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Newsletter 5 Q4 2005

Latest News: New Scoping Opinion Reveals Further Extension of Runway Planned

The revised Scoping Opinion for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the large scale development of Lydd Airport was published by Shepway District Council on December 19th, 2005. This more comprehensive document which is 110 pages in length, replaces the previous inadequate Scoping Opinion published in November 4th, 2004 (12 pages). The new document reveals that Lydd Airport plans to extend the existing 1505metres runway by 444metres to 1949metres compared to the 294metres extension proposed in the previous Scoping Opinion. This runway extension will enable fully loaded Boeing 737 aircraft to operate with an extended range and will increase the aircraft noise disturbance for residents in Greatstone and Lydd-on-Sea. The extended runway will be 500metres from the Greatstone Primary School.  

LAAG welcomes the greater depth and wider subject matter covered by the Scoping Opinion but believes the importance of the nuclear safety case has not been fully recognised given the number of flights (4000 passengers in 2004 rising to 2million passengers per annum) and the weight of aircraft proposed (<5tonnes now rising to 70tonnes).  

Background to Revised EIA: Lydd Airport has been forced to delay its planning application from the October/November 2005 to 2006 since the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which must accompany the planning application, was deemed inadequate. This meant a new Scoping Opinion needed to be produced by Shepway District Council (SDC). (The Scoping Opinion sets out the variables that the EIA should cover.) 

To clarify the procedure in setting the variables for the EIA - in August 2005 Lydd Airport’s advisors, Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) submitted a draft Scoping Opinion to Shepway District Council (SDC) which set out the variables they intended to cover. SDC used this as the basis of its Scoping Opinion, adding its own input and the views of third parties. Last year only English Nature (EN) and the RSPB were consulted. This time round, in addition to EN and the RSPB other organisations such as LAAG were able to make recommendations. The new Scoping Opinion has now been signed off by SDC and returned to PB for execution.  The revised Scoping Opinion took 4 months to draft because of the scale and complexity of the issues.  

The main thrust of LAAG’s submission centered on nuclear safety (ignored by Parsons Brinckerhoff) and the need for radar based migratory bird studies. We also argued that the EIA should address the full implications of all development aspects shown by the airport’s master plan and make a full investigation into the economic justification for the creation of a second regional airport in Kent. Finally we highlighted shortfalls in PB’s brief particularly in relation to noise and air pollution, road traffic and aircraft movements.  LAAG’s two submissions are in the Appendix of the latest Scoping Opinion which can be viewed on Shepway District Council’s website www.shepway.gov.uk and on LAAG’s website www.lyddairportaction.co.uk.      

Passenger Targets Withdrawn From KCC Policy Statement - Confirmed

On December 15th Kent County Council confirmed that the policy statement for Lydd Airport in the Kent and Medway Structure Plan (TP25) would exclude the passenger target of 2million passenger per annum (2mppa) and that the tougher acceptability criteria for development would be included. This conclusion was achieved despite strong lobbying from Lydd Airport and Shepway District Council for the 2mppa target to be reinstated. Our two KCC letter writing campaigns played a major part in achieving this result which was a major victory for LAAG members.

This is the background to this change - on June 2005 the KCC announced that the passenger target of 2mpppa would be deleted from TP25 and that the acceptability criteria for development would be made much tougher. Lobbying by LAAG members (first KCC letter writing campaign - May 2005) was instrumental in achieving this result and this was a major achievement since the changes opposed the recommendations of the Inspector. However, this was not the end of the consultation process since the act of altering TP25 meant that it was subject to another consultation which enabled both supporters and opponents of the airport to reinstate/amend these changes (2nd KCC letter writing campaign - modification consultation - ended October 27th).  Shepway District Council and Lydd Airport lobbied hard in the second consultation for the 2mppa target to be reinstated to TP25 while we (LAAG and LAAG members) lobbied for even tougher acceptability criteria. In the end no further modifications were made which means TP25 has now been finalised and it retains the changes outlined in June i.e. it excludes the target of 2mppa and includes the tougher acceptability criteria. The structure plan is expected to be signed off in March/April 2006.  

It is important to appreciate that the wording of policy statements in structure plans which shape the planning framework at the district, county and regional level, is vital to the success of our campaign. If these policy statements favour development of an airport then development is deemed acceptable from a planning perspective, making it harder to oppose.  

Appointment of John Large

LAAG has appointed John Large of Large and Associates, an internationally renowned nuclear consulting engineer, to carry out a study into the safety implications of the proposed increase in flight movements at Lydd Airport. In his report John will analyse the risk and hazards posed to the two nuclear power stations at nearby Dungeness by the proposed increased air traffic movements and he will assess the vulnerability of the nuclear island containment systems to impact from the commercial-size airliners that will fly to and from Lydd Airport. When his safety report is published we hope to use it as a basis for changing current planning legislation. LAAG’s central theme is very simple and appears common sense to most people: passenger airports should not be located close to nuclear power stations.  John was also asked to advise LAAG on the nature of the variables that should be covered to ensure nuclear safety was adequately covered by the Scoping Opinion for the EIA. 

Noise Reporting

Local people have been dissatisfied with the procedure for reporting noise complaints to the Airport. (Reporting is vital as dissent will help our cause in a Public Inquiry.) The phone is sometimes not answered and when messages are left on the voicemail there is the concern that the message may not reach the intended recipient or be logged appropriately. To overcome the problem we have developed a backup.  First, call the airport and report the incident noting the date and time of the incident - if the call is not taken leave a message. In addition, ring the Environmental Department at Shepway District Council (SDC) and repeat the details, mentioning that you have also reported the incident to the Airport. Ring 01303 853 549 and ask to have the complaint logged or email environmental.health@shepway.gov.uk.  Note, SDC cannot take any action but at least we will have an independent record. As a double back up as there have been difficulties with this facility - send/phone/email the details to Di Matra and she too is keeping an independent record for LAAG (01797 366 782, email di@matra.fsnet.co.uk or write to Di Matra, 127 Dunes Road, Greatstone TN28 8SP).  
Remember you must ring the airport first and leave details before you log your complaint with SDC and Di Matra

SAVE ROMNEY MARSH  - SUPPORT OUR CALL FOR A PUBLIC INQUIRY

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
blmbarton@aol.com