Press Release: March 25 2013
risks infringing nuclear safety legislation over Lydd Airport
European Commission has written to the UK government regarding its
nuclear safety as a result of Lydd Airport’s proposed expansion.
Lydd Airport is located less than 60 seconds flight time from the
Dungeness nuclear power complex. The runway extension will transform
this small local airport, which operates predominantly light
aircraft, into a regional airport capable of supporting Boeing 737s
and Airbus 320s - aircraft that the nuclear regulator, the Office for
Nuclear Regulation (ONR) acknowledges have the potential to cause its
highest category nuclear accident in the event of a crash.
to a complaint from LAAG over the basis of the ONR’s decision not
to oppose this development and its lack of engagement over this case,
the Commission - after examining the evidence - concluded there were
sufficient concerns to write to the UK government over a potential
infringement of the Nuclear Safety Directive.
The operator of Dungeness B (EDF/British Energy) objected to the development of Lydd Airport in 2007 on the basis that “The large scale increase in air traffic around the site is a risk that should be sensibly avoided in the local and wider public interest ..”.
on the other hand did not oppose the expansion, arguing that the
probability of an aircraft accident at Dungeness resulting from the
introduction of large commercial aircraft at Lydd Airport is so small
it could be ignored. Evidence provided by a number of leading experts
shows that the mathematical model on which the ONR based this
regulatory decision is seriously flawed, yet the ONR continues to
maintain its regulatory position.
requests over a number of years, the ONR has refused to allow the
basis of this decision to be subject to public scrutiny. It has
consistently failed to answer specific questions about well
substantiated concerns surrounding the efficacy of the model, plus
errors in its application and in the advice given to government
departments, mostly revealed through technical papers and email
exchanges obtained via freedom of information requests. Although
it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the ONR operates in
a transparent manner with regard to its regulatory decisions, it has
failed to seek accountability from the ONR, despite the depth of
evidence demonstrating that the basis of its regulatory decision is
Should the government approve the development of Lydd Airport without holding the ONR to account on these matters and satisfactorily answering the questions put to it by the European Commission, it ultimately faces the possibility of the case being referred to the European Court of Justice.
Lydd Airport Action Group
The Hook Madeira Road
Littlestone, TN28 8QX
01797 361 548
Notes to editors:
planning application was submitted to Shepway District Council in
December 2006 (Y06/1647/SH & Y06/1648/SH) for a 444m extension
to its runway and a new terminal to increase its passenger numbers
from < 3000 in 2005 to 500,000 passengers per annum (ppa). (Note
in 2011 there were ~500 passengers). This planning application
represents Phase1 of the airport’s Master Plan objective to
increase passenger numbers to 2million passengers per annum (2mppa).
Council unlawfully determined in
favour of the planning application on
March 3rd 2010.
The controversy surrounding this decision led to a public inquiry.
The Public Inquiry took place
between February 15th,
2011 and September 16th,
the 2011 public inquiry four experts gave evidence on behalf of LAAG
on the possible causes and consequences of an aircraft accident at
the Dungeness nuclear complex and the adequacy of the Byrne model
used by the ONR to justify its regulatory decision not to oppose
Lydd Airport’s planning application. The experts concluded that
this model was not fit for purpose and that it substantially
underestimated the probability of an accident at Dungeness caused by
the introduction of large commercial aircraft at Lydd Airport.
commissioned an additional critique of the Byrne model in early 2012
by a leading expert following the UK nuclear industry’s failure to
address accidental crash damage as part of its European stress test
(safety evaluation) exercise. This paper expanded on the evidence
given to date and confirmed that the model was not fit for purpose
(see details - LAAG press release April 25th,
runway extension at Lydd Airport will allow the commercial operation
of large aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 which weight
over 70 tonnes fully loaded. Currently 99% of activity (movements)
at Lydd Airport is dominated by light aircraft (aircraft weighing <
Lydd Airport’s development proceeds, no other regional airport in
Europe, and possibly the world, will be as close to a nuclear power
Airport is located in a complex operating environment - it is
situated less than 3 miles from the Dungeness nuclear complex and
lies between two army ranges - Lydd Army Range - less than 2 miles
away at the southern end of the runway and Hythe Army Range ~ 8
miles to the north. A major RSPB bird reserve is located between
Lydd Airport and the Dungeness nuclear power complex and the airport
is located under one of the main migratory bird routes in the south
airport is located on the Dungeness Peninsular and is surrounded by
natural habitats protected by European and national legislation.
Dungeness is believed to be one of the most heavily protected areas
in the UK - such is uniqueness of its flora and fauna.
Airport was acquired by Sheikh Fahad al Athel in 2001.
LAAG is an action group formed in 2004 to oppose the large scale development of Lydd airport. LAAG has ~3000 members.