Newsletter 4 Q3 2005
Latest News: Dungeness Power Station - Risk of Aircraft Damage
Restrictions around nuclear power stations are set out in the Air Navigation (Restriction of Flying) (Nuclear Installations) Regulations 2002. All operative nuclear power stations have an over-flying flight restriction height set at 2000ft or above and a flight restriction radius for fixed wing aircraft of 2.0 nautical miles. Special dispensations apply at Dungeness to aircraft taking off and landing at Lydd Airport. Firstly, all aircraft taking off and landing at Lydd Airport can fly to a radius of 1.5 nautical miles of Dungeness. Secondly, there is a further limited dispensation which allows flights within 1.0 nautical mile of the nuclear power station and is designed to give a degree of leeway to pilots under training.
LAAG is lobbying to have the 1.0 nautical mile dispensation withdrawn and a weight restriction applied to the 1.5 nautical mile dispensation so that planes such as the Boeing 737 will be required to conform to the standard 2.0 nautical mile exclusion zone. Our justification for this action is that the proposed expansion at Lydd Airport constitutes change of airport use. The frequent use of large passenger aircraft raises the risk of accidents since Boeing 737 aircraft will be taking off and landing close to the Dungeness power station.
The danger ahead was starkly highlighted by a near accident at Dungeness A on Saturday July 2nd when a light aircraft in misty weather contravened the 1.5 nautical mile restriction zone and flew dangerously close to the station. This incident occurred at a time when activity at Lydd Airport is at a low level.
Latest News: Airport Ownership
LAAG has revealed from a detailed analysis of the annual statutory returns of companies associated with Lydd Airport that Sheikh Fahad al Athel is the overseas investor who acquired a controlling interest in the airport in 2001 for £4.1m. The Sheikh owns 70% of Lydd Airport and 100% of Lydd Golf Club which is adjacent to the airport. The share stakes are held via two non resident holding companies, Lydd Holdings Ltd (British Virgin Islands) and FAL Holdings Ltd (Riyahd) Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Fahad al Athel is a successful and wealthy Arabian business man who has also acted as an intermediary between the Saudi Arabian government and Western Defence companies on major arms contracts and was an associate of the discredited former Cabinet Minister, Jonathan Aitken.
Progress to Date and Planning Considerations
Lydd Airport claims that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which must accompany the planning application remains on track for completion by August “or there abouts”. 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.
There are other planning considerations related to planning policy at regional and county level. Both the South East England Regional Assembly’s (SEERA’s) plan (the South East Plan) and the Kent and Medway Structure Plan have pro development policies each supporting growth in passenger numbers up to 2mppa. In the case of the latter it is the Inspector who recommended that the 2mppa be included in the policy for Lydd Airport.
LAAG has mounted two separate letter writing campaigns to oppose this pro development stance and to ensure that the planning framework is acceptable. It is too early to say whether we have been successful in moderating these policies but KCC officers have recommended to the Cabinet and Full Council that the inspector’s recommendations should be over-ruled and that the 2million passenger per annum target should be excluded from the policy statement. This is a positive development for although the substitute policy still supports development at Lydd Airport it is not as aggressively worded and has some tough conditions attached. Once the KCC Cabinet and Full Council have signed off the changes (Full Cabinet meets July 22nd) there is then another consultation - on the changes to policies only - and we believe there is scope to strengthen the conditions associated with permitted development at the Airport. Another letter writing campaign! As for the SEERA, the process is more protracted. There are a number of key dates coming up when the SEERA Executive meet to discuss policies. We might know whether or not we have been successful this month, but if the answer is not revealed, we will be forced to wait until March 2006. However, in reality the KCC drive SEERA policy for Lydd Airport so that if a more acceptable complexion is given to the KCC policy statement, there is a strong possibility that SEERA will follow.
LAAG continues to refine the flight path maps - both incoming and outgoing. We now have route maps of likely popular destinations. These show that many towns on Romney Marsh and its surrounds will be directly affected by aircraft noise including Hythe, Folkestone and Rye and Winchelsea. The maps can be viewed here.
What is LAAG Doing?
Our main aim continues to be raising awareness through meetings, leafleting, advertising and instigating letter writing campaigns. We continue to present to councils and societies. Since our last newsletter we have made presentations to the Winchelsea, Lympne and Aldington Annual Parish Meetings and we spoke at the AGM of the Rother Environmental Group. We have had two more LAAG members-only meetings, another one at the Lydd Community Hall and one at Dymchurch Village Hall with over 200 people at each meeting. We have a meeting at Rye Community Centre at 7.30pm on July 22nd with other meetings on Romney Marsh to follow. Pressure on councillors continues to be exerted - parish, town, district and county - and on other personalities who we believe could help our cause. LAAG now has over 1500 members and many reside outside the Shepway district. Romney Marsh attracts many people particularly those drawn by tranquil environments, birds and unusual flora and fauna. Most are horrified by the proposed expansion of Lydd Airport and have joined LAAG to vigorously oppose the proposed development.
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