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Lydd Airport will be contacting the Davies Commission to “set them straight” about so-called operational and capacity restraints at the Kent airport.
While Lydd is pleased to see the Commission recognise the important role that smaller regional airports can play in helping to meet the need for greater runway capacity, senior managers are unhappy with the way the interim report has seemingly dismissed Lydd’s ambitions for growth.
An appendix to the Davies report casts doubt on Lydd’s ability to meet future air travel expansion by blaming ‘operational and capacity constraints due to its proximity to Dungeness nuclear power station and its associated restricted airspace’. The distance from Romney Marsh to London is also said to make Lydd an ‘unattractive prospect’.
Executive Manager Hani Mutlaq denied that Lydd Airport’s location was hampering its growth potential. This year it won planning permission for a runway extension and a new terminal building as part of its ambitious multi-million-pound redevelopment.
“Our business case for future development was thoroughly examined during a nine-month-long public inquiry and our credentials as a viable, modern regional airport were upheld when the Government allowed our scheme to go ahead.
“The airport and the power station have worked together for many years and operational restrictions are in place to ensure both can co-exist while the airport grows so the Davies Commission’s interim report presents a potentially misleading picture of the potential for development at Lydd and we will be writing to set them straight about this.”
The airport says that total air travel demand in Kent and East Sussex amounted to 4.5m air passengers in 2009 according to CAA Survey data, of which 2.5m passengers were within the local catchment area of Lydd.
Hani said: “Extra runways at Gatwick and Heathrow may be the favoured long-term solution to easing congestion in the South East but these options will take many years to complete. We need to take immediate action to improve the use of existing runway capacity and ease the pressure on Gatwick and Heathrow.”
Lydd Airport is within easy access of the M20 and just 14 miles south of Ashford, which offers a high-speed rail link from Ashford International Station to London St Pancras Station in just 37 minutes. Eurostar provides European rail connections via Ashford, which is the fastest growing town between London and the Continent.
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