Kent’s Lydd Airport, also known as London Ashford Airport, is on track with the multi million pound expansion plans approved by the Government in April 2013, with runway construction expected to commence early in 2014.
The £25 million investment plans include the construction of a 294m runway extension plus a 150m starter extension, and a new terminal building with the capacity to handle up to 500,000 passengers a year. Airport chiefs have now told Kent Online that they are on schedule to meet the environmental pre-conditions required to enable planning permission, and that construction of a runway extension will commence early next year.
The airport has organised several studies and surveys to meet the 54 environmental conditions. A detailed geological and archaeological study will be followed by a water vole survey, surface water drainage studies, a survey of aquatic and amphibious invertebrates, as well as an updated bat foraging and commuting behaviour study. In addition, a moth study will be commissioned in consultation with Kent Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation and Natural England. Other studies will cover grass snakes, the common lizard, medicinal leeches and great crested newts.
On completion of the studies, Lydd Airport, in consultation with Natural England, will submit a protection, construction and mitigation plan for these species for approval from Shepway council’s planning department.
‘Strict environmental controls will ensure that the special bird populations, flora and fauna of Dungeness will continue to be safeguarded, and noise levels, aircraft numbers and flying times will be capped,’ said executive manager Hani Mutlaq.
Lydd has also conducted a ground water quality monitoring programme, a review of facilities required for storage of oils, fuels and chemicals ahead of the submission to the council of a construction environmental management plan.
‘Having already spent millions of pounds on getting planning approval for our runway extension and new terminal building, these surveys and studies represent a further heavy investment by the airport,’ Mutlaq said, adding, ‘If all goes according to plan, we will have complied with all the pre-commencement conditions by early next year and can then put the construction of the runway extension out to tender.’
Under the airport’s general policy, priority for such works will always be given to local contractors and businesses where possible, the airport had said earlier. Lydd Airport, which caters for a wide range of aircraft operations, has already spent £35 million on modernisation over the past decade.