Friday, 17 January 2014

Lydd Airport comes into land at the High Court

The long-running saga over the expansion of Lydd Airport ­- known as London Ashford Airport – continues, with opponents set to have their day at the High Court to challenge the government’s approval of expansion.

Last year, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, granted Lydd Airport permission to extend its runway and build a new terminal to support 500,000 passengers per annum.

In response to the decision, the Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) lodged an appeal under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 with the High Court. The LAAG appeal will now be heard on 23-24 January. The RSPB also appealed, its High Court hearing will take place on 21-22 January. Both appeals have led to a nine-month delay in any work on the proposed expansion.

If the legal challenge finds in favour of LAAG and RSPB, the likely outcome will be the death knell for the £25 million project, which would have seen the extension of the runway by nearly 300 meters and construction of a new terminal building.

Campaigners are opposed to the expansion as the site is close to the Dungeness nuclear plant, an RSPB nature reserve and a military range.

In response, Lydd Airport has said its plans would create jobs, boost tourism and revive a longstanding economic blackspot, as well as providing much-needed additional airport capacity in the South East.

Unfortunately for Lydd, Sir Howard Davies, in his latest announcement on runway capacity in the South East for the Airports Commission overlooked the potential of Lydd offering any significant solution to the capacity debate.

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