Airport expansion on ‘vital’ nature reserve to be challenged in court

RSPB and locals will fight to protect marsh used by migratory birds at Dungeness

Controversial plans for a major extension to an airport which sits next to one of Britain's most important nature reserves - as well as a nuclear power station - are to be challenged in court, it was announced today.

The RSPB will appeal the outcome of a public inquiry, as well as the government's decision to give permission for the plans to go ahead, in the High Court. And a local campaign group has said it has also launched a High Court challenge in a bid to have the decision quashed and force the government back to the drawing board.

The planned expansion would see the tiny Lydd airport, which welcomed fewer than 500 passengers in 2011, capable of serving more than 500,000-a-year; thereby placing it in Britain's top 30 airports for annual passenger numbers.

But its opponents, some of whom have been fighting for more than 10 years, say that it is under one of the largest migratory bird routes in the South of England and expressed fears its growth could lead to more bird strikes.

The Lydd Airport Action Group is basing its fight on planning grounds because of the proximity to Dungeness Power Station and is bringing action under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The RSPB, on the other hand, is exercising its right to appeal the government's decision, which was taken last month following a public inquiry and inspector's report. The two actions are being taken separately.

Chris Corrigan, the RSPB's south east regional director, said: “Dungeness is one of the most important wildlife sites in the world.

”It is protected at global, European and UK levels. It is home to species found hardly anywhere else in the UK. It is also a crossroads for migrating birds stopping off on their epic global journeys. The stakes are too high to risk the future of one of our best and most important places for nature without testing the basis for this decision which we consider to be flawed.“

A spokesman added that the RSPB was worried about what it called ”perversions“ in the public inquiry. He added: ”Dungeness is of huge importance globally. It would be remiss of us not to ensure that this decision is tested fully where we believe the inspector has not done so.

Louise Barton of the Lydd Airport Action Group said: “This [expansion] is not needed, all sorts of things about it are strange.” She added that the group and its lawyer Matthew Horton QC would be looking for “inconsistencies in the decision-making process”, on which to base their challenge.

The airport, which is also known as London Ashford Airport, is on the Romney Marsh in Kent. The plans, costing £25m, include a 294-metre runway extension, a 150-metre starter extension, plus a new terminal building. Its owners say they have already spent £35m over the past 10 years modernising the airport, which has operated on the Dungeness Peninusula since 1954.

Greeting last month's approval, the airport's executive manager Hani Mutlaq said it was a “victory for common sense and for the people of Romney Marsh”.

The plans will create jobs, boost tourism and revive a long-standing economic blackspot as well as provide sorely-needed additional airport capacity in the south east, he said.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The planning decision from April took into account all the relevant issues and representations.

”That decision has been supported by the local district council, the county council and the local MP. We will respond in due course to the legal submission.“

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz