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
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
film
Sport
football
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have experience of B2B s...

Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Scotland's leading train...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game