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NORTH KENT: Thames Estuary airport report imminent
A STUDY into the feasibility of building an airport in the Thames Estuary is expected next week.
Although no flight paths have been discussed, the estimated £40bn brainchild of Mayor of London Boris Johnson could lead to planes flying low over north Kent.
The airport could be built in as little as six years.
Councils and the RSPB have condemned the plans.
Councillor Paul Carter, the leader of Kent County Council, said: “There is a growing consensus that the Estuary airport is undeliverable, unaffordable and unnecessary.
“There is no need for a third runway at Heathrow. What is needed is a review of the capacity of the existing airports and their transport links – Birmingham to Heathrow, Heathrow to Gatwick, London to Stansted and Manston.
“It makes sense to sweat the assets already available to us in the South East. Kent International Airport at Manston, for example, has one of the longest runways in Europe.
“Manston could, at far less cost be connected to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link domestic services for fast journey times from London to Kent.
“Manston could also handle six million passenger movements a year which would boost the local economy in an area of high deprivation. Far more sensible in our view.”
Chris Corrigan, RSPB Regional Director, said the RSPB opposed the construction of an airport anywhere in the Thames Estuary because of the damage it would cause to the area’s wildlife.
He said: “The airport would damage or destroy huge areas of legally protected habitat. In addition to direct environmental destruction, a new airport would exacerbate climate change, which remains the greatest threat to biodiversity.
“As well as massive environmental damage, there could be a significant risk of birdstrike, as the Thames Estuary is a hub for hundreds of thousands of migrant birds. Even with an aggressive bird hazard management programme (such as shooting or scaring birds away), the bird strike hazard would be up to 12 times higher than at any other major UK airport.”
Both KCC and the RSPB have signed a petition against the airport at stopestuaryairport.co.uk