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DARTFORD: Planes could fly over borough if Thames Estuary airport is built
AN AIRPORT in the Thames Estuary could put Dartford beneath low flying planes - less than two weeks after it avoided being in Heathrow’s flightpath.
On Friday (January 23) Mayor of London Boris Johnson visited the Thames Estuary to look at potential sites for a new airport, saying afterwards it must be considered “an option for London’s long-term aviation needs”.
A report into the feasibility of the airport has been commissioned by Mr Johnson and will be complete by March, but his spokesman said “details such as flightpaths have yet to be discussed”.
However the chairman of an organisation which campaigns on behalf of people affected by airplane flightpaths says the airport “would put Dartford at risk of having a lot of planes flying low overhead.”
HACAN Clear Skies chairman John Stewart said: “The airport is being sold on the basis that planes will fly in and out over the sea, but if planes land from one direction they have to take-off from the other direction.
“They have to show us where the flight paths will be, because my feeling is Dartford and other places in north Kent are at risk of having a lot of planes flying over.”
The borough faced a similar threat two weeks ago when Government plans for Heathrow expansion included changing the point in the sky at which planes turn to enter the airport.
However Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon scrapped the idea.
Dartford resident Kim Sandford, aged 49, of Latham Close, said: “I was so relieved when I heard the Heathrow planes would not be flying over the town, so I’m now very worried that Thames Estuary flights could go overhead.
“The noise could be unbearable.”
Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kyte is also against an airport in the Thames Estuary, saying he is “concerned it will have a negative effect on Dartford’s residents, in terms of noise and air pollution.”
The so-called ‘island’ airport could be built in as little as six years, and the London mayor is backing the scheme as an alternative to a third runway at Heathrow.
He said: “With Gatwick full to bursting and Heathrow’s third runway bitterly contested – and I bet it never gets built – it is ever more urgent that we investigate the possibility of a long-term solution in the form of a new and more eco-friendly international airport at a site in the Thames estuary.”
The Thames Estuary is home to around a quarter of a million birds every winter, and north Kent RSPB branch member David James says an airport’s “impact on the environment would be colossal”.
He said: "We strongly oppose anything that threatens wildlife in the area and this will have a big impact on the bird population and wildlife in the Thames Estuary.
“Habitat would disappear and that would be through the building of infrastructure alone."
However, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said the report into the feasibility of an airport “will look at the impact in the area and surrounding areas”.