Keith Taylor, Green MEP on Lydd airport: We must look at fate of Manston and think again
Keith Taylor MEP says the Lydd airport area, in his European constituency, could be revived in a way to generate jobs and green growth – but not by expanding the airport or using it for yet more holiday flights. He is concerned about the low, and declining, number of airport jobs generated by ultra-low-cost flights, and that better employment could be generated on the site, with lower carbon emissions. Keith says the arguments for Lydd Airport expansion centres on an economic case that simply doesn’t stand up. In reality, Lydd’s remote position, and relatively inaccessible by public transport, means it already faces a competitive disadvantage compared with Gatwick. He says: “With the nuclear power station at Dungeness on its last legs, I believe it’s time to turn the peninsula into a green energy zone. I’d like to see schemes like the Marsh Millions built on to offer local green business incentives to set up shops in the area, and provide people with jobs to build a life on.” Lydd could be at the forefront of a new economic model, of economies refocused on tackling climate change.
- AGAINST EXPANSION: Keith Taylor MEP at Dungeness
IT looks likely that Manston Airport will be shut down. It hasn’t seen the increased demand anticipated by management, and may well set a precedent for Lydd, another of the southeast’s smaller airports.
The arguments for Lydd Airport expansion centres on an economic case that simply doesn’t stand up.
Airport bosses, who are desperate to lengthen Lydd’s runway and expand the terminal building, claim that an improved airport will be good for jobs.
Sadly for the people of Shepway, the reality is that jobs at an expanded airport are likely to be few and far between. Lydd’s remote position, relatively inaccessible by public transport, means it already faces a competitive disadvantage compared with an airport like Gatwick.
But other factors also suggest that the airport won’t be the huge source of jobs proponents claim.
For starters, there’s a worrying trend in airports across the UK: the number of jobs generated by the airline industry is falling. As super low-cost travel has spread, the check-in process has become increasingly mechanised and jobs at airports are being shipped out to private contractors.
The belief that a Lydd expansion will create jobs is underpinned by an assumption that the number of people flying will endlessly increase. But, once again, it seems airport bosses are guilty of wishful thinking.
Since 2003, government forecasts for the number of people flying have been revised down four times. Indeed, the UK has enough airport capacity to cope with a 60 % growth in demand; as such, Lydd expansion cannot be depicted as a response to a lack of supply in the face of overwhelming demand.
On top of the shallowness of arguments for expansion, it’s worth looking closely for a moment at the threats that come with Lydd expansion.
For me, as a Member of the European Parliament for the region, my number one priority is the people who live in my constituency. That’s why these plans, which will see larger jets flying closer to people’s homes and to a local school, are so worrying.
On top of the threat of increased noise and air pollution, is the potential devastation that this expansion could bring to the RSPB’s wonderful Dungeness nature reserve.
It’s clear to me that Lydd Airport shouldn’t be expanded, but should be replaced with something more beneficial for the community.
Shutting down the airport might sound radical, but with decent jobs becoming increasingly scarce in the industry, and with airport noise posing a major health threat, it’s wrong to assume that expansion can provide what the community needs.
With the nuclear power station at Dungeness on its last legs, I believe it’s time to turn the peninsula into a green energy zone. I’d like to see schemes like the Marsh Millions built on to offer local green business incentives to set up shops in the area, and provide people with jobs to build a life on.
Only this week, the UN spelled out the desperate need for countries to refocus economies on tackling climate change – I believe that the Lydd area could be at the forefront of this.
For me, the argument against airport expansion at Lydd, and indeed for the closing down of the airport, is a hopeful one.
We need to oppose airport expansion because we value clean air for our children, and because we believe that we can create well-paid skilled jobs for people in the area.
I hope that politicians of all parties can get together to think of ways to build the local economy without relying on precarious jobs at an airport that’s unlikely to take off.
Do you agree? E-mail eleanor.jones@KRNmedia.co.uk
Lydd airport has appointed a consultant for its expansion, but result of 2 legal challenges still awaited
April 4, 2014
Lydd airport has put out a press release, giving the impression that it is already getting on with building its 294 metre runway extension (plus a 150m starter extension). However, in reality, it has merely appointed some consultants. The airport is still waiting the result of the legal appeal against its planning application. There were two separate legal challenges against the application; one from the RSPB and one from the local community group, LAAG. If the appeal of either is accepted by the judge, the planning consent could be quashed. If that were the case, and one appeal won, the planning application has to be re-determined on the subject matters under question. Lydd is saying it has appointed Capita to design and manage its runway extension. Capita helped design Crossrail, and its job at Lydd would be to provide project, cost, construction and design management services for the airport as well as civil and aviation design services. Lydd says it is nearing completion of a number of pre-commencement conditions required to enable planning permission for the runway extension to be implemented.
High Court hearing ended on 27th January 2014
The hearing is over. The timing of the judgement is unknown – it could take weeks or months. It depends on the Judge’s workload.
It only takes one party to be successful to quash the Secretaries of States’ decision – i.e. LAAG or the RSPB. If both parties lose their appeals, the airport’s development goes ahead, although it is possible that a qualified judgement(s) could ultimately lead to further restrictions on the airport.
The judge has no power to make a decision about the case itself. His role is to rule on the soundness of the government’s decision. If it is unsound and the decision is overturned, it must be re-taken. The mechanics of this are still not clear – whether this will be undertaken in the form of another public inquiry to re-examine the issue(s) at fault, or via consultation.
Legal challenge against Lydd airport expansion plans at the High Court by RSPB and LAAG. 21st to 27th January 2014
RSPB on 21st and 22nf. LAAG on 23rd and 24th
January 21, 2014
A legal challenge to the decision to allow expansion at Lydd in Kent is being heard on 21st and 22nd January, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. A public inquiry was held into the applications by Lydd Airport in 2011 at which the RSPB raised concerns about the impact an expansion would have on the nearby protected wildlife area of Dungeness. The inspector found in favour of the airport’s proposals – and his report was subsequently endorsed by the Secretaries of State for Communities and Local Government and for Transport. After careful consideration the RSPB issued a legal challenge to the final decision based on the inspector’s report. The RSPB believes the stakes are too high to risk the future of one of the UK’s best and most important places for nature without testing the basis for this decision which they consider to be flawed. Dungeness is one of the most important wildlife sites in the world and it is protected at global, European and UK levels. It is home to many threatened species and is also a crossroads for migrating birds stopping off on migration. The Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) have a separate appeal which will be heard after that of the RSPB. They have concerns about the airport’s proximity to the nuclear power station. LAAG did not want to disclose further details of its case until the court hearing.