Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Thames Estuary Airport ruled out by 'fact based' debate?

Kent Wildlife Trust welcomes a statement by the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, that the UK aviation debate will be based upon “real facts and figures”.
The statement was made by Ms Greening on a visit to Southend Airport, and suggests the Government is resistant to the lobbying and scaremongering of commercial interests. Ideas for airports located in and around the Thames ary have been proposed by various companies and individuals many times since the 1940s. All these ideas were ruled out when looked at in any detail, even long before recognition of the area’s internationally important wildlife.

Ms Greening said: “We are getting to the stage where there is a
question mark over whether we've got the capacity to meet the country's needs."

Sue Young, Head of Conservation and Policy at Kent Wildlife Trust, says: “Assuming a case can be made for more airport capacity, and also assuming that this need cannot be met by making better use of existing resources, even a cursory look at the facts and figures relating to the Thames Estuary, rule it out as an option. It is vital that the Government recognises the economic and social benefits that a healthy, natural environment delivers, and the huge cost that will be borne, should we lose it.

“The idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary has been dismissed so many times it is hard to understand why the Government has not automatically ruled it out as an option from the start.”

While the Government has said all options will be in the consultation on UK aviation policy due later this month, it has also recognised the Thames Estuary’s environmental value by awarding it a share of £7.5 million as one of twelve national Nature Improvement Areas.

Sue Young adds: “Landscape-scale conservation is the fundamental step change that is necessary for the creation of a coherent and resilient ecological network in England, and we welcome the commitment the Government has shown to this the natural environment in the Thames Estuary by identifying it as a Nature Improvement Area.”

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