Press Release: Thames Estuary Airport – Medway Greens’ Response to Comment by Rochester Airport Director

Newts are News to Medway Greens

When Dan Bloom, of the Medway Messenger, asked Medway community figures for their views on the proposed Thames Estuary airport, it was suggested he received some surprising results.  One of these surprising results was, perhaps, the comment by Paul Britten, Director of Rochester Airport: “Let’s have a proper presentation rather than the Green Party talking about newts” he said.

So for the benefit of Mr Britten, and any other readers who may have missed our previous arguments (those which don’t involve newts), the Medway Green Party would like to present some of our reasons why a new airport is bad (and not just on the Peninsula).

What about Climate Change? Air travel is the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. It generates nearly as much CO2 annually as that from all human activities in Africa. If aviation continues to grow at the current rate then it will account for half of what even the government thinks is the most the UK should be emitting by 2050.

Will it really improve the local economy? It can equally well drain jobs and resources out of the area. Any transport link has the capacity to move jobs in two directions, into the area and out of it.  Plus, there is no guarantee that jobs will go to local people.

We are also concerned about the loss of homes and communities. It is not only that people will be forced out of their homes, but whole communities will be affected. Relocation is likely to result in greater distances between friends and families who have lived in the same community for years.  Why should local people have to go through that?

And then there’s the additional infrastructure. How are people going to get there? Many people will be travelling from London.  The rail line already struggles with capacity especially at peak commuting times. Any airport would require significant construction work for the transport links, road and rail, which will impact on vast swathes of the natural environment as well as causing additional pollution, and travel stress.

What about pollution? Air and ground traffic at major airports can lead to pollution levels as high as city centres. Previous studies of Gatwick airport predicted that, as noxious fumes from cars decreased due to cleaner vehicles, emissions from aviation would double over the same period.

Then of course we have got impact on wildlife, predominantly birds, although the Peninsula is home to a variety of indigenous mammals and insects. The salt marshes on the Peninsula are designated for internationally important populations of wintering birds. It is unlikely that it will be possible to move these bird populations to a new habitat.

The high bird population also produces a risk of bird strike. The proposal has been deemed unsafe by the RSPB. Even with an aggressive bird hazard management programme, the hazard to aircraft posed by birds is severe.

And has anyone looked at the problem of finite resources? The Earth doesn’t continually produce oil to replace that which we use. Availability of oil must be a consideration for all future development plans. Airports just won’t function without oil.

So just to reiterate, the airport is unwanted, unnecessary and sticks two fingers up at the residents and wildlife of the area.

Trish Marchant
Medway Green Party Co-ordinator

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