Protest as Lydd airport inquiry into runway extension and new terminal starts

15.2.2011 (BBC)

Lydd Airport
The new terminal would replace the 1950s building currently on the site

Protests are being held as a public inquiry into plans to build a new terminal
building and extend the runway at a Kent airport gets under way.

Campaigners against the expansion of Lydd airport say it will bring noise pollution
and damage wildlife in one of the South East’s most tranquil sites.

But business leaders back the plans, which they say will bring jobs to an area
desperately needing regeneration.

The inquiry, expected to last 13 weeks, is at Shepway Civic Centre, Folkestone.

After being formally opened on Tuesday, it will be adjourned for the rest of
the week to allow site visits.

The £25m expansion plan was approved by Shepway District Council in March 2010
after a seven-hour meeting.

New terminal

The airport’s owners say they want to build a modern regional airport on the
Romney Marsh.

“The numbers of planes we are talking about are four landings and four take-offs
a day and we have given a guarantee that we are not going to be flying at night,”
said senior air traffic controller Tim Maskins.

“We hope that the local community will find that the intrusion on their lives
will not be nearly as bad as some have feared.”
Lydd Airport aerial view
The airport expansion scheme was approved by the Tory-run council in March 2010

The new terminal would replace the existing 1950s building. As well as a runway
extension of almost 300m (328yds), the council approved a 150m (164yds) apron
for aircraft to be parked, loaded and boarded.

Those for the development include two groups of local businesses and the Channel
Chamber of Commerce. Those against include the RSPB, Protect Kent and Natural

The RSPB said the Dungeness peninsula was one of the most important and sensitive
wildlife habitats in the UK.

“Any further development of Lydd airport threatens the ability to protect this
special place which provides much needed space for both wildlife and the people
who come here to enjoy it,” said south east conservation manager Sam Dawes.

But Philip Carter, chairman of Shepway Economic Regeneration Partnership said:
“You have to choose whether you are picking for the people and the jobs or the
pebbles and the newts.

“People are looking for jobs and redevelopment.”

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see also


A very biased, and slightly unrealistic, press release from the PR agents used
by Lydd Airport, called Edwards Harvey

They say:   “This release provides an overview of the long-running attempt by
the airport owners to spend tens of millions of pounds on developing Lydd – once
one of the busiest airports in Europe – into a modern regional airport capable of handling some of the expected growth
in air travel in South East England.  
The project will also create hundreds of jobs in the process – vital in an area
where thousands of jobs are to go with the closure of drug company Pfizer.



A public inquiry into the development of Lydd Airport in
Kent begins on Tuesday 15 February, and is scheduled to last for 21 weeks. At stake is an ambitious plan to invest
£25 million to create a modern regional airport on the Romney Marsh site, providing
hundreds of jobs and sparking the economic regeneration of an unemployment blackspot.

The owners have already spent £30m in upgrading facilities at an airport which
was once one of the busiest in Europe . To complete the transformation, a runway extension is needed and a new terminal
building is planned to replace the existing 1950s terminal.

On 3 March 2010, after a seven-hour debate, councillors at Shepway District Council
voted by 27 to 12 to allow the construction of a 294m runway extension plus a
150m starter extension and a new terminal able to handle up to 500,000 passengers
a year.

In June the Government overruled the council’s decision and arranged a public
inquiry. The plans have the backing of many residents and business groups, while opposition
is being voiced by other residents, Natural England and the RSPB.

Lydd Airport ’s Jo Oliver said that over the past five years they had been working with major stakeholders to address
environmental concerns and a huge amount of progress has been made.
“We believe Lydd Airport has a compelling case to convince the Government that our applications should
be granted,” she added.

The inquiry takes place at Shepway Council’s Civic Centre in Folkestone. Dozens
of witnesses will give evidence on issues including ornithology, ecology, noise,
nuclear safety and socio-economic considerations. The inquiry is scheduled to
last until mid-July.

There follows an outline of some of the main socio-economic reasons behind Lydd Airport ’s submission to the public inquiry. (from the Airport’s PR consultants)


Lydd Airport and
UK aviation policy

Current policy is on the side of Lydd. The Future of Air Transport White Paper 2003, along with the Future of Air Transport Progress Report 2006, remain the current policies towards the development of airports. [2003 ATWP is now widely recognised as being out of date].  Following cancellation of the new runway projects at Heathrow and Stansted,
any new aviation policy from by the Government will not be in place before 2013
at the earliest.


Development of Lydd would be consistent with existing Government policy on airports
as it would enable Lydd to meet local demand, thereby reducing the need to travel
on the congested road network to other more distant
London airports. [Gatwick airport is not far away, with plenty of capacity and its own massive
expansion ambitions].


The valuable role which could be played by the smaller regional airports within
the South East, including Lydd, is explicitly supported within the Future of Air Transport White Paper, subject to environmental considerations.


Development of Lydd has the potential to contribute to regeneration of the area
within Shepway and further afield. The airport is specifically identified in the
policies and regeneration frameworks for Kent and Shepway as having a role to
play in economic regeneration, both through creating jobs and providing a wider
stimulus to growth.


Shepway’s economy is characterised by slow economic growth, high unemployment
and long-term contraction of established local industries. The prospects for the
area are worsened by the closure of Dungeness A and B nuclear power stations.


Current airport operations

Lydd currently handles around 22,000 aircraft movements a year, mainly by small
aircraft. Activities include LyddAir scheduled services to Le Touquet, general
and business aviation activities and aircraft maintenance.


There are 72 people employed here, with 48 working for London Ashford Airport


Despite recent investment of £30 million in improving facilities, Lydd has been
unable to attract airlines to start commercial passenger services mainly because
of the short length of the existing runway, which is too short for operations
by medium sized jets used on charter and low fares services. Even for regional
scheduled services, the aircraft types which could use the existing runway are
being phased out.


The existing terminal is only able to handle smaller aircraft loads, up to no
more than 100 passengers a flight. With modification, it will allow medium sized
jet aircraft of up to 189 seats to be handled one at a time.


With an extended runway, a new terminal would be required to enable Lydd to handle
more than 300,000 passengers per annum. Given the limitations on handling more
than one flight at a time in the old terminal, it will be desirable for the new
terminal to be available before this airport reaches a throughput of 300,000 passengers
a year. [4 planned taking off and 4 landing per day, if each had 80 passengers on board,
would be 233,600 passengers per year].


In the absence of this development, ongoing operational losses at Lydd will need
to be addressed, either by cutting back operations and costs or by seeking to
exploit to the maximum extent possible, the 24 hour capabilities of the existing
runway. This is likely to involve the attraction of night freight operations and
additional heavy maintenance work.


The market for Lydd Airport / potential destinations

Total air travel demand in
and East Sussex amounted to 4.5 million air passengers in 2009 according to CAA Survey data;
of which 2.5 million passengers were within the local catchment area of Lydd.
In preparing demand forecasts, we’ve grown this market potential from current
levels using the latest growth rates advised by the Department for Transport,
while reflecting the impact of the recession on national demand growth.


In the Lower Growth scenario, 300,000 passengers per annum would be reached in
2023 and half a million passengers per annum in 2028. In the event of continued
capacity constraint at other
London airports, passenger growth here will be even quicker.


We’ve considered the top 40 destinations by volume in 2009 as having the potential
to be viably served from this airport. We’ve taken a conservative approach to
assessing how much of this market Lydd might attract on any given route, having
regard to the expected development of routes in parallel from Manston Airport .


We expect that charter airlines, for which an extended runway will be essential,
will be attracted to operate initially low frequency seasonal services from Lydd.
Once the airport’s ability to attract passengers to these services had been proven,
we expect a small network of regional scheduled services to develop to points
such as
Edinburgh .


In time additional charter services would be operated along with some services
to European cities, such as
Madrid serving business and leisure needs.


The socio-economic impact of the proposed developments

With the extended runway and the airport handling 300,000 passengers a year,
the operation of Lydd Airport itself will support 130 direct and 70 indirect jobs.


With the addition of a new terminal and the airport handling 500,000 passengers
a year, the operation of Lydd Airport itself will support between 200 and 210 direct jobs and 100 indirect jobs.


Lydd will also contribute to attracting additional tourist visits to the area,
which could amount to between 3% and 9% of total passengers. These inbound tourist
visits would themselves support additional local employment in the range of 33
to 96 jobs.

For more information visit 


Lydd Airport history: 

Silver City Airways launched a cross-Channel car and passenger air ferry in 1948
from Lympne to Le Touquet. By 1953, Lympne could no longer cope with the volume of traffic and another airport
was needed. Work started in January 1954, and in six months Lydd was open for
business. Two runways had been built plus a two-storey terminal building at a
cost of £320,000.

Within ten years Lydd had grown to become one of the Europe ’s busiest airports. It became a popular centre for rich holidaymakers who wanted
to take their cars and family to Europe . Lydd also became a gateway to
Britain for thousands of continental visitors. Daily flights linking Lydd with Le Touquet
prospered and in 1958 the airport handled 223,000 passengers, which was 37,000
more than Gatwick. The growth of the ferry market from
Dover undermined the business and the service declined during the 1970s.


Jeff Sims and Leah Taylor at Edwards Harvey PR on 01622 604600 or /







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