Rehman Chishti is the MP for Gillingham and Rainham. Cllr Rodney Chambers OBE is the Leader of Medway Council.
The news this week that the Coalition government is preparing to consult on a Thames Estuary airport has a deep sense of déjà vu about it. For they are another in a long line of governments, spanning some forty years, who have looked east to the Estuary to solve their aviation issues. Yet they have all discovered that there are overwhelming economic, environmental and safety issues that stand up against such a scheme.
It is an area where an aircraft would be 12 times more at risk of bird strike than at any other major UK airport. It would be close to Thamesport – where huge container ships unload one fifth of the UK’s Liquid Natural Gas supplies – and the proposed London Array wind farm. Then there is, of course, the SS Richard Montgomery ship, packed full of explosives.
Proponents often dismiss these issues saying we can just move these things elsewhere – such as setting up a new reserve for the 300,000 migrating birds who flock to the estuary’s environmentally and scientifically significant sites each year. The inconvenient truth is, as the RSPB has pointed out, you have to take drastic action to stop birds returning.