Forwarded from the NO AIRPORT@ CLIFFE campaign headquarters
In late June this year, the Government is expected to publish seven
regional consultation papers on the options to meet future air-
traffic demand across England. Greatest attention will focus on
South East England where the Government hopes to maintain London's
role as a global aviation hub over the next 30 years. It seems
likely to include 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 4th 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 Cliffe proposal could be much bigger than Heathrow (similar to
Charles de Gaul, Paris), covering well over Heathrow's 1200
hectares. Knock-on impacts would include warehousing, new road and
rail, and major housing development for the influx of employees.
The threat to birds and other wildlife:
The wetlands of the Thames estuary comprise one of the top five
areas in the UK for breeding, passage and wintering birds. They are
also one of Europe's most important wildlife sites.
The vast estuarine and freshwater wetlands in this part of north
Kent and south Essex make it a rich haven for birds and other
No less than four internationally important wetland sites could be
under threat if the Cliffe scheme became a reality. These are the:
1. Thames Estuary and Marshes Special Protection Area and Ramsar
site; 2. Medway Estuary and Marshes SPA/Ramsar site; 3. Benfleet
and Southend Marshes SPA/Ramsar site; 4. The Swale SPA/Ramsar site.
Besides these statutory sites, the RSPB has 5 significant nature
reserves in the area. Of these, Northward Hill and Cliffe Pools
would effectively be destroyed if the airport plans went ahead.
Over 200,000 waders and wildfowl winter in these extensive wetlands.
The wetlands are also important for an array of other wildlife,
including water voles, scarce emerald damselflies, and the recently
rediscovered Maid of Kent rove beetle, as well as many nationally
rare plants. In addition, the Essex Estuaries are a candidate
Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive.
From a wildlife perspective, it is hard to think of anywhere worse
to build an airport. Vast swathes of the wetlands around Cliffe
would be destroyed or irrevocably damaged, changing the nature of
north Kent forever:
The area around Cliffe would go under the concrete needed for the
Demand for new houses, roads and railways would have, as yet
unknown, knock-on impacts on the rest of north Kent and possibly
The tranquillity of the North Kent marshes would be shattered by the
takeoff and landing of aircraft, twenty-four hours a day, seven days
Such impacts would clearly damage local people as well as wildlife.
In addition, there are the long-term sustainability effects of the
Government's proposals, not least the implications for climate
change of a significant increase in air travel.
On top of all this, the North Kent marshes have a rich cultural
heritage, featuring heavily in Dickens' novels, notably the
graveyard at Cooling that provided the inspiration for the first
meeting of Pip and Magwitch in Great Expectations.
We are prepared to fight this proposal with all means available to
us and will welcome the full support of others to ensure success.
NO AIRPORT @ CLIFFE
This campaign is fully supported by PROACT at
< http://www.proactnow.org/localcampaigns/id11.html >
Kevin Thornton -
David Conlin -
Proact, campaigning for birds and their habitats .... your contribution DOES
make a difference
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