Riders on track
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.
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.
“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.
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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
Shepway Friends of the Earth join the protest against the airport’s expansion plans