News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lydd Airport - Folkestone decides

This evening Folkestone Town Council made its submission to Shepway District Council on the proposed expansion of Lydd Airport. We had two hours of presentations and questions with both the Lydd Airport Action Group, who oppose the expansion, and the owners of the airport. The information supplied by the two groups did not tally, leaving us with two versions of the truth. We didn't feel able to accept either, concluding that the truth lies somewhere in between. We certainly didn't have the expertise to comment, and I very much doubt that Shepway District Council's planning department do either.

The final decision, which obtained majority agreement, was the proposal by my fellow Conservative Councillor, Richard Theobold, which I seconded. Namely, the decision should be taken by a full public enquiry, thus ensuring that those taking the decision have all of the available evidence and are able to make an informed decision.

I would have to say that the LAAG presentation was particularly concerning. Their presentation contained statements that councillors considered to be inaccurate. I actually think they undermined their case. The Airport also had some bizarre claims - I don't believe that 500,000 passengers per year will create one extra car journey per hour at junction 10 of the M20 for even one moment!


Anonymous said...

Dan- The airport's car travel figures do seem unlikely, but what were the blatantly false statements by LAAG?

Dan Hassett said...

There were several issues raised in the meeting. For example, Cllr Hugh Robertson-Ritchie pointed out that the maps provided by LAAG did not correspond with Ordinance Survey maps and made it appear that the fligh-path would bring aeroplanes much closer to both homes and the power stations at Dungeness. From Cllr Paul Fox's line of questionning it also became clear that the "membership" of more than 2700 consisted of a database of names rather than a membership, as there is no fee to join. At face value a figure of 2700 sounds impressive, but when it is known that that is merely a database, it becomes considerably less so, given that Lydd, New Romney Coast, New Romney Town and Dymchurch & St Mary's Bay wards have a combined electorate of approximately 15,000.

I also considered the suggestions about noise levels to be rather exaggerated. Having spent the previous Sunday in South Nutfield, which is about the same distance from Gatwick as Dymchurch is from Lydd, and heard flights overhead, I really can't see any need for people in Folkestone to be concerned about the noise. As Folkestone Town Council is only allowed to consider planning applications in relation to the affect they will have on Folkestone, the noise claims were total nonsense.

I was also highly concerned that the entire LAAG presentation was based on 2 million passengers per annum, whereas the application was for an expansion to 300,000-500,000 passengers per annum. We were not in a position to consider any possible future application for futher expansion. Louise Barton's assertion that the arguments against the application were equally applicable to the applications in hand simply did not stack up, as there's a huge difference between 2 million and 1/2 million.

Dan Hassett said...

I've slightly altered the original article, following an email I received from Zaher Deir, the Managing Director of Lydd Airport. He pointed out the the one extra vehicle movement per hour applies to Junction 10 of the M20 only. I assume that the transport plan focussed on that junction because it is known as a bottleneck at present.

I agree that he did specifically refer to Junction 10 of the M20 and I have now made that clear. I'm still not convinced by the statistic though. I've seen too many unrealistic transport plans and take them all with a large pinch of salt!