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Go-ahead for London Ashford Airport expansion

Posted 10 April 2013 · Add Comment

London Ashford Airport (LAA), advised by Indigo Planning, has been given the go-ahead on appeal from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for the £7.6 million expansion of Lydd Airport on Romney Marsh in Kent.

The scheme will increase passenger capacity to 500,000 per year and create more than 300 new jobs for the area.
Under the plans, the airport’s runway will be extended by 294 metres, plus a 150 metre starter extension, so that it can handle passenger flights by aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 737 or Airbus 319.
A new state-of-the-art terminal building will be capable of processing 500,000 passengers per year. 
The airport was first opened in the 1950s and at its height, in the mid 1960s, it carried 250,000 passengers a year to Europe. The current plans will allow it to return to its former function as a small regional airport.
After being supported by the Shepway District Council in March 2010, the expansion plans were called in by the Secretary of State in August 2010 for determination by government ministers. 
The airport, on Romney Marsh, is an environmentally and ecological sensitive area. The key issues related to the impact on nearby bird colonies, national, regional and local aviation policy, potential noise and disturbance for nearby residents, the proximity to the Dungeness nuclear power station and the economic benefits. 
The public inquiry into the evidence for the expansion ran from February to September 2011.
Hani Mutlaq, director of London Ashford Airport, said: “This is great news for the airport and the local community. The airport will soon offer flights to a range of European destinations, as well as opening up this part of Kent as a holiday and business destination, bringing a boost to the tourism industry in this area.”
Sean McGrath, director of Indigo Planning, which has been advising the airport on its development plans since 2005, said: “Our priority has been to balance the economic benefits that expansion will bring to this part of Kent with the need to be sensitive to environmental concerns. This decision demonstrates that economic development can take place in sensitive locations if it is planned correctly.
“Today’s decision will boost airport capacity in the South East, improve the local economy and contribute to the government’s growth agenda. It is encouraging to see that the economic and social benefits of the project have been balanced against environmental concerns.”
Romney Marsh is one of the most deprived areas in the South East region suffering from slow economic growth, high unemployment and long-term contraction of established local industries. The plans will create local jobs, directly and indirectly, plus training and development.
Strict environmental controls will ensure that the special bird populations, flora and fauna of Dungeness will continue to be safeguarded, and noise levels and aircraft numbers and flying times will be capped.

Links to London Ashford International railway station and high-speed trains into Central London are also part of the plans.      

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