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"Liberal Democrats will oppose revived ‘Boris Island’ airport plan", says Alan Bullion

December 10, 2019 9:40 PM

Alan Bullion is the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Gillingham and Rainham

In response to speculation that Boris Johnson might try to revive the failed 'Boris Island' airport project in the Thames Estuary, Alan Bullion said: "I spoke up against the potential destruction of farmland and bird and wildlife sanctuaries on the peninsula in 2014 during the Euro election at a public meeting organised by the RSPB and Kent Wildlife Trust. We will continue to oppose any such move at all costs in order to protect our precious Kent countryside and its food production and rare species."

The Thames estuary, an internationally important area for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds, for reptiles like the slow worm, for newts and water voles, and for rare insects that thrive on old industrial land.

Altogether, the airport land and surrounding areas and waters include five separate Special Protection Areas for passing or over-wintering avocet, hen harriers, ringed and golden plovers, marsh harriers, little tern, dunlin and pintail, as well as hosting one of a new breed of marine sites, this one designated for its population of 6,000-8,000 red-throated divers. There is a Special Area of Conservation preserved for its species-rich estuaries, mud flats and salt meadows. Much of the area is also covered by the Ramsar international convention on wetlands, recognising how crucial the estuary is for birds travelling as far afield as Siberia, Canada and north Africa.

Plans drawn up by the architect Sir Norman Foster give an idea of the scale of such a development. It would involve building over a huge area of mudflats and far out into the river, taking up to a quarter of the existing channel, according to the RSPB; the charity's famous logo features the avocet, which lives nearby.

Such a massive pouring of concrete and tarmac would itself cover a giant swathe of the plant- and animal-rich tidal zone, as well as the land where wading birds retreat at high tide. Further sites, up and down the estuary and river, would be affected by tides forced to flow around the runways and buildings.

In addition to the physical stress would be the noise, vibrations and the impact of industrial activity the airport would attract to the area. These, too, affect birds like the redshank, which live on the edge of survival as they struggle to build up the energy to survive between feeds in often bitter temperatures and winds.