December 5 2013 Latest news:
Nigel Farage, Leader of Ukip
Friday, May 25, 2012
We should be concentrating on Manston airport in Thanet
It was back in 2003 that a government white paper on ‘The Future of Air Transport’ stated that Manston Airport in Thanet could play a valuable role in meeting local demand and development would contribute to the local regional economy.
We must have an increase in air transport capacity in the South East. Heathrow is not the busiest airport in the world because of the number of people making visits to the UK but because it’s a global hub, making London and the South East attractive to businesses and providing jobs and income from the associated industries including the huge freight business generated by the success of the airport.
‘Boris Island’, as the planned Thames Estuary airport has been named, is simply insane. It is in the middle of nowhere with inadequate infrastructure and as well as taking decades to build it would be damaging to the local environment, particularly the wintering bird populations. It is also inordinately expensive, dwarfing the estimated costs of upgrading Manston and this is without dealing with the question of the SS Richard Montgomery.
Perhaps it’s me being picky, but I wouldn’t like to travel from an airport, let alone work there, which is in the vicinity of a deadly sunken ship from World War Two. An investigation in 2004 concluded that a collision, an attack or even the shifting of the cargo of high explosives in the tide could cause detonation, resulting in a 16ft tidal wave, wiping out Southend and breaking every window in Sheerness.
A suggestion I have been putting forward is the idea of expanding Kent’s airport which already has an extremely long runway and importantly, the potential to expand without the need to knock down residential areas.
Firstly, the flights take off and land next to the sea, which means there is less of a noise impact for local residents, a problem which has blighted Heathrow expansion. And unlike Heathrow, there is only one large conurbation in the vicinity meaning that work can start quickly.
This also means that the rail link to Margate, which is on High Speed 1 and is currently only one hour and two minutes by train into St Pancras, can be built immediately.
Importantly in these economic times, expanding Manston is by far the cheapest option. This country simply does not have the money to throw at a project costing tens of billions of pounds which will take years to complete when we have an ideal solution in an area which is in need of and injection of economic growth.
The economy of Thanet is quite depressed and there is certainly the need of proper employment opportunities. Jobs based around a solid economy such as an international airport and the business centres which will grow based on the increase in infrastructure and people, will be a much needed boost to that part of Kent.
Nigel Farage is a Kent MEP and the leader of Ukip. He lives in Westerham.
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