empowering communities as enshrined in its much-vaunted localism act.” If government does approve it, “The whole character of the place would change because, as studies show, airports lead to urbanisation.” Click here to view full story…
Alleged corrupt payments to Shepway District Councillors for Lydd runway extension
December 29, 2011 Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs Awards 2011″ lists Zaher Deir, former boss of Lydd Airport in Kent, who told a court that unusual spending patterns on his company credit card were accounted for by “gifts” to Shepway councillors who were to determine a planning application for a runway extension. Shepway Green Party and Lydd Airport Action Group are among those demanding a full investigation and the local MP agrees. An inspector is due to rule in March 2012 on whether the runway extension is to be allowed. Click here to view full story…
Public Inquiry ended on 16th September 2011.
Lydd airport says “Lydd Airport ‘could take strain off Gatwick and Heathrow’ “
Call for Lydd Airport expansion inquiry to be extended