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Last Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008, 15:35 GMT
Airport expansion debate put off
London Ashford Airport
Airport planners want a longer runway and new terminal building
A meeting to decide whether a Kent airport can expand has been postponed because planning officers say they do not have enough information.

Shepway District Council was to have debated plans to build a new terminal and extend the runway at London Ashford Airport (LAA), at Lydd, on 30 January.

Now chief executive Alistair Stewart has said more information is needed on ecological and noise issues.

The meeting will be rescheduled for a date in two to six months' time.

Shepway District Council is considering two planning applications for the airport on Romney Marsh.

The marsh really needs the airport to prosper otherwise it is going to end up like God's waiting room
Dave Whitnall

One is for a new terminal building to handle up to 500,000 passengers a year - the equivalent of 10 flights a day - the other is for two runway extensions, together 444m (1,456ft) in length.

"This is one of the biggest planning applications this council has ever had to determine and it is one that has wide-ranging implications," said Mr Stewart.

"A lot of complex and technical details have to be considered in applications of this scale.

"We will be talking to the applicants about the additional information we need, mainly concerning ecological and noise issues."

Earlier, objectors to the airport expansion claimed they were being excluded from the 30 January meeting at the council chamber.

Welcome postponement

Shepway council said it did not have enough room for everyone to attend the debate but people could watch via video link.

Di Matra, who lives near LAA, said: "In April last year there were over 3,000 people who voted in a referendum and 66% of them were against the airport."

They were supported by the Lib Dem opposition group on the council, which has welcomed the postponement.

More than a third of eligible electors in Lydd and New Romney voted in April 2006 on whether they supported the expansion proposals.

In Lydd, 741 were in favour and 916 against while in New Romney 396 were in favour and 1,288 against.

Groups in favour of the airport expansion say it would bring jobs, better transport links and an economic boost to the area.

Friends of Lydd Airport Group chairman Dave Whitnall said: "The marsh really needs the airport to prosper otherwise it is going to end up like God's waiting room because all the youngsters will move out."


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