Howard not opposed to Lydd Airport expansion

Contributed by editor on Apr 11, 2005 - 05:48 PM


Local MP Michael Howard has said he is not opposed in principle to the expansion at Lydd Airport.

He says there is a need for more employment on Romney Marsh and with the impending closure of the Dungeness Power Station, there is a need for more employment opportunities in the area.

Mr Howard said: "No planning application has yet been submitted so it is not yet possible for a definitive view to be reached. But I am not opposed, in principle, to some limited expansion. With the impending closure of the power stations at Dungeness, there is a real need for employment opportunities on the Marsh. I do not accept that people on the Marsh should all be expected to go to Ashford to find work.

“But it is vital that if expansion is to take place it should be done with the maximum respect for the amenities of local residents. In order to achieve this I have encouraged the fullest possible dialogue between the airport operators and those who may be, or fear they may be, affected by these proposals.

“I have also put forward a new suggestion.

“When the Channel Tunnel terminal was under construction the residents of Newington, Peene and Frogholt were very anxious about its effects on them. But they did not want to be forced to make up their minds there then. They wanted time to see whether they would, in fact, be affected.

“So I negotiated a unique compensation package for them. Not only were they offered full compensation at market value for their properties but the offer was held open for 10 years. Over this period the compensation on offer was index linked to the value of other properties in the area to guarantee that they would not lose out.

“I have now put forward a similar suggestion to the operators of Lydd Airport. Their initial response has been positive and I hope that all the details can be worked out satisfactorily. Fortunately the model, in the form of the Channel Tunnel scheme, is there for all to see.

“This proposal will not, of course, put an end to the controversy over the airport’s plans. There are many people who object to it for many different reasons. But I hope it will at least allay the anxieties of those who undoubtedly fear that the value of their property could fall.

“I shall certainly involve myself fully in the discussions which will doubtless take place on this issue. I hope my proposal will help.