Rid­ers on track

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - SPORT -

Char­ing hosted the open­ing east Kent points meet­ing

A TRIAL flight took place at Lydd Air­port to demon­strate the im­pact that con­tro­ver­sial pro­pos­als for its ex­pan­sion would have on the area.

The air­port’s own­ers want to ex­tend the run­way and build a new ter­mi­nal so that up to 500,000 peo­ple a year can fly in and out on com­mer­cial pas­sen­ger jets.

Sup­port­ers of the ex­pan­sion say it will boost the area’s econ­omy by pro­vid­ing thou­sands of jobs, but op­po­nents say it will de­stroy the Marsh’s en­vi­ron­ment and make life un­bear­able for peo­ple liv­ing near it.

Ap­plause

On Satur­day, a Boe­ing 737-300 air­craft, sim­i­lar to those that would fly reg­u­larly to and from Lydd, per­formed a se­ries of take­offs, land­ings and missed land­ings at the air­port.

A crowd of around 150 peo­ple gath­ered at the air­port to watch, with ap­plause break­ing out in the pub­lic gallery as the plane landed.

Tim Cromp­ton, from the Friends of Lydd Air­port Group (FLAG), runs the Ge­orge Ho­tel in Lydd High Street. He said: “There’s a lot of kids in the area who need jobs, and this will bring them good qual­ity, year-round em­ploy­ment.

“We started FLAG be­cause we were fed up with the rub­bish from the other side. I think over­all, 80 to 85 per cent of peo­ple here are in favour of the ex­pan­sion.”

Less than a mile away in Dunes Road, Great­stone, be­neath the flight­path of the land­ing plane, 100 demon­stra­tors and res­i­dents waited to see how low it would fly and how noisy it would be.

Colin Brown said: “I’ve lived in Rom­ney Marsh for 40 years and 14 years in Dunes Road. I’ve al­ways known the air­port is there and I’ve got no prob­lem as it is.

“But with this trial both me and my neigh­bour mea­sured the noise at over 90 deci­bels. If you were ex­posed to that sort of noise level at work you would have to wear ear de­fend­ers.

“It’s not just the noise but the pol­lu­tion as well. We grow veg­eta­bles in our gar­den, and if you are go­ing to get that sort of pol­lu­tion, I’m not go­ing to eat them.

Com­plain

“In the sum­mer our daugh­ter Kayleigh, who’s four, likes to play in the gar­den, and that will also be af­fected by the pol­lu­tion from the planes.”

Terry El­lames, a plan­ning of­fi­cer for Shep­way coun­cil, who is work­ing on a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise over the pro­pos­als, said: “We have no­ticed a lot of peo­ple com­ing in to com­plain.”

Anti-ex­pan­sion pro­tes­tor Dick Ma­tra, also of Dunes Road, called for the is­sue to be de­cided by a ref­er­en­dum of peo­ple in the area.

We’ve got to live and work and pay our bills... I’m just look­ing for­ward to my first flight to Malaga.

– see fac­ing page

pd1161206 Buy th­ese pic­tures from ken­ton­line.co.uk

Lydd from above, taken from the 737 dur­ing noise tri­als on Satur­day

Left: Anti-air­port ex­pan­sion res­i­dent Colin Brown and Lib Dem can­di­date Toby Philpott Right: Pro-air­port ex­pan­sion res­i­dent Tim Cromp­ton

pd1161201

Shep­way Friends of the Earth join the protest against the air­port’s ex­pan­sion plans

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