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Boris airport plan lands again

PUBLISHED: 13:05 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:43 23 August 2010

A British Airways plane prepares to land on March 28, 2010 over Bedfont near Heathrow Airport as striking British Airways cabin crew demonstrate on the second day of a four-day strike, bringing further travel disruption with no end in sight for a dispute that has become increasingly political. The Unite trade union, which represents 12,000 BA cabin crew, is staging its second walkout in a week and says there are likely to be more ahead unless BA makes them an acceptable offer.  AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

A British Airways plane prepares to land on March 28, 2010 over Bedfont near Heathrow Airport as striking British Airways cabin crew demonstrate on the second day of a four-day strike, bringing further travel disruption with no end in sight for a dispute that has become increasingly political. The Unite trade union, which represents 12,000 BA cabin crew, is staging its second walkout in a week and says there are likely to be more ahead unless BA makes them an acceptable offer. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

2010 AFP

CAMPAIGNERS are preparing for a double battle against plans which threaten to swamp villages with cars, lorries and aircraft. Despite believing plans for an airport on the Thames Estuary had been dropped by London Mayor Boris Johnson the change of govern

AMBITIOUS: Boris Johnson

CAMPAIGNERS are preparing for a double battle against plans which threaten to swamp villages with cars, lorries and aircraft.

Despite believing plans for an airport on the Thames Estuary had been dropped by London Mayor Boris Johnson the change of government has prompted another twist.

Hopes were raised when he failed to mention the £40 billion airport plan dubbed 'Boris Island' when launching a London transport strategy recently.

But as Prime Minister David Cameron quashed plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport fears were raised about the long debated plan near Cliffe Marshes.

A senior spokesperson for Mr Johnson told the Reporter this week: "I believe that is still the case. There is still a group here looking at it to see whether it is feasible or not."

Residents in Cliffe, Higham, Shorne and Chalk who are likely to be under the flight path are already preparing to fight plans for a third Thames Crossing as part of a 21st century Blueprint for Kent.

Chris Fribbins, vice chair of Cliffe and Cliffe Woods parish council, said: "We are concerned that this issue [Boris Island] has not been resolved and is just dragging on. We've been saying for many years this is not a good location for an airport."

And Mr Fribbins, who is also vice chairman of the Dickens' Country Protection Society, added: "We believe there were assurances before the election the issue was a dead duck, but to see it continuing is genuinely unsettling for people living in the area.

"An airport is not just a set of runways. There are connections such as roads and on-shore activities around the area. It's not out of sight out of mind in the estuary."

But he was more optimistic about the Crossing plan, saying: "At the moment I can't see that going anywhere in the current financial climate, either with private or public developers."

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds claim the airport plan will be "the most destructive development ever undertaken in the UK" in one of Europe's most important sites for wild birds protected by European and UK law.

Andre Farrar, from the RSPB, said it would have a "profound impact. The implications from this proposal are seriously bad."

His fears were supported by Protect Kent, the Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

A spokesperson added: "Boris Island would have a massive impact on the tranquillity and wildlife of Thames Estuary.

"Proposed road and rail links to the new island would create swathes of housing and industrial development across the countryside and when you factor in coastal flooding and sea-level rise, this whole scheme seems like the doodling of an eight-year-old."

Mike Snelling, leader of Gravesham Borough Council, said he has always opposed the Boris Island idea. He said "I don't think the infrastructure is there, and it's a bad idea."

Speaking about plans for a third Thames crossing, he added: "I do think we need more capacity, as long as it doesn't go through the most attractive parts of Gravesham."

Medway Council and Kent County Council have joined with the RSPB to start a campaign called Stop the Estuary Airport to get the scheme thrown out.

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