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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 14:13 GMT
Airport ruling celebrated
Cliffe sign
Residents and conservationists around Cliffe are celebrating
The government's decision to leave Cliffe out of airport expansion plans is a victory for campaigners, says a Kent MP.

Medway MP Bob Marshall-Andrews said the news that the Kent site has been ruled out made him feel proud.

On Tuesday the Transport Secretary Alastair Darling announced the marshlands in Cliffe would not be the site for a new airport.

Instead Mr Darling opted for new runways at Stansted and Heathrow as part of the government's 30-year plan for air travel in the UK.

There have been sad days and we have had a long haul fight
Alan Hughes
Cooling Parish Council

Gatwick has not been ruled out of future expansion but it will not be an option until 2019.

Campaigns against an airport at Cliffe started in March 2002 when the then Transport Secretary Stephen Byers was reported to be considering the idea.

Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews helped co-ordinate protests and said he was "extremely proud" of the campaign by local residents against the proposed airport.

'Feeling of elation'

Mr Marshall-Andrews said: "I feel extremely proud to have worked alongside so many of my constituents and to have ensured that the government never underestimated our collective strength and determination.

"I am especially pleased that this campaign has been free from party politics.

"We have all pulled together regardless of our political differences and proved what can be done in these circumstances when everyone is under threat."

Villagers in nearby Cooling held a party after the announcement to celebrate the end of their fight.

Alan Hughes, the chairman of Cooling Parish Council, said: "Our village would have been inhabitable but now there is a feeling of elation and Christmas has really come early for us around the marshes.

"We were convinced the airport was coming to us and there have been sad days and we have had a long haul fight against it but we got there in the end.

"We fought all the way but at the moment my thoughts are with the people in Stansted."

Bob Marshall-Andrews said about 4,500 people contacted him with concerns about the proposal to build a new airport on the marshlands in Cliffe.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Medway Council and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England were among the organisations who campaigned against an airport at Cliffe.


SEE ALSO:
Stansted heads airports expansion
16 Dec 03  |  Politics
Cliffe: 2,000 acres of sky
23 Jul 02  |  UK News


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