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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Protests at airport expansion plans
Residents protest against Cliffe Airport
Villagers felt 'betrayed' by the proposals
Residents worried about plans to build or expand airports in Kent and Essex are rallying to protect their homes.

Thousands of villagers in north Kent turned up to a meeting on Tuesday evening, just 24 hours after neighbours of Stansted airport in Essex made their opposition clear at another public meeting.

The government has drawn up a shortlist of areas in which to expand or build airports to cope with the rising demand for flights.

But villagers on the Hoo Peninsula in north Kent were shocked when proposals for a new international airport - Cliffe Airport - were leaked in March.


These people have lived here all their lives and don't want to see their area changed in such a dramatic fashion

Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst

They face losing their homes, the local parish church, All Saints, could be demolished and its graveyard disinterred if the marshland remains on the shortlist.

Thousands of villagers from Allhallows and St Mary Hoo arrived at the open air meeting on Tuesday.

Allhallows ward councillor Chris Buckwell said 1,100 homes could be bought up to make way for the airport.

He said: "All these people are due to have their houses demolished. The airport will take out the whole of Allhallows village and most of St Mary Hoo village and most of two other villages.

"People were betrayed because they were short listed without any consultation in what we consider to be an undemocratic and secret process."

Protestors arrive
Thousands turned up at the meeting

Opponents hope the site's conservation credentials as a wetland site of international importance will help keep it off the shortlist.

In Stansted, where another three runways could be built, residents packed out a school hall on Monday evening to make their views known.

House prices have already been affected by the proposals, which would mean 200 homes, 64 grade-II listed buildings and hundreds of acres of countryside would be lost.

Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst told BBC London: "These people have lived here all their lives and don't want to see their area changed in such a dramatic fashion.

"No one is against progress but a complete change, of the kind that would be involved, is unthinkable to these people."


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22 Jul 02 | England
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