European Habitats Legal Opinion in LAAG’s Favour

2.2.2009   (Lydd Airport Action Group – LAAG)

A leading planning barrister, Matthew Horton QC has expressed a legal opinion
in favour of Lydd Airport Action Group’s contention that Lydd Airport’s Master Plan should be taken into account in the assessment (Appropriate Assessment)
which determines the adverse impact Lydd Airport’s expansion plans will have on the European protected habitats that surround
its runway.

 

 

Lydd Airport’s Master Plan sets out the Airport’s long term objectives and states
that the airport plans to grow numbers to 2million passengers per annum (2mppa),
yet Lydd Airport’s planning application was only submitted on the basis of a maximum
of 500,000 passengers per annum.  

 

Under the European laws that govern the relevant sites surrounding the airport
– the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC) which runs along one side of
the runway and the Dungeness to Pett Level Special Protection Area (SPA) which
is located close to the airport’s boundary – the competent authority (in this
case Shepway District Council) must assess all plans in combination to ascertain
the cumulative adverse effects of all development on these sites.

 

 

Mr Horton believes that the Master Plan should be assessed in conjunction with
the planning applications. This means Shepway District Council should base its
assessment of the adverse impacts Lydd Airport’s expansion will have on the above European designated sites on the basis of
2million passengers per annum as opposed to the 500,000 passengers per annum indicated
in its planning application. Currently Lydd Airport handles less than 3000 passengers per annum.

 

 

Matthew Horton’s legal opinion represents part of LAAG’s submission to the European
Commission over Shepway District Council’s infringement of the European Habitats
Regulations (see LAAG press release, December 8th, 2008).

 

 

 

 

Louise Barton

Lydd Airport Action Group

01797 361 548

www.lyddairportaction.co.uk 

 

 

 

Notes to Editors:

 

(1) CV of Matthew Horton QC: http://www.39essex.com/index.php?pro_id=70  

 

(2) Lydd Airport is surrounded by Natura 2000 habitats that are protected by
European legislation to ensure the conservation of precious natural resources
now and for generations to come. The Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
is designated under the Habitats Directive (1992) and the Dungeness to Pett Level
Special Protection Area (SPA) under the Wild Birds Directive (1979). SACs and
SPAs are referred to as European sites. The network of sites across the European
Community is known as Natura 2000.   These directives were transposed into UK law
in 1994 and the resulting legislation commonly referred to as the Habitats Regulations.

 

 (3) An Appropriate Assessment is a requirement of the Habitats Regulations.
Its purpose is to assess the impacts of the plans and projects on internationally
designated nature conservation sites.

 

 (4) Lydd Airport is located less than three miles from the Dungeness Nuclear
Power Complex with a height restriction of 2000ft and less than two miles from
the Lydd Military Ranges (D044) with a height restriction of 4000 ft and eight
miles from the Hythe Military Ranges, (D141) with a height restriction of 3200
ft.

 

 (5) Lydd Airport submitted a planning application in December 2006 (Y06/1647/SH
& Y06/1648/SH) for a 444m extension to its runway and a new terminal to increase
its passenger numbers from <3000 per annum in 2007 to 500,000 passengers per
annum (ppa). This planning application represents Phase1 of the airport’s Master
Plan objective to increase passenger numbers to 2million passengers per annum
(2mppa). Lydd Aiport has completed and submitted two rounds of supplementary environmental
information since December 2006 as the information provided in the original planning
application was inadequate and incomplete. Shepway District Council has requested
a third round of supplementary environmental information from Lydd Airport and
this is expected to be submitted to them in early February. The date of the planning
application’s determination has yet to be determined.

 

(6) LAAG is an action group formed in late August 2004 to oppose the large scale
development of Lydd Airport.   LAAG has 2850 active members.