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Newsletters

LAAG publishes regular newsletters to keep members up to date on what is happening. You can view the current newsletter on this page and/or use the menu below to read past issues.

Current Newsletter 24: Q2 & Q3 2013
Newsletter 23:
Q2 2012-Q12013

Newsletter 22:
Q3 2011 & Q2 2012

Newsletter 21: Q2 2011
Newsletter 20:
Q4, 2010 & Q1 2011

Newsletter 19: Q3 2010

Newsletter 18: Q2 2010

Newsletter 17: Q4 2009, Q1 2010

Newsletter 16: Q3 2009

Newsletter 15: Q2 2009

Newsletter 14: Q4 2008 & Q1 2009

Newsletter 13 Q2 & Q3 2008

Newsletter 12 Q4, 2007 & Q1 200
8

Newsletter 11 Q2 & Q3 2007
Newsletter 10 Q1 2007

Newsletter 9 - Q4 2006

Newsletter 8 - Q3 2006

Newsletter 7 - Q2 2006
Newsletter 6 - Q1 2006
Newsletter 5 - Q4 2005
Newsletter 4 - Q3 2005
Newsletter 3 - Q2 2005
Newsletter 2 - February 2005
Newsletter 1 - November 2004

Current Newsletter 24: Q2 & Q3 2013

Planning Update: LAAG lodges an Appeal: On May 29th, 2013, LAAG announced that it had lodged an Appeal with the High Court, challenging the government’s decision to grant Lydd Airport permission to extend its runway and build a new terminal. The application is brought under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to quash the decisions of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Secretary of State for Transport (DFT), made in their letters dated April 10th, 2013. At the same time the RSPB also lodged its appeal.

In mounting an appeal we will be questioning the validity of the decision made by the two Secretaries of State. Although the appeal process follows a set procedure with the submission of grounds, witness statements, rebuttals etc., the actual date of the hearing remains unknown. It is unlikely to be before next year.

The April 10th, 2013 decision to approve Lydd Airport’s development: The two Secretaries of State approved the planning application for Lydd Airport’s runway extension and new terminal. It is not appropriate to comment on the nature of the decision at this juncture given the pending Appeal, other than to say that this was a more unusual situation in that the decision was based on an extended evidence base - the Inspector’s report which drew conclusions from the 2011 public inquiry proceedings and additional evidence produced after the public inquiry during 2012. The more common situation involves the one Secretary of State (SOS) - the SOS for Communities and Local government - basing his/her decision on the Inspector’s report, although the SOS is not obliged to adopt the Inspector’s recommendation.

Post inquiry evidence - the 2012 consultations: There were four separate consultations during 2012 mostly concerned with the issue of nuclear safety: two related to Dr Trotta’s paper which examined the efficacy of the Byrne model that underpinned the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR’s) regulatory decision not to oppose Lydd Airport’s planning application and the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), while the two consultations later in the year were concerned with independent research submitted by Mrs Auty. This evidence proved that the ONR used inappropriate assumptions for a key variable of the Byrne model which reduced the model’s numerical outcome to a level which enabled the ONR to justify its regulatory decision not to oppose Lydd Airport’s planning application.

Dr Trotta’s research (Imperial College, London) was commissioned by LAAG in early 2012. His investigation of the Bryne model concluded that it was not fit for purpose. In addition to the factors identified earlier by LAAG and other parties, he concluded that there were a number of methodological and statistical defects which rendered the model unfit for decision making. This was a powerful piece of new evidence which led to the first of the four consultations during 2012. It was later supported by some new evidence from the nuclear consultant, Mr Large on the longevity of the risk at Dungeness.

In response to the consultations in the second half of 2012 LAAG also produced more evidence on the subject of demographic restraint and the contradictions in relation to the ONR’s implementation of this policy. Again this was supported by additional evidence from the nuclear consultant, Mr Large.

Broadly, it is government/ONR’s policy that residential and commercial development should be restrained around nuclear power plants to ensure the general site population characteristics, as they existed at the time of licensing, are maintained throughout the entire lifecycle of the plant, subject to allowances for natural growth. Although the ONR attended another public inquiry to defend this policy in relation to a housing development beside the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment, and strongly argued for a policy advocating such restraint to be incorporated into the new national planning policy framework (NPPF), it ignored this policy in relation to Lydd Airport’s development, only proffering an inadequate and incomplete assessment five years into the planning process.

UK Government investigated by EU: At the time LAAG submitted Dr Trotta’s work to DCLG and DFT in April 2012, we also sent a formal complaint to the European Commission over the ONR/ government’s handling of Lydd Airport’s planning application. Further supportive evidence was provided during the course of 2012. In November LAAG was informed by the Commission that it would investigate the UK government under the EU Pilot Mechanism in relation to a potential infringement of the Nuclear Safety Directive. Only a proportion of the complaints are taken forward by the Commission.

The Pilot mechanism is a process by which conflicts are negotiated through dialogue between the member state in question and the European Commission with a view to averting infringement cases. If the issues cannot be resolved, the Commission could mount a full scale infringement case against the UK government. The Commission sent its initial set of questions to the UK government on January 8th, 2013. The investigation is on-going.

Noise reporting procedure: A number of members have expressed concern about aircraft noise. The procedure to report noise is given below. The prime responsibility for recording noise complaints rests with Lydd Airport. Shepway District Council stated it is no longer responsible for recording noise but we see no reason why SDC should not be informed as a matter of record. The CAA also has a noise reporting line but limited powers of response.

The procedure is: first, record the time and date of the incident: Ring Lydd Airport - 01797 322400 - if your call is not taken please leave a message stating the time and date of the incident or email details to - info@lydd-airport.co.uk. As a back up please ring LAAG's noise complaints recorder - Helen Brown on 01797 367 886 or email her on helenfitz91@hotmail.com. Other options are the CAA noise (voice mail) compliant line: 0207 453 6524 (record the same information and if you want to discuss the complaint request a call back) and Sarah Hogben (01303 853268/ Sarah.hogben@shepway.gov.uk) at the Environmental Department at Shepway District Council.  Note: The CAA has no legal power to restrict aircraft activity due to noise nuisance. For more information about the CAA and noise see www.caa.co.uk/aree.

SAVE ROMNEY MARSH: LAAG does not charge a subscription for annual membership but if you would like to make a voluntary donation to help cover legal costs associated with the Appeal, please make cheques payable to LAAG. Louise Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 23: Q2 2012-Q1 2013

Planning Update: Nuclear safety now in the spotlight: At the 2011 public inquiry four expert witnesses gave evidence under the LAAG umbrella on the issue of nuclear safety, one of a number of important issues contested at this hearing. Although the Inspector sent his report to the government on March 9th 2012, his assessment of the nuclear evidence and final recommendation are unknown since his report is not published until the government has made its decision. Further, the government has the legal right to reject his recommendation. In other words, had the Inspector recommended refusal the government remains entitled to support the development.

Against this background we became concerned in early 2012 when the nuclear regulator (ONR) failed to address the issue of accidental crash damage in its post Fukushima nuclear power plant safety evaluation to the European Commission - despite being mandated by the Commission to do so. This signaled to the UK government that accidental crash damage at UK nuclear power stations was not an issue, indeed was irrelevant. Any such interpretation is incorrect as the evidence shows that the methodology (probability based Byrne model) underpinning the ONR’s regulatory decision is deeply flawed and that the ONR ought to have opposed the planning application.

This chain of events led to LAAG commissioning additional research from Dr Roberto Trotta of Imperial College, London to support the large body of existing expert evidence which shows that the ONR’s methodology was flawed. In April 2012 his evidence was sent to the two government departments responsible for the Lydd Airport decision - the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for Transport (DFT) - and to the European Commission as part of the basis for a formal complaint. Dr Trotta’s work prompted the first of four consultations sponsored by DCLG and DFT in the period April to November 2012. This series of consultations allowed LAAG and other parties to provide additional evidence on nuclear safety and to reiterate the need for accountability as there remain a large number of questions which the ONR should answer before a decision on Lydd Airport can be made.

Despite the body of evidence submitted to DCLG and DFT that shows the ONR’s regulatory decision is flawed, the regulator continues to fail to engage - refusing to respond to the important work of experts and to clarify other anomalies associated with its decision. It is this failure to engage, and equally the government’s failure to seek accountability from the ONR, which forms the basis of LAAG’s complaint to the European Commission.

Although the ONR has convened a Technical Advisory Panel to examine the efficacy of crash damage modeling (we believe in response to the overwhelming evidence that the Byrne model is flawed) this does not absolve it from examining the specifics of the Lydd Airport/Dungeness case. Perversely, the ONR has declared that it will not change the basis if it’s regulatory decision on Lydd Airport despite the findings of the panel. Such pre-determination, is deeply concerning.

Planning restraint: One of the recommendations made by the ONR to the UK government post Fukushima was that there should be restraints on residential and commercial development in the vicinity of nuclear facilities. LAAG has argued in submissions to both the Department for Transport (DFT) and the Transport Select Committee in relation to the new aviation policy framework that this document should specifically incorporate a policy preventing airport development in the vicinity of nuclear facilities. The need to incorporate a specific policy on airport development in the aviation policy framework, rather than a more general policy on restraining development in the more appropriate new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) arises because of DCLG’s willful failure to incorporate the ONR’s recommendation in the new planning framework (NPPF). (DCLG is the government department in charge of planning and planning policy.)

Background: After Fukushima, the government through the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), requested the ONR to produce a report on lessons to be learnt from this incident. One of the ONR’s principal recommendations was that there should be a review of the adequacy of planning controls for residential and commercial developments in the vicinity of nuclear installations. This constraint is required so that the population characteristics in the region of a nuclear site remain essentially the same for the life of the installation to minimise the number of people exposed to radiation, prevent the frustration of emergency services and reduce the possible cause of an accident.

The ONR then followed this up with a strong recommendation that constraints on residential and commercial development in the vicinity of nuclear sites should be incorporated into the new planning framework (NPPF). The ONR also argued that it should be granted statutory consultee status so that its regulatory advice would be given more weight in planning matters. Neither of these wishes was granted by DCLG. Correspondence obtained via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests shows the ONR making strong overtures to DCLG over the public necessity to have development restraint written into the NPPF and Ministers behaving evasively in response and prescribing simplicity and policy exclusion so that economic growth would not be compromised.

ONR inconsistency: Although the ONR forcibly argued for policies to restrain development in the vicinity of nuclear installations to be incorporated into the NPPF, and even attended a public inquiry in 2010/2011 to enforce its recommendation that a housing estate should not be build beside the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons facility, it failed to address the population issue when it came to Lydd Airport’s proposed expansion. This is despite Lydd Airport’s development resulting in a higher rate of population increase and the consequences of an accident being potentially greater. Moreover, the introduction of heavy aircraft as a result of Lydd Airport’s development could cause an accident at the Dungeness complex- unlike a passive housing development.

The ONR ought to have opposed Lydd Airport’s planning application on the basis of the increase in population it would produce in the vicinity of the Dungeness nuclear complex in line with its own recommendations and policies. In other words, the demographic aspect was reason alone to object to Lydd Airport’s planning application, as we highlighted in one of our submissions to DCLG and DFT last year.

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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 22: Q3 2011 & Q1 2012

Planning Update: Following the completion of the public inquiry (September 16th, 2011) the Inspector submitted his report and recommendation to the government on March 9th, 2012. His report is not made public until the government has made its decision. The Inspector’s report accompanies this decision. The two relevant Secretaries of State (SOSs) are Eric Pickles, SOS for Communities and Local Government and Justine Greening, SOS for Transport. The date of the decision is unknown. However, history indicates that the period between the government’s receipt of the Inspector’s report and the date of its decision is 1-6 months. Given that more than one SOS is involved, we believe the period is likely to be greater than 1month. 

The Decision: The Inspector adjudicates according to planning law. Although we believe LAAG and the other rule 6 parties opposing the development won the majority of the arguments at the public inquiry, it does not guarantee that the Inspector will recommend in our favour, or that the government will make a decision to reject the planning application in line with the Inspector’s recommendation to do so. The government has the legal right to oppose the Inspector’s recommendation for political reasons - the inspector’s task (and this is a huge task for a multi faceted application such as this) is to indicate to the government where it resides in relation to the law so that if the government wants to support a controversial application it can do so without ending up with legal challenges.  

What Next?  How LAAG proceeds from hereon depends on the decision outcome. If the government passes the application we believe it will have infringed European law in a number of areas including nuclear safety. This paves the way for seeking redress in Europe. Whatever the outcome LAAG must address other planning related developments such as the new Aviation White Paper and the emerging Local Development Framework (local plan) - it is essential to ensure that the policies governing airport development both nationally and locally are appropriate. If the policy framework is hugely supportive of an airport’s development it is almost impossible to stop development at the planning application stage, but if there is no policy support, or support with heavy qualifications, constraints can be won. There is a public inquiry (Examination in Public before an Inspector) in 2012 for the Shepway local plan (date to be determined) and another consultation for the new Aviation White Paper at the end of March. 

Fukushima (Japan) and Crash Damage Assessments: The “stress testing” - the safety evaluation of all nuclear power stations in the EEC in the wake of Fukushima - is now underway. This evaluation required that all nuclear power stations in the EEC be assessed for their ability to cope with external hazards such as earthquakes and non-natural hazards such as aircraft crash damage. The country reports were submitted to the European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Group (ENSREG) in December 2011 (UK’s report not submitted until January 4th) for peer reviewing from January to April 2012. The concluding EEC report, with policy recommendations, is due in June 2012.  

The trouble with the process is that some countries, including the UK, chose not to address the issue of crash damage in their reports to ENSREG. This is not surprising given the evidence produced by LAAG’s expert witnesses at the public inquiry. This showed that the risk of radiation release remains long after both Dungeness A and Dungeness B have been decommissioned and that the methodology used to screen out the possibility of an aircraft accident at a nuclear power station, in this case the Dungeness nuclear power plant site, is deeply flawed and substantially underestimates the risk of an accident caused by aircraft taking off and landing from Lydd Airport. Using this flawed methodology, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR, formerly the NII) assessed that the risk of an accident at Dungeness from Lydd Airport based traffic was so low that it could be ignored. On this basis it chose not to oppose Lydd Airport’s planning application, thereby tacitly sanctioning its development. 

 Following the UK’s failure to address the issue of crash damage in its report to ENSREG on January 4th, 2012, and given its relevance to the pending Lydd Airport planning determination, LAAG has commissioned further work on the crash damage methodology. This will be directed to both DG Energy (EEC) and the two relevant Secretaries of State making the determination. With regard to the stress testing exercise itself, the failure of countries to address the broader issues as prescribed by ENSREG could work in our favour to the extent that there is likely to more enforced re-assessment of safety issues following the June 2012 report and ultimately, stronger policy direction.  

Other Issues: Since the public inquiry, LAAG has responded to: the first consultation for the new Aviation White Paper, a consultation on aspects of the local plan although any policy decision is being deferred until after the determination and a recent consultation on the efficacy of the nuclear safety directive. We also made a representation to the government over the Chancellor’s desire to neuter EEC environmental legislation in order to facilitate growth. This legislation controls the protected habitats that surround Lydd Airport - the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Dungeness to Pett Level Special Protection Area (SPA).  

We pointed out that this legislation does not stop development - rather it allows for development in the public interest, but only after all other options have been exhausted. If an alternative to a proposed damaging development can be identified, for example, underutilised Manston Airport in relation to Lydd Airport’s proposed expansion, the development cannot proceed. However, if there is no alternative to the development proposal, despite it damaging habitats, and it is deemed to be in the overwhelming public interest, the development can proceed. This legislation forces the “system” to think rigorously about development and its consequences and ensures that only needed, as opposed to speculative development such as Lydd Airport’s proposed expansion, is undertaken.  

The strength of the Habitats Regulations stopped the nomination of a third nuclear power station at Dungeness in the first new nuclear build round. This is because there were alternative nuclear power plant sites available. But the constraints of the Habitats Regulations are likely to be overcome in the future which means Dungeness C should be nominated in the second round (assuming other issues such as flooding do not become an issue).  This is because there will be no alternatives to existing nuclear power plant sites given the difficulty in locating deep water coastal sites in areas of low population and resistance to new Greenfield development.  

However, if a regional airport is established at Lydd over the next 20-30 years it could be regarded as an unacceptable external hazard and scupper Dungeness C’s development, particularly when Britain’s nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (the ONR - formerly the NII), will not be the only arbiter of safety. Under Article 41 of the European Treaty establishing EURATUM, the European Commission has the right to make an independent safety assessment. The Commission’s conclusion about Lydd Airport’s status as a hazard could be at odds with that of the ONR’s. Although it could not stop the development of Dungeness C on safety grounds, the Commission would make its opinion public, setting in train a political process which could frustrate or stop the new power plant’s development. It is the wealth destroying Lydd Airport, not the Habitats Regulations that the Chancellor should be concerned about.  

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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 21: Q2, 2011

Public Inquiry Update: The public inquiry began on February 15th 2011 - it was originally scheduled to last 4-6 weeks, then programmed to extend until July 14th, and is now scheduled to last until September 16th 2011, although it will not be sitting in August or the second half of July. LAAG is around three quarters of the way through presenting its evidence, the last subject to be cross examined being nuclear safety which involved a week of inquiry time and four expert witnesses from LAAG - John Large (Large & Associates), Dr David Pitfield, Loughborough University, Malcolm Spaven (Spaven Consulting) and Mrs Trudy Auty, an independent consultant. The final presentation made by LAAG will be on September 14th when LAAG presents its closing statement. A day of inquiry time (July 5th) will be devoted to local submissions and the Inspector will hold a session at New Romney (Marsh Academy) on the evening of July 5th - see separate notice.

Note: Evidence that has been presented at the public inquiry is now on our website - www.lyddairportaction.co.uk. Further evidence will be added after it has been presented.

Fukushima: In the light of the Fukushima disaster the Government requested the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (now part of the Office of Nuclear Regulation) to produce a safety review on lessons to be learnt from this accident by the UK nuclear industry. LAAG lobbied that the parameters of the report should extend beyond natural external events to man made events, particularly aircraft crash risk as this is more relevant to the UK. The UK published its interim report on May 18 - the report concentrated almost exclusively on natural hazards/external events. By contrast, when the European Commission announced that all European nuclear power plants will be re-assessed using EU wide criteria on May 25th it actively promoted the assessment of both natural and man made hazards, particularly the impact of aircraft crashes. It is still not clear how these two reports will be reconciled but the outcome is highly relevant to the Lydd Airport planning application.

New Aviation White Paper: The Air Transport White Paper (2003) is to be replaced and a scoping document has been published for consultation. This is a document which seeks views from a wide range of sources to help the government formulate its thinking on the future of aviation. It is a precursor to the draft policy document which will be published for consultation in March 2012. The preparation of the new White Paper will be entirely different to that undertaken by the previous government. The Labour Government commissioned extensive background research on the environmental, social and economic implications of the growth in aviation. The coalition is leaving it to interested parties to produce the research to justify their claims. LAAG is fortunate in that we have commissioned research for the public inquiry which can be repurposed for this exercise. The concern generally is that there will be a bias towards development since many groups will not be able to afford research and so will be at a disadvantage to the well funded submissions from the aviation industry. The positive aspect of the government’s stance to date is a declaration that it is “not prepared to support the growth [in aviation] at any price”. LAAG would like members to contribute to the current consultation - see separate correspondence.

SUMMARY OF LAAG’s PUBLIC INQUIRY SUBMISSIONS
(You can read these submissions here)

LAAG/3/A - Trudy Auty - Nuclear Safety Conflicts 
LAAG/3/B - Trudy Auty - Appendices Nuclear Safety Conflicts

LAAG/3/C - Trudy Auty - Summary Proof

LAAG/3/D - Trudy Auty - Rebuttal of
LAA/6/C - in relation to nuclear
LAAG/3/E - Supplementary Proof - Comment on ESR Reports
LAAG/3/F - Appendices LAAG/3/E
LAAG/3/G - Background Crash Rate Definitions
LAAG/3/H - Nuclear Assessment Criteria (including BSO, BSLs and ALARP)
LAAG/3/I - Appendix to LAAG3H including specific document and letter extracts
LAAG/3/J - Precaution, Consequence Decisions and Inherent Risk

LAAG/4/A - John Large - Nuclear Safety
LAAG/4/B - John Large - Summary Proof - Nuclear Safety
LAAG/4/C - John Large - Appendices - Nuclear Power
LAAG/4/D - John Large - Additional Evidence 1- Nuclear Power (Aldermaston)- Demographic siting Assessments
LAAG/4/E - John Large - Summary Additional Evidence - (Aldermaston)- Demographic siting assessments

LAAG/4/F - John Large - Appendices for LAAG/4/D
LAAG/4/G - John Large - Additional Evidence 2 - NII FOI response - ESR Report with faint pages
LAAG/4/H - John Large - Appendices Additional Evidence 2
LAAG/4/I - John Large - Additional Evidence 2A - NII “fuller - all legible” ESR Report FOI response
LAAG/4/J - Appendix - “Fuller” ESR report
LAAG/4/K - John Large - Additional Evidence 1A - Demographic Siting
Assessments Dungeness A & B
LAAG/4/L - Appendix to LAAG/4/K
LAAG/4/M - John Large - Further examples of the application of site issues to planning controls and restrictions nearby nuclear licensed sites
LAAG/4/N - Appendices to- LAAG/4/M - LAAG/4/0 - Key

LAAG/5/A - Dr David Pitfield - Airport Accident Prediction
LAAG/5/B - Dr David Pitfield - Summary Proof - Airport Accident Prediction

LAAG/6/A- Louise Barton - Changes since 1988-1992
LAAG/6/B - Louise Barton - Appendices: Changes since 1988-1992
LAAG/6/C - Louise Barton - Summary Proof: Changes since 1988-1992

LAAG/7/A - Louise Barton - Need for development
LAAG/7/B - Louise Barton - Summary Proof - Need for Development

LAAG/8/A - Louise Barton - Economic Impact
LAAG/8/B - Louise Barton - Appendices Economic Impact
LAAG/8/C - Louise Barton - Summary Proof - Economic Impact
LAAG/8/D - Louise Barton - Rebuttal of LAA/4/A
LAAG/8/E - Louise Barton - Rebuttal of SDC/3/A

LAAG/8/F - Louise Barton - Summary -
Rebuttal of LAA/4/A
LAAG/8/G - Louise Barton - Summary -
Rebuttal of SDC/3/A

LAAG/9/A - Louise Barton- Conformity to Aviation White Paper
LAAG/9/B - Louise Barton - Appendices: Conformity to Aviation White Paper

LAAG/10/A - Malcolm Spaven - Aviation Issues
LAAG/10/B - Malcolm Spaven - Summary Proof: Aviation Issues -Operational
LAAG/10/C - Malcolm Spaven - Summary Proof: Aviation Issues - Nuclear
LAAG/10/D - Malcolm Spaven - Appendices Aviation Issues

LAAG/10/E - Malcolm Spaven - Rebuttal

LAAG/10/F - Malcolm Spaven - Summary Rebuttal
LAAG/10/G - Malcolm Spaven - Erratum to proofs - LAAG/10/A & LAAG/10/E
LAAG/10/H - Malcolm Spaven - 2nd Supplementary proof of evidence
LAAG/10/1 - Malcolm Spaven - Appendices to 2ndset of Supplementary Proof of E..
LAAG/10/J - Malcolm Spaven - Note in Response To Points Raised In Cross-Examination On 11 March 2011
LAAG/10/K - Email from Defence Estates Clarifying the Opening Hours of The Lydd & Hythe Military Ranges and The Status of The Radar
LAAG/10/L - MS’s Corrections to LMB’s work

LAAG/11/A - Mark Watts - Basis 2mppa, Conformity to EIA and Habitat Regs.
LAAG/11/B - Mark Watts, Appendices - Basis 2mppa, Conformity to EIA/Habitat Regs.
LAAG/11/C - Mark Watts - Summary Proof- Basis 2mppa, Conformity to EIA/Habitat Regs.

LAAG/12/A - Louise Barton - Shepway’s decision immaterial
LAAG/12/B - Louise Barton - Appendices to Shepway’s decision immaterial
LAAG/12/C - Louise Barton - Summary Proof - Shepway’s decision immaterial

LAAG/13/A- Louise Barton - Aviation Issues Rebuttal - to complement Malcolm Spaven’s LAAG/10/E

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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 20: Q4, 2010 & Q1 2011

Public Inquiry Update: The public inquiry begins on February 15th 2011. Originally scheduled to last 4-6 weeks, it is now programmed to last until Thursday, July 14thth, 2011 - 22 weeks with 14 sitting. The inquiry will be held in Shepway District Council’s chamber (Civic Centre, Folkestone Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone, CT20 2QY), Tuesday to Friday - 10am to 4.30pm. The public can attend. Although members are represented by LAAG at the inquiry, if members wish to speak they must contact the programme officer, Helen Wilson (01527 65741/07879 443035) or attend the public inquiry on February 15th to voice their intentions so that they can be incorporated into the programme.

There are three Rule 6 Parties (able to cross examine) speaking in favour of the development - Lydd Airport, Shepway District Council and the Shepway Labour Party - and five against - Natural England, RSPB, Protect Kent (CPRE), Kent Wildlife and LAAG. Lydd Airport, Shepway District Council, Natural England, and the RSPB will have their cases presented by barristers/QCs. The remaining organisations will conduct their own cases. Although LAAG will not be represented by a QC/barrister at the inquiry, we will continue to be advised by Matthew Horton QC. To prevent duplication and added expense, the five organisations opposed to the airport’s development have divided the total case between them.

Due to restricted funds, LAAG’s emphasis has been on employing leading consultants to provide evidence and to be witnesses at the inquiry. Trudy Auty, a retired scientist living in Shepway has also agreed to provide evidence on LAAG’s behalf (nuclear safety conflicts). The consultants are set out below - all but Cranfield University, which was commissioned to undertake research to be incorporated into the evidence of other witnesses, will be attending the inquiry on behalf of LAAG.

Cranfield University (Air Transport) - Financial position of Lydd Airport at 500,000ppa
John Large - Large & Associates - Nuclear safety
Dr David Pitfield - Loughborough University - Airport accident prediction
Malcolm Spaven - Spaven Consulting - Aviation matters (general & nuclear related)
Mark Watts - Luther Pendragon - Conformity to EIA & Habitats Regulations - application should have been assessed on the basis of 2mppa

The remaining subjects covered by LAAG will be covered internally - socio economic, need for the development, conformity to the Aviation White Paper, immateriality of the last (1988-1992) and current decisions to support Lydd Airport’s development, by respectively, the then Secretary of State (1992) and Shepway District Council (March 3rd 2010).

In terms of the process - all parties have submitted core documents, proofs of evidence and a proportion of rebuttals - rebuttals are being staggered due to the length of the case. Common ground statements have yet to be agreed with all parties. A list of the documents produced by LAAG and its consultants is below. This information will eventually be put on to our website www.lyddairportaction.co.uk.

SUMMARY OF LAAG’s SUBMISSIONS TO DATE

LAAG/3/A - Trudy Auty - Nuclear Safety Conflicts 
LAAG/3/B - Trudy Auty - Appendices Nuclear Safety Conflicts

LAAG/3/C - Trudy Auty - Summary Proof

LAAG/3/D - Trudy Auty - Rebuttal of
LAA/6/C - in relation to nuclear
LAAG/4/A - John Large - Nuclear Safety
LAAG/4/B - John Large - Summary Proof - Nuclear Safety
LAAG/4/C - John Large - Appendices - Nuclear Power
LAAG/4/D - John Large - Additional Evidence - Nuclear Power (Aldermaston)
LAAG/4/E - John Large - Summary Additional Evidence - (Aldermaston)
LAAG/4/F - John Large - Appendices for LAAG/4/D
LAAG/4/G - John Large - Additional Evidence 2 - NII FOI response
LAAG/4/H - John Large - Appendices Additional Evidence 2
LAAG/4/I - John Large - Additional Evidence 3 - NII “fuller” FOI response
LAAG/5/A - Dr David Pitfield - Airport Accident Prediction
LAAG/5/B - Dr David Pitfield - Summary Proof - Airport Accident Prediction
LAAG/6/A - LAAG - Changes since 1988-1992
LAAG/6/B - LAAG - Appendices: Changes since 1988-1992
LAAG/6/C - LAAG - Summary Proof: Changes since 1988-1992
LAAG/7/A - LAAG - Need for development
LAAG/7/B - LAAG - Summary Proof - Need for Development
LAAG/8/A - LAAG - Economic Impact
LAAG/8/B - LAAG - Appendices Economic Impact
LAAG/8/C - LAAG - Summary Proof - Economic Impact
LAAG/8/D - LAAG - Rebuttal of LAA/3/A & SDC/3/A
LAAG/9/A - LAAG - Conformity to Aviation White Paper
LAAG/9/B - LAAG - Appendices: Conformity to Aviation White Paper
LAAG/10/A - Malcolm Spaven - Aviation Issues
LAAG/10/B - Malcolm Spaven - Summary Proof: Aviation Issues -Operational
LAAG/10/C - Malcolm Spaven - Summary Proof: Aviation Issues - Nuclear
LAAG/10/D - Malcolm Spaven - Appendices Aviation Issues
LAAG/10/E - Malcolm Spaven - Rebuttal
LAAG/11/A - Mark Watts - Basis 2mppa, Conformity to EIA and Habitat Regs.
LAAG/11/B - Mark Watts, Appendices - Basis 2mppa, Conformity to EIA/Habitat Regs.
LAAG/11/C - Mark Watts - Summary Proof- Basis 2mppa, Conformity to EIA/Habitat Regs.
LAAG/12/A - LAAG - Shepway’s decision immaterial
LAAG/12/B - LAAG - Appendices to Shepway’s decision immaterial
LAAG/12/C - LAAG - Summary Proof - Shepway’s decision immaterial
LAAG/13/A - LAAG - Aviation Issues Rebuttal - to complement Malcolm Spaven’s LAAG/10/E

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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 19: Q3 2010

Public Inquiry: The determination of Lydd Airport’s planning application has been taken out of the hands of Shepway District Council following the announcement by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s to call in the application for his determination via a public inquiry. The announcement was made on June 22, 2010. The Secretary of State accepted that the planning application satisfied sufficient of the criteria used to determine the need for a public inquiry. Shepway District Council’s decision to support the planning application on March 3rd, 2010, was wrong in fact, law and process and we believe this also helped to formulate his decision to hold an inquiry. The public inquiry is scheduled to begin on February 15th, 2011 and is expected to take up to six weeks. The Inspector appointed to hold the inquiry has been named as K D Barton BA(HONS) DIPARCH.

We believe LAAG and Kent Wildlife Trusts’ complaints to the European Commission and requests for the enactment of the special pilot mechanism to prevent the politicization of the decision, influenced the outcome. Now that we have a public inquiry the Commission’s role is over, although we have the right to represent our case should the Inspector at the public inquiry fail to adjudicate according to European environmental law. European law is incorporated into domestic law and normally the national legal process must be explored first before the European Commission is approached. The pilot mechanism is a relatively new procedure to deal with special circumstances - it allows applicants to seek European intervention before the domestic process is fully explored.

What Next: In the public inquiry the two sides will comprise Shepway District Council and Lydd Airport representing the case for the large scale development of Lydd Airport, while Natural England, RSPB, Protect Kent (CPRE), Kent Wildlife, Buglife, Kent Downs AONB and LAAG will be presenting their individual cases opposing the development. The Ministry of Defense will not be participating while the position of EDF/British Energy is still unknown as are the positions of other District councils such as Ashford which opposed the planning application.

In the lead up to February 15th, 2011 there are a number of important procedural milestones such as the submissions of statements of case, submissions of statements of common ground, pre inquiry meetings, submissions of proofs of evidence and finally submissions of rebuttal evidence. If you would like to view the proceedings of a public inquiry and the type of work we are about to begin the Kent International Gateway inquiry site gives a very good insight: http://www.persona.uk.com/kent/index.htm

SAVE ROMNEY MARSHREQUEST FOR PUBLIC INQUIRY GRANTED: 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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Current Newsletter 18: Q2 2010

Planning Decision: On March 3rd, 2010 Shepway District Council granted planning permission for Lydd Airport’s proposed runway extension and new terminal. The development will enable the Airport to support passenger throughput up to 500,000ppa compared to the current level of below 1000ppa. Twenty-seven councillors voted for the two applications (Y06/1647/SH and Y06/1648/SH), thirteen against and there was one abstention. This decision was made despite Shepway District Council’s planning officers recommending refusal. The primary reason for refusal was Lydd Airport’s failure to demonstrate that the development would not harm the Special Protection Area (SPA) - the habitat designation under European law which is situated close to the airport. In order to justify this decision to support the planning application, Shepway District Council changed the Appropriate Assessment - the document that it was legally bound to produce to enable it to deduce from the evidence provided by a wide range of sources whether or not Lydd Airport’s development would adversely affect the SPA. The document which was prepared by Shepway District Council’s independent advisor, Bureau Veritas, concluded that Lydd Airport was unable to demonstrate that its development would not have an adverse impact on the SPA. The changes to the Appropriate Assessment were made by deleting text that stated that the development would harm the SPA and substituting this with text prepared by Lydd Airport which maintained that the development would not harm the SPA. Having created a document that supported their case, the councillors were justified in voting in favour of the development.

By voting in favour of the development the Council has broken European Law as the evidence upon which the decision was made does not prove beyond reasonable scientific doubt that there will not be adverse impacts on the SPA. In coming to this decision there were also major breaches of process. The Council spent £74,000 of taxpayers’ money to engage Bureau Veritas to provide independent advice and then disregarded this input.

Events leading up to March 3rd, 2010: Shepway District Council postponed the determination meeting twice before settling on the March 3rd, 2010 date. The original determination date was July 9th 2009. This was postponed to September 24th, 2009 at the Airport’s behest, as was the latter date. The council’s original officer’s report (published July 1st 2009) backed by the original Appropriate Assessment undertaken by Bureau Veritas, also recommended refusal. But, the reasons for refusal were significantly stronger than those given in the latter supplementary officer’s report. “The proposals will result in significant adverse effects on the integrity of the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Dungeness to Pett Level Special Protection Area (SPA), including uncertainty about some ofthe effects” Thus in addition to the SPA the officers believed there would be adverse impacts on the other European designation which borders the Airport’s runway – the Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

The official reason given for the delay in the determination of the planning application from September 24th 2009 to March 2010 was the need to give Jonathan Gordon, Lydd Airport's new Managing Director, time to review all the paper work involved in the two applications. A number of Freedom of Information requests revealed a different story. Lydd Airport had challenged the conclusions of the officer’s report claiming that the conclusions were flawed and Shepway District Council accommodated Lydd Airport's desire to explore how the refusal recommendation made in their officers’ report could be overcome. In the end, within the law the officers could only reduce the reasons for the recommendation, not change the concluding recommendation of refusal.

What Next?: LAAG along with other organisations such as the RSPB, Kent Wildlife Trust and Protect Kent (Kent branch of CPRE) have written to the Government Office of the South East (GOSE) requesting a public inquiry. LAAG made three separate submissions. The previous government issued a holding order under Article 14 of the Town and Country (General Procedure) Order 1995 which prevents Shepway District Council from granting planning permission for a six week period to allow the Minister to consider whether a public inquiry will be held. The order can be rolled over for another six weeks if the new Minister (Eric Pickles) does not make a decision. The current order stands until June 11th 2010.

Since there were major errors of process made by Shepway District Council in coming to its decision on March 3rd. LAAG and other organisations are confident that we have an excellent case for a Judicial Review - although this will only be progressed if a decision is made not to have a Public Inquiry as the latter is the best way in which to resolve the issue. A Judicial Review only looks at the process - the best outcome would be the right to have the planning application re-determined by Shepway District Council. A Public Inquiry looks at the facts and the law and can over turn the decision.

LAAG has also submitted a complaint to the European Commission and a formal request for a pilot mechanism to be enacted. LAAG believes the decision to have a Public Inquiry could become politicised with the change in government and this mechanism is designed to bring the European Commission into the loop earlier than otherwise would be the case. Under normal circumstances organisations such as LAAG would need to explore the domestic legal procedures first (i.e. Public Inquiry, Judicial Review) before approaching the Commission.

Lydd Airport’s Results: The latest Report and Accounts for Lydd Airport (London Ashford Airport) to the year to December 2008 (private company accounts are not as up-to-date as public companies) reveal the following - turnover of £539, 972 and losses of £1,934,173 (turnover of £0.5m and a loss of £1.9m). The annual loss is broadly the same as the figures for 2007 although the turnover in 2008 is lower. There are accumulated loses of £10.6m. Sheikh Fahad al-Athel keeps the company afloat - his company is owed £6m. Note, the latest CAA figures for movements and passenger numbers for 2009 have now been published. There were 588 passengers in 2009, compared to 1673 in 2008 and 2696 in 2007.

The company states in its 2008 accounts that it “continues to market the existing facilities to potential customers with the intention of expanding the customer base and increasing the engineering services offered”. We are now in 2010 and the airport has failed to attract any material new customers. Capacity is not a limiting factor - the airport can support a throughput of 300,000ppa now, yet it is only operating at < 1% of this capacity. Lydd’s neighbour, Manston Airport, located less than 50 miles away, is already able to support the type of larger aircraft Lydd Airport is aspiring to support with it planning application (Boeing 737s) and in addition larger aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 - yet it is also operating at a fraction of its potential capacity and making heavy losses. A new airport will not create demand or the ludicrous job numbers marketed by Lydd Airport.

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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 17: Q4 2009, Q1 2010

Planning Update

On September 8th 2009 Shepway District Council announced that the determination of Lydd Airport’s planning application would be delayed until March 3rd 2010, allegedly to give Jonathan Gordon, Lydd Airport's new Managing Director, time to review all the paper work involved in the two applications. A Freedom of Information request revealed that Lydd Airport, through its advisors, had challenged Shepway District Council’s Officer’s Report’s conclusions that both the planning application for the extended runway and new terminal should be rejected - the principal reason being Lydd Airport’s inability to prove under the Habitats Regulations that the proposed development would not have an adverse impact on the protected habitats that surround it. Although Shepway District Council and Natural England, the statutory consultee on the Habitats Regulations, strongly rebuffed this report, Shepway District Council’s continued willingness to engage with Lydd Airport over clarifying areas of dispute led to Lydd Airport submitting another set of Supplementary Environmental Information in December 2009 - the 4th so far (SEI(4)). Shepway’s planning officers and their consultants must assess this new information and that of the respondents. After the assessment of the new evidence, there is no guarantee that the Officer Report’s recommendation of refusal will be maintained, or that the determination date will be March 3rd, 2010. Matthew Horton QC will represent LAAG on March 3rd, assuming the date remains intact.

LAAG believes a public inquiry is likely whatever the outcome of the determination - through the appeals process should the councillors oppose the planning application and via a referral to the Secretary of State if the councillors are minded to vote in favour of the application. The application satisfies four of the five criteria used to assess whether a public inquiry is required. LAAG will continue to provide information to the Government Office of the South East (GOSE) in support of our belief that the application should be called in.

LAAG’s Response to Lydd Airport’s 4th set of Supplementary Environmental Information

LAAG maintains its objection to the planning application. The fourth set of Supplementary Environmental Information (SEI (4)) does not change our view and LAAG stands by the comments made in our original response dated April 26th 2007 and in our responses to the first, second and third sets of Supplementary Environmental Information (SE1 (1), SEI (2) and SEI (3)) dated respectively November 15th, 2007, October 24th, 2008 and April 7th, 2009.

Most of the new information produced in SEI(4) has been submitted to counter the conclusion in the Officer’s Report that Lydd Airport has been unable to prove that the proposed development will not have an adverse impact on the protected habitats that surround the airport and its runway. In our view none of the new evidence achieved this objective, i.e. Lydd Airport remains unable to prove that the development of the airport would not have an adverse impact on the European Sites that surround its runway/airport.

We also pointed out that, although LAAG agrees with the reasons given in the Officer’s Report for rejecting the planning application, we believe the case against Lydd Airport’s development is more broadly based. We also drew attention to information relevant to the planning application that ought to have been included for assessment before the completion of the Officer’s Report. Apart from the upgrading of the Biodiversity Action Plan, none of the submissions in SEI(4) addressed the remaining outstanding issues referred to in our previous submissions. We queried why Shepway District Council invited comments from Lydd Airport after the publication of the Officer’s Report when this pertinent information remains outstanding.

New Flight Paths and Need for Reassessment:

In our response LAAG highlighted relevant new information. Lydd Airport has been granted approval by the CAA (August 27th, 2009) for new RNAV (GNSS) (Area Navigation (Global Navigation Satellite System)) instrument approach procedures (flight paths) to both runway 21 and runway 03. We believe the new flight paths necessitate a reassessment of most of the key issues relevant to this planning application - noise, pollution, nuclear safety and the economic benefits.

The new RNAV(GNSS) approach procedures mean Lydd Airport now has an instrument approach procedure for both runways - runway 21 and runway 03 - whereas previously it only had instrument approaches to runway 21. The new runway 21 RNAV procedure is offset 14 degrees from the centre line and is inland of the current 5 degree offset ILS approach. This is another non standard approach procedure, required due to the presence of restricted airspace over the Hythe military range, and means that the noise and pollution footprint of Lydd Airport will extend over a wider area of Romney Marsh and outlying areas.

The new RNAV procedures at Lydd are unlikely to make the airport more attractive to commercial operators as the runway 21 approach is significantly offset from the runway centreline, making it even more challenging to fly than the existing ILS approach, while the runway 03 approach is only usable when the Lydd Range is not active. Further, these are non-precision approaches, with no vertical guidance.

Therefore, like the existing ILS approach, the RNAV approach to runway 21 is likely to lead to more missed approaches, diversions and cancellations of flights than would be the case with a conventional straight-in approach procedure. The availability of an approach procedure to runway 03 will do little to alter this as it will only be available when the Lydd Military range is closed. In addition, since we understand that Lydd Airport does not plan to redesign is current ILS, this means passenger aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus 319 would be unable to fully utilise the proposed extended runway on landing, further reducing the commercial attractiveness of the airport and its employment prospects.

Local Development Framework - Core Strategy Consultation

Shepway District produced a summary of the comments to this consultation and an indicative response in January - LAAG participated in the consultation in July 2009 arguing that Lydd Airport should not be considered as a strategic site and that the housing allocations for Shepway, and Romney Marsh in particular, were too high. Not surprisingly the future strategic status of Lydd Airport will be partly determined by the March 3rd outcome, but on housing, one gleans from the comments that Shepway District Council is intent on exceeding the South East Plan’s allocation for Shepway of 5800 dwellings. This is despite the acknowledged opposition to such a strategy. More detailed analysis is being undertaken, it would appear, to prove that the higher numbers can be justified.

The worrying aspect is that residents have little chance to formally challenge Shepway’s final conclusions. The next step is the publication of the core strategy document at the end of 2010. Residents will be able to make comments but these comments will not shape the document, but will be taken forward to the subsequent Examination in Public (EIP) under an Inspector to help him shape his thinking. The Inspector has the right to change the document but only in a relatively minor way. His comments are binding. The only positive factor is that if the document fails certain soundness tests - the process starts again. It is thus incumbent on residents to contact Shepway District Council directly during 2010 (Mark Aplin, (01303) 853266) to determine what Shepway is proposing re Lydd Airport/housing before any policies are finalised, and to make your views known about the airport and the scale of development, particularly on Romney Marsh. Also, make sure your local councillor is up to speed with the issues and is prepared to fight on your behalf.

Noise Complaints - Reporting Procedures

First, call the airport (01797 322 400) to report the incident noting the date and time of the incident. If the call is not taken leave a message (Option 1 twice). In addition, ring/email Sarah Hogben

(01303 853268/ Sarah.hogben@shepway.gov.uk) at the Environmental Department at Shepway District Council (SDC) and repeat the details, mentioning that you have also reported the incident to the Airport.  Note, SDC cannot take any action but at least LAAG will have an independent record. As a double back up - send/phone/email the details to Di Matra and she too is keeping an independent record for LAAG (01797 366 782, email dimatra@btinternet.com 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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 16: Q3 2009

Planning Update - Determination Delayed:

The determination of Lydd Airport’s planning application has been delayed until September 23rd. Shepway District Council acquiesced to Lydd Airport’s lobbying to have the meeting delayed, although they refused to delay the publication of the Officers’ Report which was published on July 1st. Note, the Officers’ Report is a report made by Shepway District Council’s planning officers. It assesses the planning application against the legal/policy framework and makes recommendations to the elected councillors.  

Officers’ Report:

 The Officers’ Report recommended that planning permission for both the runway extension and the new terminal be refused. The principal reasons forwarded were the significant adverse impacts the development would have on the protected habitats that surround the airport. The conclusion applied to habitats designated under both National and European laws – the latter legislation being the strongest. There were also concerns about the scale of the noise impacts on the local community, and to a reduced extent, on Romney Marsh and the Kent Downs AONB. In addition, the report cited the airport’s failure to provide background ecological information for the necessary upgrade to Hammonds Corner (the intersection of the B2075 and the A259). There are other reasons why the planning application should be rejected which were dismissed by the officers - this means LAAG and other organisations have a second line of defense in the event of a public inquiry.  

Officer Report - Comment:

 This is a strong rebuttal and largely reflects the strength of the Habitats Regulations which backs the European sites that surround the airport - the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the Dungeness to Pett Level Special Protection Area (SPA) and the proposed RAMSAR site. Despite its strength the saga is not over as the councillors have the right to oppose the planning officer’s recommendation, although they must take care in doing so, as they could expose Shepway District Council to legal challenge. Further, it is likely that the planning application will be called in for a public inquiry whatever the outcome on September 23rd - through the appeals process if the councillors oppose the planning application and via a referral from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if the councillors vote in favour.  LAAG continues to pursue its challenge to the Nuclear Installations Inspector over its decision not to oppose the planning application and to lobby widely for support for our case and for a public inquiry. LAAG members should continue to write to councillors to ask them to oppose the planning application and to ministers for a public inquiry.  

Other Outcomes - East Kent Sustainable Community Strategy:

 In March 2009 LAAG members contributed to the East Kent Sustainable Communities Strategy consultation - covers Shepway, Thanet, Dover, and Canterbury - an umbrella document which influences other planning documents such as Local Development Frameworks (new name for Local Plans). The consultation strategy document fostered development, supported Lydd Airport and was devoid of any reference to the environment which was ironical given that the intention of the Sustainable Community Strategy is to balance the economic needs of the local economy, with environmental and social considerations. The consultation yielded 250 template responses from LAAG and 90 individual responses which included those from LAAG members. Although the revised strategy document has yet to be published, so that we do not know the updated stance on Lydd Airport, we have been informed that the overriding themes which influence policy now include the following environmental objective. 

“The priceless assets of its unique natural environment and a commitment to protect it for future generations” 

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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 15: Q2 2009

Planning Application’s Determination: The planning application for Lydd Airport’s large scale development will be determined on July 9th, 2009. The planning application was originally published in December 2006. The first consultation revealed that the information was incomplete and inaccurate and it has taken three further consultations on additional information provided by Lydd Airport to obtain information that Shepway District Council believes to be sufficiently comprehensive to make a determination. LAAG believes there remain considerable shortfalls in the nature of the data which could expose Shepway District Council to legal challenge should they vote in favour of the application.  The application will be determined by full council and there will be a free vote. If SDC votes in favour of the development the application will be referred to the Government Office of the South East (GOSE) and GOSE has 21 days to assess whether the application will be called in for a public inquiry. We believe the application satisfies 4 of the 5 criteria used to assess whether there will be a public inquiry. If SDC says no we believe the application will proceed to a public inquiry through the appeals process. Note Shepway District Council must vote for, or against the application. They cannot vote for a public inquiry.

South East Plan: The Regional Spatial Strategy for the South East (South East Plan) has been adopted after extensive consultation. The airport policy statement (T9) in the transport section clearly defines Southampton and Kent International Airport (Manston) as regional airports, and smaller airports which include Lydd Airport, as airports that “could play a valuable role in meeting local demand”. In the section of the South East Plan specifically covering East Kent and Ashford the regional significance of Manston Airport is reiterated, with support for growth up to six million passengers per annum provided certain environmental, transport and amenity issues are satisfied. Lydd Airport, which is less than 50 miles away from Manston Airport, is not mentioned in recognition of its local status. Lydd Airport’s ambition to become a second regional airport in Kent is not consistent with the South East Plan. The policy stance is a victory for common sense as there is no case for the creation of a second regional airport in Kent. Lydd and Manston Airports are both loss making and operating at less than 1% of their existing capacities. 

Challenge to the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII)/ LAAG’s submission to the nuclear site selection consultation: The NII has failed to justify its failure to oppose Lydd Airport’s planning application, despite the operator of Dungeness B, British Energy (now owned by EDF) opposing the planning application due to the increase in crash damage safety and the possibility that Lydd Airport’s development will jeopardise the planning application for Dungeness C. This tacit approval of the planning application means many councillors believe it is safe to have a nuclear power station and a regional airport operating adjacently. LAAG can demonstrate that the NII’s stance is unacceptable, as the 3 summary points made in LAAG’s submission to the nuclear site selection consultation testify. 

1) The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate’s position is contrary to its own safety guidelines. This is independent of the deficiencies within the nuclear safety case.  

2) The safety case is flawed as it has underestimated the risk posed by airport expansion. The mathematical model is too generalised to take into account the high specific risk of Lydd Airport caused by its proximity to the power station complex and the airport’s non standard flight procedures. Further, the safety case is based on inaccurate information. Lydd has repeatedly failed to provide accurate flight paths, fleet mixes and flight procedures. The information provided at the time the safety case was undertaken in 2007 was incorrect.  

3)The NII has breached conditions made in 1988 (when a similar planning application for Lydd Airport’s development was submitted) which stated that it would be unacceptable for an expanded Lydd airport to operate with more than 6,000 movements of aircraft over 5.7 tonnes. The airport’s current plan to expand to 500,000 ppa, indicates 16,000 movements of these aircraft types - a figure that would increase in phase 2 which targets passenger throughput up to 2mppa. We ask, what has changed in the last 20 years which makes the NII feel that it can now allow a substantial increase in the permitted number of large aircraft flight movements in the vicinity of the nuclear power stations?  

LAAG believes the safe operation of Dungeness B and the option of building Dungeness C is being put at risk by  the prospect of an airport development which (a) the vast majority of people do not support (66% of the local community rejected the development in a referendum held in April 2007), (b) is heavily loss making and operating at less than 1% capacity and (c) for which there is no public interest case as there is already an established regional airport in Kent less than 50 miles away which is also loss making and operating at a fraction of its capacity.  

LAAG believes the issues arising from the safety case for Dungeness B as a result of the proposed development of Lydd Airport should be resolved in the interest of public safety. Further, this controversy could compromise the planning application for Dungeness C. In the event that Shepway District Council approves the planning application for Lydd Airport’s large scale development and the application is called in for a public inquiry, LAAG and its members will mount a full scale challenge on all of the above issues, backed by a number of highly qualified experts. We believe the NII would be unable to defend its current position which means that all of the above deficiencies will be voiced in a highly public forum. This would be severely damaging to the nuclear industry at a time when the government is trying to raise public confidence in this field.  LAAG has urged the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to place a formal objection to Lydd Airport’s planning application and/or initiate a review of these matters at an appropriate ministerial level to avoid such a damaging escalation within the public domain.  

LAAG has also approached relevant officers of the European Commission to ask for their assistance over the failure of the NII to engage appropriately on the issue of safety at Dungeness but they are powerless to do anything as nuclear safety comes under national, rather than European laws. However, although the Commission is powerless to comment on Lydd Airport’s planning application from a nuclear safety perspective, once the planning application for Dungeness C is published, assuming that Dungeness is retained as a site for development, the Commission can comment on Dungeness C as an investment project and Lydd Airport as a potential safety hazard to Dungeness - under Article 41 of the European Treaty. Although the Commission could not stop the development of Dungeness C on safety grounds, it would make its opinions public, sending a powerful political message, which means that if Lydd Airport’s plans are accepted by Shepway District Council, the presence of Lydd Airport as a regional airport could derail the Dungeness C planning application with the loss of high quality employment.   

Other Initiatives: In support of our opposition to Lydd Airport’s development and our challenge to the NII, LAAG commissioned the aviation consultant Malcolm Spaven of Spaven Consulting to provide an assessment of possible crash damage scenarios and commentary on changes in the operating environment at Lydd Airport since the conclusion of the previous Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) report in 1988. We also commissioned a study of the “usability” of Lydd Airport to demonstrate that even if Lydd Airport’s inflated economic case were true, it could never deliver due to the airport’s inefficiency caused by its non standard flight procedures. The non standard features are due to the height restrictions over the nearby Lydd and Hythe military ranges. Lydd is the only civil airport in the UK with a 5 degree offset Instrument Landing System (ILS) which means pilots must make a manual late stage adjustment to turn aircraft onto the runway’s centre line. The glide slope is 3.5 degrees rather than the standard 3 degrees and the airport only has an ILS in one direction, rather than two ILSs in opposing directions to cater for the prevailing winds.  This means large aircraft such as the B737 and A320 can only land in one direction (towards Lydd) and would divert if a tail wind exceeds 10knots. These factors raise the risk of pilot error relative to other airports - at an airport that is closer to a nuclear power station than any other airport in the UK. It also means that Boeing 737s and Airbus 319s/320s flights would be diverted in strong tail winds, reducing the efficiency of the airport relative to other airports and the economic benefits it is purported to provide.     

 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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 14: Q4 2008 & Q1 2009

Planning Application’s Progress: At the end of October LAAG submitted its response to the third consultation based on the second set of Supplementary Environmental Information (SEI 2) produced by Lydd Airport in support of its planning application. The second set of supplementary information did not change our view and we stood by the comments made in earlier submissions. Much of the information presented, as in the first set of Supplementary Environmental Information and in the original planning application, was inadequate and in places incorrect. Lydd Airport also introduced a new development in SEI 2 - outline proposals for a possible on-site sewerage treatment works to support its development, but it wants this development to be assessed on planning approval. LAAG argued that this is a major development in its own right and therefore requires the same level of assessment in the planning process as the extension of the runway and the new terminal. This includes being appropriately assessed under the Habitats Regulations since a treatment works has the potential to adversely affect the European sites (SAC and SPA) through the impact of waste water discharge. LAAG’s submission again concluded with requests for further information and clarification.   

Further information was subsequently requested by Shepway District Council, and the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate also asked for clarification on flight path information. Lydd Airport has said this information will be available in the second week of March. Assuming there is no consultation, the earliest time in which determination could take place would be the middle of May due to the internal process Shepway District Council must undertake - its consultants must assess this information, legal opinions may be needed and the Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive must be completed. Another consultation would delay the planning application’s determination until after May.  

Habitats Regulations: In December LAAG approached the European Commission for an opinion over possible breaches of the Habitats Regulations. LAAG believes that the Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Regulations, which is an assessment of the consequences of development on European protected sites, should be assessed on the basis of a throughput of 2mppa in line with the output forecast in Lydd Airport’s Master Plan - as opposed to the basis of 500,000ppa currently proposed. LAAG believes the Master plan should be appropriately assessed in combination with the planning application. We also instructed a leading planning barrister, Matthew Horton QC to provide a legal opinion on this issue as part of our supporting evidence to the European Commission. Mr Horton’s legal opinion supported LAAG’s contention that Lydd Airport’s Master Plan should be taken into account in the Appropriate Assessment which will determine the adverse impact Lydd Airport’s expansion plans will have on the European protected habitats that surround its runway.  

Shepway District Council must complete the Appropriate Assessment before the planning application can be determined. LAAG in combination with the RSPB, Kent Wild Life, Natural England and the KCC believe that it is not possible to prove that the airport’s development up to 500,000ppa (the capacity outlined in the planning application) will not have an adverse impact on the European sites.

Nuclear Safety: LAAG is unhappy with the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate’s (NII’s) response to LAAG members who wrote seeking clarification of the basis on which the NII based its decision not to oppose the Lydd Airport planning application on safety grounds.  

We believe the NII is breaching its own safety guidelines and has failed to clarify why there has been a major relaxation of a previous restriction which was deemed necessary to maintain the safety case in 1988 when a similar planning application was made by Lydd Airport for expansion (2mppa by 2000). The NII has equally failed to explain the contradiction between the 1988 position that accepted that taking off and landing represented the main crash damage safety risk at Lydd Airport, and the position taken today where over flying, not take off and landing, is deemed the major risk factor. We will continue to lobby for an adequate response. In preparing our case to the NII and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) we commissioned Spaven Consulting to: (a) examine changes in the operating environment at Lydd Airport since the conclusion of the previous Nuclear Installations Inspectorate’s crash damage report in 1988; (b) review the flight path assumptions in the 1988 NII report and (c) assess likely crash scenarios.

We believe local people have the right to an explanation as our nuclear safety advisor, John Large, plus a number of senior retired and practicing nuclear engineers and senior personnel familiar with risk assessment in areas related to the nuclear industry, do not agree with the NII’s stance. John Large reviewed Lydd Airport’s second round of Supplementary Environmental Information and concluded that there was no necessity to change the conclusions he set out in his report dated March 17, 2007 which formed part of LAAG’s initial response to Lydd Airport’s planning application submitted to Shepway District Council on April 26th, 2007. In this report John Large predicted that for the proposed expansion to 500,000 passengers per annum (ppa) the overall risk of a commercial airliner accidentally crashing onto the Dungeness nuclear power plant had odds of 1 in 689,229 in each year - 15 times higher than 1 in 10 million level of acceptable odds or risk of an accidental aircraft crash imposed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) in order to maintain the nuclear safety case. Should Lydd Airport expand to 2,000,000 ppa then the risk of an aircraft crash increases to odds of 1 in 409,691 in each year - 24X higher than the threshold. Therefore, the risk of accidental aircraft crash damage would be an unacceptable aspect of the overall nuclear safety case.  

Other Initiatives: LAAG has made a submission to the House of Commons Transport Committee making certain policy recommendations, and in particular, the need for a rigorous site selection programme as a precursor to any White Paper policy framework for the aviation industry. We have also continued to lobby for a public inquiry citing the challenge to the NII and the controversy over the Habitats Regulations.  

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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548,
blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 13: Q2 & Q3 2008

Planning Application: Shepway District Council (SDC) requested more information from Lydd Airport in March 2008 in response to the comments made by statutory and non statutory bodies such as LAAG during the consultation on a previous round of additional information published by Lydd Airport in October 2007. The requested information was published by the airport on August 29, 2008. We have yet to assess the material in detail but our initial response is that, only some of our requests have been met and that part of the information provided is still inadequate. Our consultants will be reviewing the information in the areas where we do not have the expertise in-house. The information is subject to public consultation and is available on the Shepway Planning Portal www.ukplanning.com/shepway and at these locations – Civic Centre, Shepway District Council, One Stop Shop, New Romney and Lydd Airport. (Note: The Shepway Planning Portal is also accessible via the LAAG website www.lyddairportaction.co.uk -planning applications Y0/1647/SH and Y06/1648/SH.) The consultation is scheduled to close at the end of September. LAAG has requested an extension. The planning application is expected to be determined in the first quarter of 2009. This assumes that Shepway does not request further information from the airport in response to this consultation.

Other Planning Initiatives: We have instructed a leading planning barrister to give an opinion on aspects of the Habitats Regulations. This will help support LAAG’s case that the planning application, and the Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Regulations, should be assessed on the basis of a throughput of 2mppa, as opposed to the basis of 500,000ppa currently proposed.

South East Plan: On July 17th 2008 the Government Office of the South East (GOSE) published changes to the South East Plan in response to the Inspector’s recommendations and government input. (Note, GOSE has taken over the Plan from SEERA (South East of England Regional Assembly).) To put these changes into context - in conjunction with other groups LAAG was instrumental in eliminating Lydd Airport from the South East Plan as it was included in the original draft (Policy EKA4). LAAG attended the Examination in Public (EIP) in February 2007 and argued that there was no basis for Lydd Airport’s reinstatement - in the face of the case for its inclusion presented by Lydd Airport and Kent County Council. When the inspector published his report in August 2007 he did not recommend that Lydd Airport should be reinstated. However, when changes to the South East Plan were published on July 17th 2008 to reflect his comments and those of the government - although Lydd Airport was NOT reinstated in policy EKA4 (Urban Renaissance of the Coastal Towns), the wording of the supporting text of Policy T9 (Airports) in the Transport section had been changed, leading to ambiguity over the role of the smaller airports. The previous draft made it clear that the smaller airports were not of strategic importance.

The public consultation gives LAAG the opportunity to respond. We argue that the revised wording of the supporting text is illogical and that it is still possible to conform to the Aviation White Paper and provide clear policy guidance that differentiates airports of regional and local significance. The consultation closes on October 24th. After this consultation there are likely to be some further amendments in the light of the consultation feedback. However, there will be no further consultation and the South East Plan will then be adopted - scheduled date of adoption is the year end, although it is acknowledged that there could be some slippage.

Nuclear Safety: On June 26th, 2008 LAAG attended the Dungeness A and B Site Stakeholder Group meeting with the view to asking the representative from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) the basis on which the decision not to oppose the Lydd Airport Planning Application on safety grounds was made. Unfortunately the representative was unable to attend the meeting. LAAG believes the NII should publicly justify its decision in the light of British Energy’s (owners of Dungeness B) opposition to the planning application and the contrary views of other experts – our nuclear safety advisor John Large, a number of senior retired and practicing nuclear engineers and senior personnel familiar with risk assessment in areas related to the nuclear industry. Interestingly the NII has yet to make a judgment about Dungeness C as the site has not been officially designated.  However, in correspondence with Shepway District Council the NII pointed out that:

 "If the external hazards over which the duty holder has no control are judged to be too great to be accommodated through the design of the plant. The use of the site may be precluded for its proposed purpose."

This implies that if Shepway District Council allows the development of Lydd Airport, it could jeopardize the building of Dungeness C.

Other Developments: Lydd Airport has erected large security lights without planning permission. The lights have caused considerable distress to local residents as they were left on all night. A successful campaign mounted by local residents led by Di Matra and Colin Brown has resulted in Lydd Airport agreeing to turn off the lights at night, provided the airport is not operational.

Noise Reporting:  Call the airport (01797 322 400/411/403) and report the incident noting the date and time of the incident. If the call is not taken leave a message. In addition, report the noise to the Environment Department at Shepway District Council (SDC) and repeat the details to Sarah Hogben - 01303 853 268 or log by email sarah.hogben@shepway.gov.uk. As a back up, send/phone/email the details to Di Matra as she 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.

Newsletter: 12 Q4, 2007 & Q1 2008

Latest News: Shepway District Council has postponed the determination of the planning application for the large scale development of Lydd Airport. The meeting was scheduled for January 30, 2008 but has been deferred for an indefinite period. The need to provide additional information was the official reason given. Although LAAG wholly supports the need for more information, one suspects there is more behind the deferment given that the announcement came a few days after Mr Hutton’s statement in the House of Commons on January 10th , 2008 setting out the government's case for backing new nuclear power plants in Britain.

What Next?: Shepway District Council has yet to outline the nature of the information it requires from Lydd Airport for the third round of information. Whatever information is produced, will require Shepway to allow a period of consultation which means the determination is some months away.  If ecological studies are requested Lydd Airport may need to wait until the appropriate season before surveys can be carried out which will further delay the process.

The Second Consultation:  After the first consultation on the planning application for Lydd Airport’s development (Y0/1647/SH and Y06/1648/SH) in Q1, 2007, Shepway District Council requested further information from Lydd Airport. This information was submitted for public consultation in October 2007 and the second consultation was completed on November 15, 2007.  In responding to the additional information LAAG again called on its advisers for professional advice – particularly the aviation consultant, Malcolm Spaven and the entomologists Dr John and Barbara Ismay.  Our conclusions are set out below: 

(a) LAAG believes the planning applications - Y06/1647/SH and Y06/1648/SH should be rejected. The supplementary information does not change our view and we stand by the comments made in our original response.  

(a) The supplementary Environmental Information (SEI) only includes a proportion of the additional information requested by LAAG in April 2007 and a high proportion of the key fundamental information that is provided in the SEI is either incorrect or inadequate.  

We outlined over 20 areas where there were shortfalls, inaccuracies and omissions in the supplementary information submitted by the airport. In particular, most of the flight path information was incorrect. The baseline current conditions scenario for the airport was incorrect. The current number of aircraft movements had been inflated, and regular, commercial service use of the airport was claimed, by aircraft types which rarely, if ever, use the airport. The incorrect flight paths combined with the inflated “current conditions” scenario invalidated all the noise contour maps presented in the supplementary information and the analysis of the impact of aircraft noise on bird species of conservation interest. This incorrect information also cast doubt on the validity of the air quality analysis, the analysis of the predicted impacts of bird hazard control programmes on bird species of conservation interest, the analysis of the negative impacts of the airport’s development on tourism and the quality of the information used in the Appropriate Assessment required under the Habitats Regulations.   

We made these recommendations to Shepway District Council 

Shepway District Council should either:

    (1) Reject the planning application outright on the basis of Lydd Airport’s persistent reluctance to provide factual information on which to make the determination, or
    (2) Recommend that Lydd Airport provide the required information before proceeding with a normal determination of the planning application. 

Additional Expert Advice:

Since Shepway District Council ignored the recommendation made by LAAG and many other organisations such as the RSPB, Natural England and Kent Wildlife Trust - that the information was inadequate and incomplete - and intended to proceed with determination on January 30th, 2008, we appointed Matthew Horton QC, one of the foremost barristers in the country specialising in Planning and Environmental law, to advise on legal aspects associated with Lydd Airport’s planning application. Mr Horton had also agreed to represent LAAG on the evening of January 30th - LAAG along with other groups and individuals had the right to present its case (in 3minutes). 

LAAG also appointed Brian Banks of Swift Ecology to produce a paper summarising the main ecological attributes of Dungeness as we believe the level of awareness of the importance of Dungeness nationally and internationally is very low. This document has been used in our marketing programme. 

LAAG’s team of specialist advisors is set out below:
Brian Banks – Swift Ecology (The Environment at Dungeness)
Dr John Ismay & Barbara Ismay (Entomological Consultants)
John Large - Large & Associates (Nuclear Safety)
Malcolm Spaven – Spaven Consulting (Aviation)
Matthew Horton QC (Planning Law)
Owen Williams, part of Amey Plc (Transport) 

Other LAAG Initiatives: LAAG has continued to lobby councillors, government ministers and departments on all aspect of this campaign ranging from nuclear safety to the need for a public inquiry – as an organisation in its own right and via member letter writing campaigns. We have also continued to advertise when appropriate, and mount poster campaigns. Our ability to successfully run these campaigns has been helped by a successful fund raising campaign.   

Other News: LAAG welcomes British Energy’s decision to object to the large scale development of Lydd Airport. The company has opposed the current planning application on the basis of the “potential additional aircraft accident hazard to the safe operation of Dungeness B Power Station” and because of the “potential additional aircraft accident hazard on the safe operation of potential new build at Dungeness” ie Dungeness C. Dungeness is amongst the top 4 sites for a new nuclear build programme.   

LAAG believes that regional airports should not be built close to nuclear power stations as the risk of aircraft crash damage is too great. The consulting engineers Large & Associates estimated for the expansion to 500,000 passengers per annum (ppa) at Lydd Airport that the overall risk of a commercial airliner accidentally crashing onto the Dungeness Nuclear Power Plant site was 14.5X higher than the acceptable risk guideline imposed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) in order to maintain the nuclear safety case, and at 2,000,000 ppa, 24.4X higher.  

LAAG also welcomes the decision of Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council to object to the planning application. Kent County Council objected on the basis of the inability to conclude that there would not be a negative impact upon the integrity of the international and national environmental designations surrounding the airport, while Ashford Borough Council’s objections centred on the inability to make a decision due to the inadequacy of the information provided by the airport. 

                    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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 11 Q2 & Q3 2007

Planning Application Update: Lydd Airport filed planning applications for a 444m runway extension and a new terminal on December 18th, 2006 - Y0/1647/SH and Y06/1648/SH. The public consultation was completed officially on March 5th 2007, although Shepway District continued to receive submissions, including LAAG’s, after the close period. LAAG argued that even on the basis of the inadequate information provided in the Environmental Statements there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that planning permission for both applications should be refused. LAAG’s 150 page submission including individual consultants reports (see LAAG’s website www.lyddairportaction.co.uk) also highlighted that (a) the planning applications were riddled with errors. In some sections virtually every paragraph could be challenged and (b) that crucial material had been omitted from the Environmental Statements or had been poorly scoped so that the findings were inadequate.   

Shepway District Council has assessed all submissions and has returned to the airport requesting additional information. There will be another consultation before Shepway District Council makes its final decision. Since the airport has yet to agree to the final catalogue of additional information required to satisfy Shepway District Council, the determination of this planning application is many months away.  

Nuclear Safety: LAAG attended a meeting of NuSAC (Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee) on July 5th to raise awareness of the specific safety issues at Dungeness resulting from the proposed development of Lydd Airport and to lobby for wider principles to be established to ensure regional airports are not established close to nuclear power stations. This was NuSAC’s first open public meeting. Only five members of the public attended which gave LAAG an excellent opportunity to present its case. In the end it was acknowledged that the Lydd Airport situation required examination by the Committee.   

Other Marketing Initiatives:
We have re-started our local “60 Seconds to Disaster” advertising campaign in Shepway and will have a banner running on the Rye and Battle Observer’s website from August (www.ryeandbattleobserver.co.uk or www.hastingsobserver.co.uk or www.bexhillobserver.co.uk ). We will use the recently published book Wildflowers of Dungeness by Heather Silk and Barbara Gray to help raise awareness of what is at stake if Lydd Airport is allowed to expand on the scale proposed. This book only captures a small proportion of the huge range of plants that grow at Dungeness which is a unique nutrient deficient habitat of vegetated shingle and acid grasslands.  Many of the plants growing at Dungeness would thus be adversely affected by the enrichment caused by the deposition of nitrogen derived from NOx produced as a result of fuel combustion from large aircraft. We will continue to respond to government consultations whenever they present an opportunity to promote the implications of our case. After the planning White Paper we will make contributions to the Energy White Paper. 

We continue to work closely with other organisations - particularly the RSPB which is devoting considerable resources to fighting this campaign - successfully promoting the issue nationally and funding promotional material such as posters, car stickers and T-Shirts (available at the RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve Visitor Centre, (suggested donation £10 ).

 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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 10 Q1 2007

Planning Application: Lydd Airport filed planning applications for a 444m runway extension and a new terminal on December 18th, 2006 - Y0/1647/SH and Y06/1648/SH. These plans can be viewed on Shepway District Council’s website, www.shepway.gov.uk. The associated Environmental Statements are extensive and cover many social, environmental and technical issues. They are also punctuated by omissions, inaccuracies and inconsistencies which we will address when responding to Shepway District Council. We do not expect this planning application to be determined by Shepway District Council until the second half of 2007 since there are Council elections on May 3rd and outstanding information to be provided by statutory consultees.   

Marketing: Despite over two years of campaigning the level of awareness of Lydd Airport’s development proposal remains low. We have attempted to counter this by stepping up our marketing post the filing of the planning application - weekly full page ads in local papers, leafleting (13,000 to date) and weekly press releases. Our LAAG meetings with guest speakers have attracted good attendances - over 200 people at the Lydd Community hall on January 12th for John Large, the nuclear safety expert and over 150 people at the Dymchurch Village Hall on January 31st for the aviation consultant, Malcolm Spaven. We also presented to caravan park owners/managers on February 8th at the New Romney Caravan Park. Attendance was disappointing despite contacting 40 caravan site owners on Romney Marsh. Unfortunately January/February is “caravan down time” and many owners were on holiday. A few of the caravan park owners were in favour of the development, in the mistaken belief that there would be inward tourism and that people would be prepared to stay in caravans 1000/1500 ft under a flight path. We also presented to Shepway District Council and have a number of Parish Council presentations pending. We continue to work closely with the RSPB who had their own successful Public Meeting on February 7th - filling the visitor centre at Dungeness with over 100 people.  

LAAG’s Response: LAAG is preparing its response and we have been given permission to file a late submission by Shepway District Council. We are combining in-house professional expertise with that of outside consultants. So far we have engaged the nuclear safety expert John Large of Large & Associates, the aviation consultant, Malcolm Spaven of Spaven Consulting, two invertebrate specialists, and we are waiting confirmation of engagements in transport and hydrology - all of whom will contribute to LAAG’s response.  

We have also engaged a leading environmental lawyer and partner in Bond Pearce LLP, John Houghton to investigate whether the Habitats Directive has been correctly applied to Lydd Airport’s proposal. We are particularly concerned about the nature of the planning applications which have been submitted with supporting Environmental Statements based on considerably lower passenger numbers than the airport’s real objective which is to grow passenger numbers to 2million passengers per annum (2mppa) by 2015. The Environmental Statement for the runway extension is based on 300,000 passengers per annum and 500,000ppa for the terminal. We believe that the planning application should have been based on 2million passengers as this is the airport’s widely stated intention - or at least that for the runway extension as runways dictate airport’s underlying capacity. The 444m runway extension is only predicated on 300,000ppa whereas it will give the airport the infrastructure to easily achieve its 6mppa longer term goal.  

Under the Habitats Directive Shepway District Council must undertake an Appropriate Assessment to determine whether the proposal will adversely affect the European designations at Dungeness - the Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the Special Protection Area (SPA) and a proposed RMSAR site. If the proposal is shown to adversely affect these areas the development cannot proceed unless it is in the over-riding public interest which we believe could not be argued in this case particularly when there is an alternative solution to the development - Manston Airport. The problem arises because Shepway District Council is only doing an Appropriate Assessment based on 500,000ppa. We believe the Appropriate Assessment should be based on 2mpppa. If Bond Pearce LLP find in our favour then the planning application would need to be resubmitted based on 2mppa.  

The direct impacts on the SAC will be caused by the runway extension which cuts across the top of the SAC and the need to create a 150m safety zone on either side of the centre line of the runway which will also eat into the SAC. This will lead to the need to fill in a large species rich pond which is close to the runway. In addition there are the indirect impacts on habitats caused by air and noise pollution.  

The Employment Case:  Shepway District Councillors will vote on the recommendations made by their planning officers as to whether this planning application should be accepted or rejected. It is therefore vital that we address the issue of employment as many councillors want employment at any cost which means other issues such as the environment will be ignored when it comes to making a decision about the airport. Some LAAG members are concerned about LAAG’s adoption of the nuclear issue in our campaign. We are merely promoting the facts. The government is resuscitating the nuclear power industry, first preference is being given to existing sites and Dungeness is one of the top five new build sites which mean Dungeness C is highly likely. Dungeness C will replace Dungeness A &B. Many councillors believe that they can have both - a new nuclear power station and a new airport. We are pointing out that councillors must choose one or the other. If SDC votes for a regional airport this will jeopardise Dungeness C - nuclear regulations preclude large aircraft flying frequently beside a nuclear power station and the heavy movement of people - all for safety issues. We argue that a nuclear power station provides more employment, better quality employment and does not lead to the destruction of tourist employment on Romney Marsh or the environment through urbanisation and noise and air pollution.  

SEERA, Examination in Public (EIP): LAAG attended the Examination in Public on February 13th - the last consultation for the South East of England Regional Assembly’s (SEERA’S) South East Plan. In planning law this plan will take over from the various County Council Structure plans which mean in Kent it will supersede the Kent & Medway Structure Plan. At the EIP the various factions sat around a table before an Inspector and discussed outstanding issues, one being Lydd Airport.   

SEERA after strong lobbying in earlier consultations deleted any reference to Lydd Airport in the South East Plan, deeming the airport to be of local, not regional significance. The EIP provided the last opportunity for interested parties to challenge this, and other decisions. Predictably Lydd Airport argued for Lydd Airport to be reinstated in the South East plan. But this time Lydd Airport was supported by Kent County Council who wants the policy it has in the Kent & Medway Structure Plan (TP25) included in the South East Plan. This policy (TP25) favours development of Lydd Airport subject to very strict conditions but KCC now wants to modify the wording to include development up to 2mppa. This is astounding as Kent County Council eliminated the reference to “development up to 2mppa” in TP25 after strong lobbying by LAAG and others. Kent County Council justified this change of heart by saying that when they first saw the airport it was run down so therefore did not justify their support, but having visited it after £10m had been spent on upgrading facilities they thought it warranted support! We can only hope the Inspector is a sensible person. No conclusions are made at EIP hearings. All will be revealed in the Inspector’s Report. 

       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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 9 Q4 2006

Latest News: Planning Update and Concerns: Lydd Airport now claims the planning application for the 444m runway extension and new terminal will be submitted in November, although this date is not set in stone as the Airport continues to consult with Shepway District Council about the timing. We believe the filing of the planning application must be delayed until all the vital information prescribed in the Scoping Opinion for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed. We know that important elements of the EIA have been ignored - in particular the vital issue of nuclear safety has not been addressed. This requires revised crash damage safety cases for Dungenesss A & B. An important radar based migratory bird study has also been excluded, while the wintering bird study has not been completed. 

The revised aircraft crash damage safety cases have not commenced and the process will take at least a year to complete. The safety cases will be prepared by the respective nuclear power station operators, British Energy, (Dungeness B) and Magnox (Dungeness A), and will be based on projected aircraft movements supplied by Lydd Airport. The completed safety cases will then be reviewed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the HSE will advise Shepway District Council (SDC). The planning application cannot be determined by Shepway District Council until the HSE has advised on nuclear safety. LAAG is urging SDC to encourage the airport to delay the filing of its planning application until the safety cases are completed as this will save all parties time and money. 

LAAG believes the aircraft crash damage safety cases will fail. Our belief is confirmed by the work carried out by LAAG’s nuclear safety advisor John Large of Large & Associates. LAAG engaged John Large to quantify the probability of aircraft crash damage on the basis of the target 2million passengers per annum (mppa). John’s conclusions were disturbing - particularly the following: Lydd Airport’s proposed development would exceed the minimum acceptable risk by a factor of 20 - a probability of 1:500,000 years versus 1:10,000,000 as set out in P119 of the Safety Assessment Principles for Nuclear Plants.  

When the application is submitted the public will be granted more than the statutory 21 days to respond and Shepway District Council is likely to delay making a decision beyond the normal 16 weeks recommended for applications accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment (see last Bulletin for the chronology should the application be called in for a public Inquiry). 

English Nature - New Designation

English Nature (now called Natural England) has designated a new enlarged Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) called The Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay SSSI. This designation has been created by consolidating eight existing Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and by extending boundaries in a number of important areas including Lydd Airport. This enlargement demonstrates the national importance of the shingle foreland, sand dune, saltmarsh, open water and grazing marsh habitats in the Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay area.  

Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) welcomes the decision to surround the runway at Lydd Airport with SSSI designated land as we believe it is crucial for the long term survival of this important habitat. The newly designated land covers the entire area where Lydd Airport management has proposed to build a 444 metre runway extension. The proposed extension of the runway and the new runway safety margin will directly impinge on the new SSSI designated by English Nature and the existing Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a European designation.  

Noise Test: The airport plans to conduct a noise test before the planning application is filed by flying a Boeing 737 over the area. Please, when making noise complaints to the airport give your full name, address and telephone number to ensure the complaint is registered (see previous newsletter for the noise reporting procedure).  

  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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 8 Q3 2006

Latest News: Planning Update: Lydd Airport claims it signed off the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on July 28th and will be consulting Shepway District Council over the coming weeks about the timing of their planning application. We know that important elements of the EIA have been ignored (the nuclear safety case and radar based migratory bird studies) or not completed (the wintering bird study). We believe all vital information in the EIA must be completed before the planning application is filed. Fortunately government policy is in our favour and we believe the planning application will be delayed until the requisite information is provided.  

When the application is submitted the public will be granted more than the statutory 21 days in which to respond. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) (was Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) has the right to call in the application for a public inquiry at any time after it is submitted. The proposal in our view satisfies 4 of the 5 criteria used to assess whether a planning application should be called in. However, the normal route to a call in is thus - if Shepway District Council is minded to grant permission for the development and there are grounds for a call in, the application will be passed to the DCLG’s office for review. This department then has 21 days in which to make a decision. If Shepway rejects the planning application, the DCLG does not get involved. The Airport has the right to appeal. 

Latest News: Energy Review Implications: The government’s decision to back the construction of new nuclear power stations raises the issue of nuclear safety - particularly aircraft crash damage risk. Since the last AGR construction programme over 30 years ago there has been a significant increase in aviation and airports have expanded to meet this demand. Local airports are expanding to become regional airports with all the associated dangers when they are located close to nuclear power stations. The position at Dungeness is particularly worrying since Lydd Airport is located less than 3 miles away and the airport is planning to expand from a small local airport to a busy regional airport carrying 2million passengers per annum using heavy jet aircraft weighing up to 70 tonnes.  The nuclear safety consultant John Large believes Lydd Airport’s proposed development would exceed the nuclear regulator’s minimum acceptable risk criteria by a factor of 20 - 1:500,000 versus the guidelines set by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of 1:10,000,000. LAAG will continue to lobby to ensure that regional airports are not built or operated close to nuclear reactors since the risks are too great. We believe restricted flight zones around nuclear power stations should be strictly enforced for commercial passenger aircraft.   

NuSAC: LAAG lobbied the various nuclear regulators early in the year and had the most promising response from the Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee (NuSAC). This body which meets 3 times per year and has its own experts advises the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on matters which require attention regarding nuclear safety policy. In practice NuSAC sets principles for the nuclear power industry. NuSAC is totally independent and effectively acts as the final overseer in the industry - it could for example, oppose the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. LAAG’s request not to site regional airports near nuclear power station was noted as an issue at NuSAC’s July 6th meeting and one that needs revisiting. The issue will be raised again (and hopefully addressed) in the organisation’s November meeting when NuSAC will be fully conversant with the contents of the Energy review which was published on July 11th.  

Nuclear Decommissioning: LAAG voiced its concerns to the HSE in the Dungeness A Decommissioning Consultation - although these concerns were recognised they were not acted upon because the planning application for the development has not been submitted.  

Latest News: Lydd Airport Flight Paths: At a LAAG meeting at the Lydd Community Hall on Thursday June 29th, 2006, the aviation consultant, Malcolm Spaven presented a flight path analysis to over 200 LAAG members. He confirmed that commercial passenger aircraft will use the more precise Instrument Landing System (ILS) rather than the NDB/DME approach procedure. The Lydd Airport ILS will have a 5 degree offset from the centre line and 3.5 degree glide path due to the need to avoid the Hythe Military Ranges. The consultant confirmed that this is the only civil airport in the UK with an ILS with a 5degree offset from the centre line which means a manual flight path adjustment must be made 900metres from touchdown. This means Lydd Airport will have a more difficult ILS landing procedure than other airports and this makes a missed approach more likely.  

The ILS approach path which was published by the CAA on June 8th starts over Lyminge at 2900ft, crossing Dymchurch between 1900ft and 1600ft, St Mary’s Bay between 1500ft and 1200ft, Littlestone between 660ft and 530ft and Dunes Road Greatstone at 380ft. There will be no ILS for aircraft landing from the South West due to restricted airspace over the Lydd Military Ranges (4000ft) and the Dungeness Nuclear Power Stations (2000ft).   

Mr Spaven also outlined the preferred routes after take off from either runway 21 (towards Lydd -westerly winds) or runway 03 (towards Greatstone - easterly winds) with flights to France and Italy going directly over Camber, flights to Spain and Portugal over Rye, flights to Germany, Netherlands and Scandinavia over Hythe and Folkestone and flights to Scotland and Ireland over Romney Marsh towards Maidstone (Detling).  

Mr Spaven confirmed that all commercial aircraft taking off from runway 21 (towards Lydd) would be required to make a sharp right hand turn to avoid the Lydd Ranges and would pass over Lydd before beginning their on-ward routings. He also added that this procedure was challenging for fully loaded passenger aircraft because of the requirement to simultaneously meet the CAA’s noise abatement procedures while avoiding the Lydd Ranges.  

Postal Charges: The basis for pricing post changes on August 21st  to include size as well as weight. We will no longer be able to send mail in large envelopes as the cost increases from 23p to 37p, although we can still send smaller letters for 23p. If you are a LAAG member who obtained the internet after joining - could we have your e-mail address please to cut postage costs.  

SAVE ROMNEY MARSH - SUPPORT OUR CALL FOR A PUBLIC INQUIRY

Newsletter 7 Q2 2006

Latest News: CAA Approved Landing Flight Paths: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has approved the operation of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Lydd Airport starting on June 8th, 2006.  The ILS has a steeper than normal 3.5 degree glide path (normally 3degree) and 5 degree offset (normally zero) from the centre line of the runway. This is necessary because of the flight restrictions over the military ranges at Lydd and Hythe. The result is bad news for residents as the centre beam of the ILS which will be used to guide passenger aircraft onto the runway will not be out to sea as claimed by Lydd Airport management in presentations on numerous occasions.   

Malcolm Spaven of Spaven Consulting has analysed the flight paths for LAAG and has confirmed LAAG’s belief that the centre line of the ILS will be inland of the Hythe Ranges. The ILS starts over Lyminge (2800ft), crossing the M20 near junction 11, passing to the seaward side of Lympne and over the Royal Military Canal at St Botolphs Bridge (2600ft). The ILS centre line then passes over Dymchurch (1500ft), running along the beach at St Mary’s Bay (1200ft) before passing inland of Romney Bay House (800ft), across Littlestone Golf Course, meeting Littlestone Road between Madeira Road and St Andrews Road (600ft) before passing over the middle of Dunes Road in Greatstone (<400ft).  

We believe Lydd Airport will be the only passenger airport in the UK to have a landing procedure with a 5degree offset. Since the centre line of the ILS is offset from the runway, pilots must make a manual late stage correction to turn aircraft on to the centre line. This means Lydd Airport will have a more difficult landing procedure, making a missed approach more likely. 

The CAA has also published an alternative instrument based flight path using an NDB/DME (Non Directional Beacon/Distance Measurement Equipment) approach procedure which will be used primarily when the ILS is not functioning.  This flight path is further inland than the ILS approach. The NDB/DME centre line passes between Burmarsh and Newchurch on Romney Marsh, over Marlie Farm on the outskirts of New Romney, with the final approach over Shortlands School.    

In addition, the CAA has published a holding area for aircraft waiting to join the approach path in order to land. This holding pattern covers a wide area of Romney Marsh and its surrounding areas stretching between Newchurch, Ivychurch and Bromley Green.  

Airport Meetings: Lydd Airport held a series of meetings starting at New Romney on April 5th and finishing at Rye on May 31st, conveniently timed to be completed before June 8th. In the presentations the airport showed outline plans of flight paths but refused to give detailed information about them on the basis that they had not yet been published by the CAA.  The meetings revealed little new information.  

Airport Passengers: The airport had 2800 passengers in 2005 compared to 4000 in 2004. These figures include Fly & Dine passengers.  

Planning Update: The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which must be filed with the planning application is now expected to be completed by July and the planning application filed in Q3. Again we believe there will be slippage on this date because of the scale and complexity of information that must be covered by the EIA. 

What is LAAG Doing?: We as an organisation continue to vigorously lobby to raise awareness of Lydd Airport’s proposed development and concerns related to the change of use from a local to regional airport. We have widely marketed the conclusions of the work undertaken for LAAG by the nuclear safety expert, John Large of Large & Associates - namely that the proposed development would exceed the nuclear regulator’s minimum acceptable risk criteria by a factor of twenty - 1:500,000 versus the guidelines set by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of 1:10,000,000. Our target audience has included the Cabinet, relevant members of the opposition, relevant government departments, CAA, British Energy and the various bodies regulating the nuclear power industry. The responses have varied from effective dismissal, to a belief that there are sufficient safety nets within the planning process to safeguard the Dungeness site, to the more enlightened response from NuSAC (Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee) that this may be time to take a fresh look at the siting of new nuclear installations and the subsequent control of development around these installations. 

We recently engaged the Aviation Consultant, Malcolm Spaven of Spaven Consulting to analyse the flight path routes so that we can communicate both the actual flight path positions to local residents and assess any safety issues that may arise due to the challenges posed by the physical constraints in the area (military ranges and nuclear power stations).  Malcolm has completed the landing flight paths and will report on the take off routes later in the month. His analysis has confirmed our earlier work that the flight paths are inland and not out to sea.  

Increase in Noise and Noise Reporting: After the new instrument approach procedures are published on June 8th there could be more activity at the airport even if the airport fails in its bid to attract small airlines such as Flybe. (The airport is currently attempting to gain business from airlines able to operate on the exiting runway using smaller turbo prop aircraft.)  FAL Aviation UK is promoting pilot training for both instrument approaches (ILS and NDB/DME), which if successful, will lead to increased activity at the airport. Hence, we are repeating our noise procedures.  

First, call the airport (01797 322 400/411/403) 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 Barton, The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX, 01797 361 548, blmbarton@aol.com

Newsletter 6 Q1 2006

Latest News: Lydd Airport Removed from SEERA’s South East Plan

On March 1st The South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) announced the changes to the South East Plan and revealed that the reference to Lydd Airport and development to 2mppa in Policy EKA3 has been deleted. Lydd Airport was deemed to have no regional significance and will be dealt with from a planning perspective at the local level in Shepway District Council’s Local Development Framework. Manston has been nominated as a regional airport and growth up to 6million passengers per annum is supported.  

This is a highly significant development as the new regional planning framework which will be enshrined in law (when the South East Plan is signed off in 2008) does not support Lydd Airport’s regional airport ambitions and this will make it more difficult for the airport to undertake large scale development, although it will not stop the airport from making its planning application as there are many facets to this issue.  LAAG’s letter writing campaign contributed to this excellent result.    

Background to SEERA’s Decision

The South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) is administering a new planning regime which will ultimately take over from the existing regime which encompasses County and Local Structure plans revised every 5-10 years. The starting point is the regional planning framework embodied in the South East Plan. This provides a broad vision of the South East Region through to 2026, addressing issues such as housing, the environment and transport. (Local policy will be set by the Local Development Framework and the old Local and County Structure Plans will no longer be produced.) When the South East Plan is signed off it will become a legal document and local authorities and other government agencies in the in the South East will be forced to follow the guidance it provides.  

LAAG members contributed to the first Consultation on the South East Plan in March 2005 (consultation closed April 15th, 2005) arguing that the reference to 2mppa must be removed from policy EKA3 as the airport was not suitable for large scale development. In the end we achieved a better result as the reference to Lydd Airport was deleted altogether. For various technical reasons the decision on these policies was not taken until March 2006. Unfortunately this is not the end of the consultation process on the South East Plan. There are more consultations to come – the document will go to the government for its consultation, there will be an examination in public and a modifications consultation before the plan is signed off in 2008. It is always possible that the decision on Lydd Airport could be reversed but we believe it is unlikely.  In the meantime the Kent & Medway Structure plan rules in planning law and this supports development at Lydd Airport, although the 2mppa goal has also been deleted and strict conditionality placed on development (see last newsletter).  

Lydd Airport and Nuclear Safety

Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) held a member’s meeting on Wednesday, February 15th, 2006 at which the leading nuclear safety consultant, John Large of John Large & Associates gave a presentation to almost 200 people about the dangers of operating a regional airport beside a nuclear power station. LAAG engaged John because we are concerned about the change of circumstances at Lydd Airport - currently a local airport catering for light aircraft under 5.7m tonnes, it plans to develop into a regional airport catering for 2million passengers per annum by 2011 using Boeing 737s weighing 70tonnes fully loaded. This will increase the risk of aircraft crash damage at the Dungeness Nuclear Power complex which is less than 3miles away. In addition, locating a regional passenger airport close to a high profile nuclear power station site increases the accessibility for terrorist attack. 

John’s conclusions were disturbing - particularly the following: Lydd Airport’s proposed development would exceed the nuclear regulator’s minimum acceptable risk criterion by a factor of twenty - one in five hundred thousand versus the guidelines set by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of one in ten million.  

Even when Dungeness A is decommissioned in 2006-2008 the reactor hulks will remain for at least 25 years and contain tons of volatile radioactive material. 

John Large of Large & Associates recommended that: (1) British Energy and British Nuclear Fuels, the nuclear power operators should reassess the risks and consequences of the proposed introduction of fully loaded Boeing 737s. (2) The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate should scrutinise the revised safety cases against its own safety principles. (3)The planning authorities should give greater priority to the assessment of aircraft crash damage in the planning process and review the emergency evacuation plan. 

How has LAAG used this information?

John Large’s research is being used to make representations to relevant companies, and departments at government, county and district level. They include: the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency, British Energy, Civil Aviation Authority, Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology, Nuclear Safety Directorate, Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee, Office of Civil Nuclear Security, Health & Safety Executive, Air transport Management Division of the Department of Transport, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Department of Trade & Industry and Emergency Planning at KCC. In addition, we have contacted the relevant government ministers. The LAAG member letter writing campaign will also be focussed on government ministers.  The nuclear safety issue has been LAAG’s main focus in this quarter and will remain so. However, we continue to raise awareness of the airport’s proposed development through presentations to councils and other bodies - presenting to the Transport Committee of the Ashford Borough Council on February 24th. 

Planning Update: The planning application must be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).  At the Airport Consultative Committee in January the airport stated that it hoped the revised EIA would be completed by the end of March but admitted this was an ambitious target.  Given the complexity of the issues that must be addressed by the EIA we believe it is unlikely to be completed until later in the year, and the planning application filed at the end of the year at the earliest.  

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 Barton
The Hook, Madeira Road, Littlestone TN28 8QX
01797 361 548
blmbarton@aol.com