People power comes through in Thames estuary airport campaign
PUBLISHED: 10:00 20 July 2012
Pressure group sets up commission to discuss issue
People power is emerging in the Thames estuary campaign with protesters setting up their own commission to discuss the controversial issue.
In a rally call, pressure group Demand Regeneration in North Kent (DRINK) urged political leaders to get involved in a “grown up” debate on the vital issue.
Chairman Neville Gaunt said DRINK had formed a commission of interested local people to find out the answers to the key question: what will the impact be from the hub airport?
He stressed that, whatever the final outcome, the area needed to be ready.
“As the time draws near for the government to publish its consultation document on aviation policy, there is a growing belief that our communities need to be prepared to face the consequences of the decision,” he said.
“If the green light is given for one or other of the proposals, we will have to be ready with our response as failure to do this will mean we cannot hope to get the best deal for our people.
“If the ideas which impact directly on north Kent are all turned down, we will have to find ways, using little or no public cash, to generate the prosperity we desperately need to eliminate poverty and give our children a positive future.”
Members of DRINK stress the group is neither pro nor anti-airport, with their agenda to create jobs and prosperity in the area.
Campaign director at DRINK Clive Lawrence said all people want is a resolution.
“This isn’t about pro or anti airport – this is about being prepared and getting the best of what we can from whatever outcome there is,” he said.
“We want more jobs and more prosperity; a better future for everyone. Some of us at DRINK think an airport will deliver that and some of us think it won’t – but we need to find out.
“How can we say yes or no until we have more information?
“This is why we’ve set up a commission, to find out the facts from people who know about this.”
He said a report would be published in around a month’s time ahead of the Government consultation, which was delayed for a second time last week.
The anticipated review, which is wanted from both supporters and opposition of the airport, was first scheduled for March and pushed back until July.
Now it has been delayed again, this time until the autumn.
Mr Lawrence accused politicians of dithering, calling them “cowards” for not pushing ahead with a decision over the controversial issue.
Anti-airport campaigners said it had once again left people in north Kent in limbo.
A spokesman for Protect Kent, the county’s branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England, said it was extremely disappointed.
“We feel that the sooner the consultation is held, the sooner we can get these plans dismissed and residents of north Kent will know they are safe from this potentially environmentally devastating proposal,” he said.
Options for an estuary airport include ‘Boris Island’ – London Mayor Boris Johnson’s proposal for an airport on reclaimed land off the north Kent coast. Another is from architect Lord Foster, who released plans for an international transport hub on Grain.