Lydd Airport Inquiry
A big public inquiry into plans for a redevelopment of Lydd Airport in Romney Marsh is starting in Folkestone this morning.
It will hear evidence from those in favour and against proposals to extend the runway and build a new terminal at the site which was once one of Europe's busiest airports.
The plans were originally given the go ahead by Shepway District Council after a 7 hour debate in March last year. But three months later, the Government overruled the council's decision and arranged a public inquiry.
The owners say the redevelopment will create a modern regional airport, boosting passenger numbers from around 3,000 to up to 500,000 passengers a year, and will create hundreds of jobs, spark economic regeneration and help attract additional tourist visits to the area.
But conservation groups including Natural England and the RSPB are concerned about the impact on wildlife if expansion is agreed. The site is is right next to Romney Marsh and the Dungeness peninsular which are both of environmental importance.
Some wildlife at Dungeness cannot be found anywhere else in Britain. While some local residents are worried about more noise, pollution and congestion.
There are also safety concerns about big passenger jets landing and taking off from an airport which is just three miles away from Dungeness B nuclear power station.
Campaign posters with the slogan "60 seconds to disaster" have gone up around the area, to highlight those concerns.
The inquiry is expected to last 21 weeks and will hear from dozens of witnesses on issues including ornithology, ecology, noise, nuclear safety and socio-economic considerations.