Bird watchers, politicians, fisherman, environmentalists, yachtsmen and other worried residents join new campaign against Thames Estuary airport
On 10th February, about the coldest night of the winter, around 80 people attended a rousing meeting in Leigh on Sea, to both find out about what proposals for a Thames Estuary airport mean, and join a new campaign against it. Speakers included Keith Taylor (Green MEP); David Amess MP; Peter Wexham, a Southend councillor; George Crozer, an Isle of Grain Parish Councillor; Paul Gilson, a local fisherman, and David Hedges from the RSPB. They covered a wide range of issues relating to the impacts that a massive estuary airport might have, as well as the history of failed proposals in the past. A new campaign group is being set up, gearing itself up for the consultation on estuary airport proposals and also on future UK aviation policy, that starts next month. Another meeting will soon be arranged at Canvey, to grow the campaign there.
Yachtsmen join anti-airport campaign
- 13 Feb 2012 (Yachting Monthly)
- by Dick Durham
Fight against Thames Estuary airport plans
Yachtsmen from Essex and Kent joined politicians, environmentalists, and bird-watchers this weekend to set up a campaign to fight plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary.
More than 80 people turned out on 10 February, the coldest night of the year so far, at Leigh Community Centre in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex to hear six speakers including David Amess MP.
The meeting was chaired by Jon Fuller, a Friends of the Earth environmental campaigner. The gathering was confronted by a screen depicting the Thames Estuary with red aircraft motifs circled over the locations which could be considered likely sites for an airport: two off the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, one over the Maplin Sands near Shoeburyness and two more on the North Kent coast at Grain and Cliffe.
‘They remind me of swastikas,’ one elderly gentleman muttered.
First to speak was George Crozer, a parish councillor from the Isle of Grain in Kent, whose ‘No Airport at Cliffe’ campaign was successful, but who now faces a second battle to prevent architect Norman Foster’s proposal for an airport on the Isle of Grain.
He explained the wrangling over the estuary, as the site for the UK’s premier airport, has a long history. It started in 1947 when both the estuary and Heathrow were considered as suitable locations. Next the estuary was considered as an alternative to Gatwick, then Stanstead, then against an extension to Heathrow and finally, today, as a replacement for Heathrow.
He told the meeting more than 200,000 birds covering seven major migratory routes from the Arctic to North Africa, drop into the North Kent marshes for a stopover making a ‘bird strike’ – an aircraft brought down by ingesting avian flocks in its jet engines – 12 times more likely in the estuary than at any other airport in the UK. He also told the meeting that of the 84 EU designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest for the UK, five are in the Thames Estuary.
Next to speak was Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South-East of England who said Heathrow and its satellites already handle double the flights of Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam and that an estuary airport would affect a 25 mile radius with noise and pollution.
Peter Wexham of the Lib Dems explained that the millions of tons of incoming tide from the North Sea twice every 24 hours which would be diverted by an estuary airport would, over the years, erode the mudflats on the south Essex side of the river ‘and imperil our own safety’ from flooding. He said that if airline operators – who, he said, do not pay duty on aviation fuel – had to compete fairly with other transportation systems the whole idea of an estuary airport would go away.
Next local fisherman, Paul Gilson, estimated construction of an estuary airport would necessitate the dredging of 100 million tons of the sea-bed, for landfill, wrecking the Dover sole nursery in the estuary as well as innumerable sea life habitats.
Mr Gilson also cited some of the costings for the airport: £20 billion for the airport itself, a further £20 billion for an orbital rail link, £6 billion for a new Thames Barrier which would include raising sea walls to even higher levels making Leigh residents live in the shadows of the dike like the polders of Holland.
He also mentioned the elephant in the room – the SS Richard Montgomery – the wartime wreck which lies within five miles of Southend Pier, which is loaded with 1,700 tons of High Explosive. No authority has dared tamper with it since it sank in 1944, for fear of causing a local catastrophe.
David Amess then told the meeting that; ‘It is absolutely barking mad the suggestion that we need an airport in the Thames Estuary.’ He said the money was not available to construct it, that airline carbon dioxide was a ‘massive pollutant’ and that in any case flight paths in the estuary might interfere with Dutch airspace. ‘Every single Essex MP, bar one, is opposed to it and every Kent MP is, too.’
David Hedges for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds ended the meeting announcing the RSPB website already has an online petition in place for anyone who wants to join the fight.
SEAM: South Essex Action for Mammals
One point that wasn’t raised at the public meeting in Leigh was the existence of a very large family of seals which have been the subject of university research in recent weeks. Around 80 seals are regularly seen basking on the mudbank at low tide at Westcliff. The proximity of the proposed airport would frighten them away permanently.
Monitoring of a Colony of Common Seals on the Southend Foreshore …2003
To find out more about the campaign, email
New Essex protest group says no to Boris Johnson’s Thames Estuary airport
11:00am Thursday 9th February 2012
A PROTEST group has been set up to fight against plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary.
No Estuary Airport has organised a public meeting to gather support for their campaign against the huge airport which it says will cause “immense disruption” to people in Southend and south Essex.
Environmental campaigners in Kent and Essex have joined forces to lobby the Government before the public consultation begins in March this year.
Jon Fuller, from South East Essex Friends of the Earth, said the plans should not go ahead.
He said: “We want to kill the scheme before Government contemplates wasting millions of pounds on hugely expensive feasibility studies by private consultants.
“People visiting the town will be severely affected by it.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and architect Lord Foster have promoted separate options for a new South East airport in the estuary.
Mr Johnson’s idea is for a base in the estuary on reclaimed land at Shivering Sands, off the Kent coast near Whitstable.
Mr Foster’s £50billion, four-runway airport off the Isle of Grain, Kent, would cater for about 150 million passengers a year.
Mr Fuller, who lives in Chalkwell, added: “Some people enjoy looking at planes, but very few people go and stand at Heathrow.
“It would have a terrible impact on tourism.”
Residents are invited to the meeting atSouthend Adult Community College in Elm Road, Leigh, this Friday, February 10.
It starts at 7.45pm and there will be speakers from the RSPB, and fishing and environmental groups. Southend West MP David Amess will attend, along with Leigh councillor Peter Wexham.