Airport commission in Medway over Thames estuary plans

Sir Howard Davies Sir Howard Davies said the visit had given him a better picture of the challenges involved

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The man leading an inquiry into UK aviation has visited Medway to talk to people who would be affected if an airport was built off the Kent coast.

Sir Howard Davies and other members of his commission were discussing the proposals with conservationists, business leaders and councillors.

Supporters of the airport plans have said there is a strong business case.

Campaigners against the plans oppose the environmental impact and want more use of existing airports.

'Building understanding'

Both the RSPB, which has opposed the impact of airport plans on coastal wetland, and the regeneration body Drink (Demand Regeneration in North Kent) said they had booked slots to talk to the visitors during the private visit.

A spokesman for the commission said members were touring the Hoo Peninsula to build an understanding of the region to inform its considerations of any proposals for an airport in the Thames Estuary.

He said the commission would make a final report in summer 2015, when it would provide materials to support the government in planning a national policy statement.

Councillor Alan Jarrett, Medway council's deputy leader, said the visit had given people an opportunity to tell the commission why building a hub airport off Kent would be "a complete non-starter".

He said Medway, Kent and Southend councils, the RSPB, the National Grid, Friends of North Kent Marshes and other groups had all made representations opposing the plans.

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