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Local Kent Airport Expansion To Go Ahead

A judge has dismissed a legal challenge to the planned expansion of Kent's Lydd airport.

Lydd airport is situated close to the coast, and makes a convenient destination for passengers willing to take a train the rest of the way into London. The official site also notes that they offer private helicopter rides, but these might not be quite so suitable for everyday travel. The airport is also known as London Ashford Airport at Lydd.

Lydd is in between the towns of Folkestone and Ashford, towards the very south of Kent. As such, it's not situated next door to where we are in Medway towns Kent, but it's close enough to be a local issue for us.

The High Court has dismissed two appeals to stop the proposed development, meaning that planning permission for a two hundred and ninety-four (294) metre runway extension and five hundred thousand (500,000) person capacity terminal expansion will stand, at least for now.

Opposition To Kent Airport Extension

Entering Lydd

Entering Lydd by David Howard

Opposition to the extension and expansion of the airport seems to have come from a number of quarters.

The two-pronged challenge in this case came from the Lydd Airport Action Group and the RSPB, neither group succeeding in convincing the presiding judge.

The LAAG approached the case as a matter of logistics, safety, and local quality of life - claiming that the proximity of the nuclear power station at Dungeness and the urbanisation of the surrounding rural area means that it's a dangerous move. The LAAG use a similar slogan to British activists Plane Stupid and Irish activists Plane Mad, "Plane Crazy", but it's unlikely that they have ties to either group. They've had some support from the local press, but the national press has tended to remain on the fence so far.

Meanwhile, the RSPB approached the case as a simple matter of preservation of valuable countryside and species.

Neither approach swayed Mr Justice Ousley, especially following in the wake of the closure of Manston airport just the day before.

Mr Justice Ousley concluded that there was "no likelihood of a significant effect" on the nearby bird habitats, and that although there would be "some increase in risk" due to proximity to Dungeness, the Office for Nuclear Regulation or ONR had reassured him that the increase in risk was negligible.

Manston Airport

The closure of Manston airport looks likely to make Lydd airport a new hub for national and international travel to Kent. The question on local lips is whether the demand is there, and if it is there whether the demand will actually benefit people from the area.

Local concerns extend beyond questions of what is legal, to quality of life. Noise pollution (and actual pollution) are on the agenda, and one local politician has questioned whether the airport will actually bring the jobs that have been promised.

The closure of Manston airport makes Lydd's expansion even more likely, at the same time as it highlights the risk of failure.

Support From Local Council

In general, local politicians have been in favour of the development, voting 27 to 12 in favour of granting planning permission, despite a recommendation against it.

It has been a controversial project from the outset, however, with Eric Pickles wading in to the fray to overrule the councillors' initial decision (all the way back in 2011) and start a public inquiry which lasted until April 2013.

The RSPB have not ruled out taking the case to the Court of Appeal at the time of writing.

What do you think about Lydd airport? For or against? Let us know on Twitter at @planning_lawyer!