Lydd Airport on track with expansion, runway extension to start early next year

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.

British Airways’ first Airbus 380 lands at Manston

British Airways’ first Airbus 380, the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft, has landed safely at Manston Airport, Kent, UK.

The Airbus, a recent addition to British Airway’s fleet, will be based at Manston as part of the airline’s training for its pilots, flight crew and cabin staff before the A380s commence service in September.

The A380 is claimed to generate only a quarter of the noise level of the Boeing 747-400 when landing. It also produces 10 percent less NOx emissions and is 16 percent more fuel efficient than the aircraft it replaces. Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, built at Derby, will power all of BA’s A380s. Nearly 40 percent of the near £300 million cost of each superjumbo – or around £120million – is ‘British made’.

Keith Williams, British Airways chief executive, had commented previously, ‘The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and an excellent showpiece for British engineering. Our customers are going to love the space, light and comfort on board.’ Each A380 aircraft can carry 469 passengers over two decks with four cabins.

When the plane arrived, Manston Airport’s chief executive, Charles Buchanan, said: ‘The reason that British Airways chose here was because of the capacity that we have available and because of the length of our runway and the handling capabilities of our teams and the professionalism of our staff.

‘We have worked very closely with British Airways for six months on this programme – bringing together all sorts of different elements of what we need to put in place: fire service cover; ground services equipment and all sorts of things like that, to make sure we can handle the aircraft efficiently, and being able to demonstrate that to the aviation community is just going to build our reputation.’

Captain David Thomas, British Airways’ head of flight technical and training, said: ‘We are delighted to be based at Manston for the next few weeks.

‘We’ve been made very welcome by everyone at the airport, and hope that the sight of the A380 in the skies over Ramsgate will be a pleasant surprise for local residents and visitors to the area.

‘Manston Airport has the capacity to serve one million passengers per annum today and a deliverable master-plan that accommodates five million or more.’

The airport handles more than 30,000 tonnes of freight a year and has the capacity to deliver 100,000 tonnes in the existing facilities, growing to 400,000 in the future.

Plans for £2 billion movie theme park caught in spider’s web

The development of a major UK-based theme park has been halted by the discovery of a colony of rare spiders on the site.

The proposed development on the outskirts of London is backed by US-based filmmaking giant, Paramount, and at 842 acres the rival to Disneyland Paris would be the third biggest theme park in the world once it is completed. However, tiny arachnid, sitticus distinguendus, or the distinguished jumping spider, has shown that it has little respect for the movie company’s ambitious £2 billion plans by claiming squatters’ rights once it was discovered during an environmental audit of the brownfield site.

The park, located on the Swansombe Peninsular in Kent, was scheduled to be open to the public by 2019 and create 27,000 jobs in the process, but the rare spiders, which are only found at one other UK location in Essex, will need to be found a new home that meets their specialised requirements before development work starts.

London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), the theme park’s management company, is unfazed by the development however, and despite the spiders’ legal status not affording them any official protection, the developer has promised to do right by them. Currently the creatures are only listed as a UK Biodiversity Plan priority species by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and they would need to be included in the Wildlife and Countryside Act to achieve full protection in law.

The proposal is that the distinguished jumping spider colony will be moved to a site that offers similar high-alkali conditions to their current home, and LRHC will recommence its development, which will include Europe’s largest indoor water park and state-of-the-art rides.

KLM Announces Services from Manston Airport in UK to Amsterdam

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the national airline of the Netherlands, will be offering services from Manston airport in eastern Kent, UK, to Amsterdam, in The Netherlands.

The new services commence from April 2, 2013, with twice daily flights from Manston airport to Schiphol airport. With the new route, the airline will be operating to 17 airports in the UK. The airline will be flying up to 80 passengers on its Fokker 70 jets.

Henri Hourcade, the UK general manager for KLM, said, ‘Demand for efficient and convenient schedules to long-haul destinations from the UK continues to grow to emerging markets in Latin America, Africa and the Far East, but equally to established markets such as North America.

By connecting the UK regions to worldwide destinations, KLM is offering more choice to holidaymakers, but equally adding to the infrastructure for regional UK businesses.’

Currently Manston Airport is being served by only charter operators, Newmarket Holidays and Jersey Travel. KLM will be the only scheduled service from the airport when it commences its operations.

Charles Buchanan, the chief executive officer at Manston Airport, said, ‘The new services will be a real benefit to Kent and its residents. Passengers will be able to arrive at Manston, park adjacent to the terminal building, check in and be on the flight to Amsterdam within minutes, a hassle-free experience that makes travelling a pleasure. Passengers from Manston can leave home without the worries of road congestion or excessive flight delays affecting their journey.’

Earlier the airline entered into a code share agreement with Flybe, a UK-based airline company, on two routes in UK; between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Southampton Airport in England; and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Inverness Airport, in Scotland.

KLM, with the new code share, is offering its customers three daily flights to Southampton from Amsterdam; and a daily flight to Inverness from Amsterdam; the agreement being effective May 30, 2012.

HotelTravel.com sinks hotel deals for 2011 British Open

HotelTravel.com is sinking hotel deals and birdie putts for this week’s 140th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s at Sandwich in Kent, England, offering additional savings off its usual super low rates.

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