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Newsletter 3 Q2 2005

Latest News: Passenger Jet Flight Paths

The recent presentations by the management of Lydd Airport on their large scale expansion plans have thrown further light on jet passenger flight paths and have met our worst fears with regard to noise and air pollution on Romney Marsh, assuming the 300m runway extension is approved. 

The airport has indicated that the ILS (Instrument Landing System) will have a 3.5 degree glide path rather than the normal 3 degree glide path. As a result  jet aircraft will descend faster at 370 feet per nautical mile (1 nautical mile equals 1.15 miles) but will still be within the Hythe ranges exclusion zone height of 3200 feet - increased from 2000 feet in 2002.(Note, Hythe ranges are 7 nautical miles from Lydd airport.) 

Hence the in-coming flight path will start as far out as Lympne and Saltwood and then follow a line inland of the Hythe ranges, passing over the sandy beaches of Dymchurch (1700 ft) and St Mary’s Bay (1200ft) then down the 18th fairway of Littlestone Golf course before passing over the residential areas of Littlestone and Greatstone at less than 600 feet 

Jet aircraft taking off from Lydd are restrained by a 4000ft flight height restriction over Lydd ranges (increased from 3200 feet in 2002) and the 2000ft flight restriction over the Dungeness nuclear power station complex. This means jet passenger aircraft taking off from Lydd Airport will take a sharp right turn immediately after being airborne to avoid the Lydd ranges and the Dungeness power station complex and pass directly over the town of Lydd at less than 1500ft. Some relief from noise and air pollution will take place at night when the Lydd Ranges are not operational enabling jet aircraft to fly over this area.  

The proposed flight paths for 737 series jet passenger aircraft will affect thousand of homes over Romney Marsh and surrounding areas. There will be additional noise and air pollution from the one million extra car journeys on Romney Marsh necessary to transport 2 million passengers per annum to and from the airport.         

Progress to Date and Planning Considerations

At the recent Airport Public Meetings (April 26th & April 29th) management revealed that by Spring 2005 the Airport will have spent £7m on Phase One of the development which includes the resurfacing and strengthening of the existing runway, the creation of 13 acres of aprons, the resurfacing of the approach road and the demolition of some parts of the old terminal. The second phase of the development consists of the construction of a new terminal and the 300 metre extension of the runway. This will require a formal planning application. The Environmental Impact Assessment which must accompany this planning application commenced in December and it was revealed at the meetings that this will be completed by August 2005. We believe the airport will file a planning application in September/October in order to fulfill its ambition to be operational by the summer of 2006. At the meetings it was also revealed that the Airport has recently filed a planning application for a 75 room hotel on Lydd golf course (ref Y05/0553/SH see Shepway District Council website). 

There are other related planning considerations. The South East England’s Regional Assembly’s (SEERA’s) plan (the South East Plan) is undergoing extensive consultation. This body sits above the Kent County Council and Shepway District Council in planning law and in the future will give statutory regional planning guidance. The policy statement in the South East Plan in relation to Lydd Airport currently supports development up to 2million passengers per annum (2mppa). Likewise the Inspector has recommended for the Kent Structure Plan, which is also being revised, that Kent County Council (KCC) should include development of Lydd Airport up to 2mppa in its Lydd policy statement. We have already attacked the pro development stance of the SEERA South East plan in a recent letter writing campaign - thank you all for writing, we believe SEERA received hundreds of letters from LAAG members - and we are about to embark on a similar exercise with the KCC. This exercise is even more important than our letter writing campaign to SEERA as the KCC, for various historical reasons, has determined SEERA’s policy in relation to Lydd Airport. Further, incorrect flight path information has influenced the Inspectors decision - both take off and landing flight paths have hitherto been portrayed out to sea, therefore giving the impression that very few people will be affected by development. Indeed the Inspector’s report (Kent and Medway Structure Plan Panel Report) states “Noise is not a problem, as much of aircraft climb is in and out over the sea and not over residential areas.” Clearly this is not the case. Template letters for this campaign will be distributed soon.   

What is LAAG Doing?

Raising awareness continues to be our main objective and we remain focused on creating as much dialogue as possible with the community. Since our last newsletter we have distributed 10,000 leaflets, taken full page advertisements in the Herald and presented at council and other meetings - Dymchurch, Hamstreet and Brookland Parish Councils, New Romney Town Council, The Sandgate Society, and the Kent Association of Parish Councils. We have also maintained an intense letter writing campaign to councillors in Shepway and the main Romney Marsh towns, key KCC councillors and other personalities who we believe could help our cause.  Our first LAAG members meeting was held on April 13th and we intend to make these meetings a regular feature in the future. Lydd Airport’s proposed development is now creating wider media interest which will help to raise the profile of the issue. In addition, two highly reputable and effective conservation bodies, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have publicly voiced their opposition to the large scale development of the airport. In a press statement made by the RSPB on April 14th, Chris Corrigan, RSPB regional director for South East England said, “Trying to site an international airport next to an internationally important area for birds is just ludicrous. We have already been through the arguments when ensuring that the Cliffe Airport never got off the ground. Birdstrike is just one of the issues that was well publicised in the campaign against the Cliffe Airport proposals and the same problems would arise here.”  

                                  SAVE ROMNEY MARSH


LAAG does not charge a subscription for annual membership but if you would like to make a voluntary donation to LAAG to help cover operational costs please make cheques payable to LAAG.  

Louise Barto
The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX
01797 361 548