Lydd airport releases ambitious multi-million expansion plans

News Posted 27/05/13
Proposals for a controversial extension to Lydd Airport in Kent could see it offer a broad range of flights to Europe and North Africa

Plans to significantly expand flights from Lydd airport with services to Europe and North Africa could see it become a major regional transport hub.

The ambitious £25 million pound scheme, which has been opposed by residents and wildlife groups including the RSPB, could dramatically increase passenger capability with an additional terminal.

Despite concerns being voiced over the project, the airport’s management believe the move to create a new terminal and 294 metre runway extension would offer a vital economic boost in creating more than two hundred jobs.

It comes as a committee of MPs reject plans favoured by London mayor Boris Johnson to create a new airport dubbed “Boris island” off the north coast of Kent.

The Lydd site, which would serve around 500,000 passengers per year, would also be upgraded with an on-site hotel and other service facilities.

It was given the go-ahead by government planning inspectors, who overruled fears by campaigners over its proximity to Dungeoness power station and area of special scientific interest, which they claimed made it unsuitable.

The owners of Lydd London Ashford Airport are presently conducting further studies on the area’s ecology as part of its consent to expand.

This includes creating a construction environmental management plan with an intention to create an airfield biodiversity panel, working with Natural England and Kent Wildlife Trust to assess the impact on species including grass snakes, common lizards and great crested newts. However, Louise Barton, of Lydd Airport Action Group, said it could not understand how initial approval had been granted given the range of concerns raised.

She said: “The ecology here is extremely vulnerable and with it being near a power station, we do not believe these plans are right and that the decision to allow it was flawed. “We are confident we have a case against this development and we are considering legal action and this has already been taken to the European Commission.”

As a result, the proposals, which have to be formally approved by Shepway District Council, would allow medium-range flights with 737 aircraft serving Europe.

This would add considerably to the present schedules operating a limited range of local flights and weekly leisure flights to Le Touqet, which have gained popularity from celebrity passengers including Sir Paul McCartney.

The airport presently handles around 22,000 aircraft movements a year, which would dramatically increase if it’s plans are given formal approval.

Speaking about the scheme, manager Hani Mutlaq, explained the airport had attempted to work with the community on the project and believed it was viable.

He said: “If we run 737s from here then we will be able to fly across Europe and North Africa within the next few years, as we have good contacts in the industry.

Having been working here for the past 10 years I want to see this happen, but it does not stop here as there is more that we have to do.

We have to complete a environmental risk impact study over the summer into the ecology of the area, if we do not complete this soon, it may mean we have to wait until next year.

I actually think we will be the last to profit from this venture, we are doing this to revive the area’s economy and we will be seeking to use local businesses in the construction phase as a priority.

We have attempted to mitigate against every part of the application to ensure that it is given the go ahead and have held meetings with residents and the RSPB over our plans. We now have evidence from the government that our plans will not be harmful to the area,” added the manager, who revealed a total of £35million had already been spent on the site over the past decade including terminal and lounge upgrades.”

The airport has already showcased its plans for expansion at a global industry event in Dubia last month, with the airport’s management confident concerns over the site’s expansion could be addressed.

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