Date: 23/03/2012 Category: Airport campaign
A cut out and keep campaign poster for all opposed to an airport being built on or near the Thames Estuary is available in the next edition of Medway Matters.
The April/May edition of the council’s magazine for residents is being delivered to all homes in Medway from Monday, 26 March.
In this edition, there is a special four-page feature on the airport campaign. It comes ahead of a consultation by the government into airport capacity across the south east, which will also seek views from people on a Thames Estuary airport.
This consultation was due to happen this month, but Chancellor George Osborne indicated in his budget speech on Wednesday that it would be delayed until the summer.
The Medway Matters four-page feature shows how campaigners across the peninsula are gearing up for action by delivering campaign material to local homes and businesses.
One page has been turned into a special poster, which residents can cut out and display in their homes, workplaces or on notice boards in their local area.
And – as all 55 councillors across Medway Council have twice unanimously voted to oppose an airport on or near the estuary - there is a message from each leader of each of the council’s political groups in the magazine.
These state why each is against the airport proposals. The piece from each council political group leader is below:
Cllr Rodney Chambers
Leader of Medway Council
I am pleased to stand shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues across all of the council’s political groups and oppose an airport on or near the Thames Estuary.
The whole council was against an airport at Cliffe a decade ago because it was not needed, and would have changed our area for the worse. And the same is the case again.
In fact, all councillors across Medway Council have twice unanimously voted to oppose the airport in the past two years.
Each and every one of us agree – a hub airport on the estuary or peninsula would have a devastatingly detrimental effect on Medway, and the wider county of Kent.
I have made my view clear numerous times, setting out exactly why an airport does not make sense for economic and environmental reasons.
This view is shared by MPs across Kent and by councils on both sides of the estuary in Kent and Essex. Leading figures in the airline industry have also stated why they are against an estuary airport.
I hope you find it useful to read the views on this page of the leaders of the other political groups that are represented at Medway Council.
Cllr Paul Godwin
Labour group leader
The reasons against an airport in the Thames Estuary, or in the Medway area, have long been articulated.
There’s clearly a safety issue, with the potential for bird strikes; the evident impact on people who live on the peninsula; and the environment.
There is a fair argument to be made about job creation but this has to be looked at as a whole. It is about the balance of argument and the argument against these proposals is overwhelming. The damage an airport would cause outweighs the benefits that would be derived. It would change the whole nature of the area and the way it operates as a community.
I think the people who chose to live in this semi-rural part of Medway did in the expectation that it would remain just that. Residents living close to Heathrow or Gatwick do so knowing there has always been an airport in their vicinity, for good or bad. They’re used to it being there. It’s built up over time. Having an airport planted in the area is a different proposition entirely. It would undoubtedly change the way of life for residents.
The cost of building an airport and the infrastructure needed to support it would also be enormous. It’s unlikely that funding could be found entirely through the private sector. At a time of tight spending controls and an uncertain economic outlook these proposals look ridiculous. Cheaper alternatives, such as the expansion of Manston, need to be properly explored.
We are united with the other political group leaders on the council against the airport. I also believe we must engage with the people of Medway to ensure we have backing for our arguments to put to the government.
Cllr Geoff Juby
Liberal Democrat group leader
The reason I moved to Medway in the 1980s was to find a decent house with easy commuting to London and nearby countryside for my family. There were good local schools and a community based around the Church. If the proposed airport goes ahead the whole nature of the local communities could be destroyed, particularly on the peninsula where the villages still enjoy a traditional way of life whilst having access to the town centres and the transport links.
The argument that it would bring in many more jobs to the area doesn’t hold water as experience in other areas has shown that the local people end up with the low paid and part time jobs, whilst the professional jobs, which Medway so badly needs, will go elsewhere. This will put additional pressure on our local infrastructure – particularly housing, transport, education and medical facilities.
I have seen Lord Foster’s much vaunted Hong Kong airport and while it may be state of the art due to its sheer size it simply takes over everything around it. Medway will become a concrete desert with inadequate support for a vastly increased local population.
Liberal Democrats were happy to work with the other political parties to support bringing in our universities, and to construct Mid Kent College, because these initiatives give much needed opportunities to our young people and increase the skill base here. An airport is the last thing we need now; destroying our natural environment and swamping our local communities. We are solid in our support for the campaign against either Boris Island or an estuary airport.
Cllr Andy Stamp
Independent group leader
These schemes would have a devastating impact on local communities and the environment, destroying a vital habitat for thousands of wetland birds.
In 2003 the government decided against the Cliffe proposal on the ground the costs were too high. The estimated construction costs of the estuary airport could be anything up to £70bn, even higher than the earlier scheme. Furthermore, the south east is already one of the most densely populated regions in the world.
Boris Johnson himself has had to admit that there would be difficulties with the infrastructure and connecting the airport with central London. A new airport would be in direct competition with Heathrow, so there are huge questions over whether a new airport would be economically viable. If Britain’s airport capacity does need to increase at all, expansion should be at existing regional airports outside the south east. This would also reduce the millions of car journeys made to London’s airports each year down from the Midlands and North.
This makes even more sense in light of the government giving the
go-ahead for a new high speed rail link from London to Birmingham, and bosses at Birmingham City Airport stating that they could triple passenger numbers there under current plans.