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Runway? No Way!

RSPB urge immediate withdrawal of Cliffe airport proposal.

The Government`s proposal, finally confirmed in the SERAS report, that the Cliffe area of north Kent be an option for the building of a new airport, has met with condemnation from the RSPB.Chris Corrigan, RSPB Regional Director, said: The thought of an airport and all the associated infrastructure being slapped on top of one of Europe`s premier wildlife sites is, frankly, obscene. You wouldn`t build an airport on somewhere like Canterbury Cathedral or Stonehenge, so it is a nonsense to imagine building one on the wonderful North Kent Marshes around Cliffe which are another great part of our heritage. The wildlife here is important internationally and we will fight hard to save it.But the RSPB are urging the Government to not only rule out the Cliffe option immediately but to step back and readdress their whole policy on aviation, which the RSPB say just isn`t working. Chris explains: The current predict and provide policy suggests that we put more and more aircraft in the sky without any thought as to the damage caused. Before any airport proposal is made anywhere, we need to ensure that the demand for air travel doesn`t outstrip what our environment and society can cope with. The Government needs to carefully manage this demand by pursuing solutions such as an international aviation fuel tax. Furthermore, he said: We also need to know that everything has been done to ensure that our current airports are running at capacity and as efficiently as possible. Only when all these options have been exhausted should even the next inch of runway be contemplated.The RSPB`s NoAirport@Cliffe campaign is well underway to both oppose the Cliffe option and to raise the RSPB`s concerns about aviation policy. If you would like to know more about the campaign or to pledge your support, please contact Perry Haines, Campaign Co-ordinator at NoAirportAtCliffe@rspb.org.uk or call RSPB Wildlife Enquiries on 01767 680551. More information on the campaign is available from http://www.rspb.org.uk - follow the link on the home page to dedicated pages.Perry Haines RSPB campaign co-ordinator said today: The voice of one million members and all campaign supporters will deliver our message loud and clear-NO AIRPORT AT CLIFFE.The above reactions followed the unveiling of The South East and East of England Regional Air Services Study report by Alistair Darling (Dept of Transport) today as one of seven regional consultation papers on the options to meet future air-traffic demand across England. Greatest attention focuses on South East England where the Government hopes to maintain London`s role as a global aviation hub over the next 30 years. It includes an option to build a major new airport near Cliffe, north Kent. This would spell disaster for the birds and other wildlife of the Thames estuary and will be the biggest single development the RSPB has opposed since, ironically, the proposal for the fourth London airport at Maplin Sands, Essex in the early 1970s. This would have caused similar environmental damage. Plans were eventually dropped after a vigorous campaign by the RSPB and others. The Thames is the fourth most important site for waterfowl in the UK, supporting an average of over 155,000 wintering wading birds and wildfowl. The area around Cliffe forms part of the South Thames Estuary and Marshes Site of Special Sientific Interest (SSSI) and the Thames Estuary and Marshes Special Protection Area (SPA) and is a Ramsar Site (indicating a wetland of international importance). This means the area has almost all of the highest national and international designations and legal protection on wildlife grounds. The RSPB has recently acquired a large nature reserve at Cliffe Pools in addition to considerable other landholdings for nature conservation in the area.

4th July 2014