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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 09:29 GMT
Airport plans being put to test
Aerial view of London Ashford Airport
About 20m has already been spent on upgrading the airport
Planning applications have been submitted for a new passenger terminal and extended runway at a Kent airport.

The proposals are for London Ashford Airport, at Lydd, to accommodate 500,000 passengers a year and offer flights further afield than presently.

More public consultation is planned now the applications are in the hands of Shepway District Council.

Opponents say there are environmental hazards, as well as a nuclear risk posed by power stations at Dungeness.

The airport's managing director, Zac Deir, said there had been extensive work on an Environmental Impact Assessment.

It is described as a "blueprint of the development" and looks at environment, traffic and wildlife issues.

'Accident risk'

"We've been holding a lot of consultation and I think we have persuaded a lot of people that this is a good development with benefits for economic regeneration," Mr Deir said.

He added the expansion was planned in stages, with a capacity of two million passengers a year ultimately earmarked for the airport terminal.

The proposed 3m runway extension - from 1,505m (4,938ft) to 1,799m (5,902ft) - would mean planes carrying a greater fuel load and therefore being able to reach a greater range of destinations.

The Lydd Airport Action Group has called for a no-fly zone around two power plants at Dungeness to be extended for planes arriving or departing.

"We believe there are serious public safety issues as large commercial aircraft will be taking off and landing beside nuclear power stations," spokeswoman Louise Barton said.

Other fears concern possible noise pollution and environmental damage on the Romney Marsh.

Paul Outhwaite, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: "It [the expansion] could impact on the populations of some key species which use the marshes."


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