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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Airports would 'shatter tranquillity'
View across Cliffe marshes
An airport at Cliffe is one option the government has suggested

Airport expansion would shatter the tranquility of the countryside, according to a campaign group.

Two groups opposed to new runways and a new airport at Cliffe are due to hand in their responses to the government on Wednesday over the future of aviation services in the South East.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and the RSPB both say airport expansion would pose a real threat to wildlife and the countryside.

The CPRE has published maps showing that within 30 years, more than 600,000 people could be seriously affected by noise.

Paul Hamblin, CPRE head of transport policy, said: "The quality of life of more than half a million people now lies in the hands of the secretary of state for transport.

Giving in to the voracious demands of the aviation industry for endless expansion of air travel would be an environmental disaster
Dr Mark Avery, RSPB conservation director

"Decisions made this year over the future air transport will have a profound effect on the ability to protect a defining characteristic of the countryside, its tranquillity.

"A failure to do this will make us all the more poorer."

As well as a new airport at Cliffe, other options included in the Aviation White Paper are new runways at Gatwick, Heathrow or Stansted.

In its response the RSPB has called for the government to explicitly rule out Cliffe as an option and said the development would be an "unprecedented act of environmental vandalism".

It also said future demand could be met without building any new runways.

RSPB director of conservation, Dr Mark Avery, said: "The government's own figures show that calls for new runways, let alone new airports, are completely unjustified.

"Giving in to the voracious demands of the aviation industry for endless expansion of air travel would be an environmental disaster."

The statements come before the government's consultation exercise into air transport capacity comes to an end on 30 June.

Attempt to strike airport deal
19 May 03  |  England
Opposition to runway goes on
12 May 03  |  England
Campaigners rival Gatwick display
02 May 03  |  England

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