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People power comes through in Thames estuary airport campaign

PUBLISHED: 10:00 20 July 2012

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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.

3 comments

  • I love living in Medway and don't want to see an airport build as much as everyone else. My issue is that setting up a commission that isn't recognised by anyone, then appointing a director that calls politicans dithering cowards, isn't going to change the minds of anyone at a decision making level.

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    Love Kent

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • In my experience people who set up campaigns are rarely neutral as Clive Lawrence suggests DRINK is, most have an agenda. I would be more likely to participate in this campaign if the leaders of DRINK stated their position (pro or anti) and said if they have any potential financial interest in an airport in the estuary going ahead (eg links to the construction industry that would benefit from the airport being built).

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    Bob Keywood

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

  • Alongside the RSPB and a broad coalition of millions we are wholly opposed to the construction of an airport anywhere in the Thames Estuary because of the immense damage it could cause to the area'sinternationally important wildlife and the wider environment and the impact it would have on carbon emissions. The whole issue was exhaustively investigated between 2002 and 2005 in the Government's Aviation White Paper. All the key players, including the aviation industry, contributed. The idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary was conclusively ruled out. In addition to the unprecedented environmental damage and the resulting massive legal implications, the investigation found that an estuary airport did not make sense economically, would not meet the requirements of the aviation industry and presented a significantly higher risk of 'bird strike' (12x greater) than at any other major airport in the UK. No matter how impressive Boris Johnson's or Lord Foster's plans may look, the threats and the risks remain the same. An airport in the Thames Estuary is a complete non-starter ecologically, environmentally and economically, and to go through all these arguments again is a complete waste of everyone's time The Thames estuary is unique and so large that it could not be recreated anywhere else in Europe, so mitigation( which cannot take place on already designated areas - SPA SAC) is not possible. In fact the RSPB response to the big scale proposals tabled by the likes of Boris Johnson, Sir Norman Foster or Sir Terry Farrell is equally big and grandiose. It is sustainable habitat management of our landscape along the whole Thames Estuary; they call it our Futurescape. Creating an area where development happens sympathetically to enhance and increase the unique natural spaces of the region to benefit people and wildlife. We'll drink to that! Friends of the North Kent Marshes Conservation and Communities United

    Report this comment

    North Marshes

    Friday, July 20, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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