We Must REMAIN Vigilant To The Threat

There can be no doubt that the single biggest threat to the iconic North Kent Marshes at present comes from a vote to leave the EU. A vote for brexit would almost certainly lead to a power struggle within the conservative party and, as most commentators think, result in Boris Johnson seizing power as the unelected Prime Minister of the UK. Although the Howard commission came down firmly in favour of a third runway at Heathrow over Boris’s proposal for a £80 billion Estuary Airport (10 x the UK annual contribution to the EU) the matter was kicked into the long grass by the government and the proposals were never implemented. Should Boris steal power after the referendum the way would be open for him to sweep aside the findings of the Howard commission (if he doesn’t listen to the views of experts regarding EU membership he’s not going to listen to them about his pet project and legacy that is Boris Island) and start pushing through legislation for the construction of the new four runway airport in North Kent. There would effectively be nothing to stop the plans being pushed through. With EU legislation on environmental protection and levels of pollution out of the way Boris, as Prime Minister, could force through just about any change to the UK law that he required to facilitate the construction of his vanity project. All the while those who’s lives stand to be blighted by the 24 hour aircraft noise, pollution and destruction of some of England’s finest wetlands, would have no option but to stand by and see their taxes being poured into the miles of concrete and tarmac that would desecrate this awe inspiring part of the Garden of England. At the same time they would have to do so impotent in the knowledge that they are without recourse to any form of justice other then the British courts. Courts that have no boundaries other than those imposed by the very government that seeks to destroy their traditional Kentish way of life. If you value this part of England and the unique place it holds in the European landscape you must vote to Remain part of the EU on the 23rd of June.

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Boris is Back

Boris Johnson returned to the house of commons in the election last Thursday and in his acceptance speech immediately vowed to fight a third runway at Heathrow. Although he has been fairly quiet on the subject since the Airports Commission rejected the idea of an estuary airport Boris is known to still be in favour of such an airport. The Airports Commission is due to deliver it’s final report on the subject this summer, but this report is not legally binding on the government and could easily be buried and forgotten about in the clamour that is likely to surround the forthcoming EU referendum. With David Cameron expected to resign after that referendum, probably in 2018, this could easily pave the way for Boris, who Cameron anointed as a potential successor in March, to walk unelected into No.10.
Johnson is expected to take on a minor cabinet role until the election for Mayor of London in 2016. It is not explained how Boris can effectively fulfil both of the full time roles of Mayor of London and constituency MP, not to mention his writings for various publications, but apparently the highly paid and privileged are capable of taking on several jobs concurrently while the rest of us must devote our labours exclusively to one master. With the role of Mayor of London out of the way in 2016 it is expected that Boris will take on a more heavy weight cabinet role with a likely infrastructure (like airports) base.
Whatever Johnson’s route to No.10 one thing you can be sure of is that the idea of an estuary airport is not going to remain dead and buried and is ready to rise zombie like to devour the tranquillity of North Kent.

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Airports Commission: Interim Report

 

So now that the Airports Commission has refused to “Sink Boris Island” the fight must go on. OK that’s not strictly true. The Boris Island idea of an airport on an island in the middle of the Thames Estuary is now off the cards, however the commission have refused to rule out a new four runway airport on the Isle of Grain. The Isle of Grain airport (which shall henceforth be known as “Boris Island” because it was one of the original ideas supported by Boris and is on an Island) is favoured by Boris because it would:-

A) cut down the noise and air pollution for the nice people of Windsor and West London and their little darlings at Eton (11 miles from the end of the runway at Heathrow that would need to be closed at huge public expense) and move that pollution to the Isle of Grain and Sheppey where the poor people of Sheerness (2 miles from the end of the proposed runway), Medway and the surrounding areas would have to suffer ever increasing levels of pollution as the planes get larger and larger and the density of unrestricted 24/7 flights increases.

B) Provide a huge opportunity for redevelopment at the closed Heathrow site that rich developers, architects and other friends of Boris could cash-in on to make huge sums of money on the highly valuable West London land all of which would have to be paid for out of public money as part of the compensation that would have to be paid to BAA (the private company that owns Heathrow) for the closure of the Airport (who says this government doesn’t support British business?)

 

What is unfathomable about the commissions’ report is that despite the fact that (in the commissions own words):-

 there is potentially a very large cost; for the airport itself, the new surfaceaccess requirements and upgrades to existing networks”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“these costs do not include any requirements for buying and closing Heathrow and the resulting infrastructure necessary to making the Heathrow site attractive to investors”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“the redevelopment of the Heathrow site would take many years to complete reducing the financial benefit of buying Heathrow and developing the site”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“the incremental costs of this option are much greater than extending an existing airport.”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“the airport would impact on two Special Areas of Protection (SPA) and two Ramsar Sites”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“in addition there may also be environmental impacts associated with any required surface access infrastructure, which have not been assessed”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“it appears unlikely that a project with the level of capital investment required, without an existing RAB, could go forward without some form of significant government subsidy”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“the requirement for new roads to connect the airport to existing roadways and the need to expand those connected roadways would be substantial”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“there would also need to be major improvements in terms of new and existing railways. A new high speed line into central London splitting to two stations of St Pancras (via HS1 line) and Waterloo/Canary Wharf/London Bridge (via a new tunnel under Central London) as well as an extension to Crossrail, would be expensive”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“this option would require the closure of Heathrow for commercial reasons and London City for airspace reasons”

 

and despite the fact that:-

“the closure of Heathrow has potential for immediate adverse effects on employment in the area”

 

what is unfathomable is that despite all of that the commission did not dismiss the the idea out of hand but instead the “Commission intends to carry out further analysis of the feasibility and impacts of an Isle of Grain airport and reach a decision in the second half of 2014” it’s almost as if someone was slipping something into the back pocket of Howard Davies (the head of the commission).

So the fight must go on, at least for another year until a decision is made in 2014. Even then I suspect there will be much to be done because even if the commission rules out the the idea of an Isle of Grain airport it would not be the first time that a government dismissed out of hand the findings of a government commission especially if there is an election in the offing, as there will be in 2015, and a large part of your electorate stand to be adversely impacted by your aviation policy.

 

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BBC Radio Kent airport debate in Rochester

BBC Radio Kent is hosting a debate on airport expansion. You can apply for free tickets at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-19871756. Of cource Boris himself will not attend as he is to spineless to face those whos homes and lives he intends to destroy. But you can turn up and tell the Boris’s representative exacty where he can stick his island.

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Greening Gone

The minister or Transport Justine Greening has been removed from here post in the cabinet reshuffle today. Greening who was a vehement opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, as it would over fly her marginal Putney constituency, was known to have been a supporter of Boris Island and her removal could pave the way for a government U-turn and development at Heathrow. One obstacle to an extra Heathrow runway is the coalition agreement, which means the present Tory Lib Dem coalition government could not easily move forward on the issue. However with Greening out of the picture it is possible that Heathrow expansion could be a recommendation of the forthcoming consultation, a decision on which is likely to be delayed until after the next election. Boris Johnson described possible expansion at Heathrow as “simply mad” and pointed out that airport expansion “would mean more traffic, more noise, more pollution – and a serious reduction in the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people” something which is apparently unacceptable for the politicians of West London to accept in their area, but one that they are more than happy to dump on the people of Kent and Essex.

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Government In Disarray

The government’s aviation policy can today only be described as in disarray as ministers and parties fight within themselves over the future of airport capacity in the UK. In the last couple of weeks two high profile Tories have launched scathing attacks on David Cameron for his inability to tackle the issue. On the 15th of August Boris Johnson laid out his, until now, thinly veiled career plans to become Prime Minister. Speaking in the Evening Standard Boris attacked David Cameron for “pussyfooting around” over the issue of a Thames Estuary Airport. He also revealed he is considering running as an MP after his current term as Mayor of London, something he had previously ruled out on BBC Newsnight. With Cameron’s support within the Tory party, and the country, falling as most Tory MPs think he is too liberal and ineffective Boris has seen his chance to hammer the PM and stake his claim as the rightful leader of the party should they have a bad showing at the next general election. Boris has always stated he is playing a long term game in relation to Boris Island and it is not just the present threat we must be aware of. A poor showing for the conservatives in the 2015 election is liable to see Boris in the position of party leader in the 2020 election (just eight years away), not because he commands universal support in the Tory party (far from it many in the party see Boris as an out of control loose cannon) but because he has popular support in the country among those who think that Boris is a bit of a laugh. Once ensconced as PM there would be nothing to stand in the way of Boris Island, as pigheaded Boris would be able to bulldoze through his plans despite any legal, planning or international environmental concerns.

Not satisfied with destroying the beauty of the Thames Estuary Boris has also revealed, in the Evening Standard 16/06/12, that he wants to see another runway built at Stansted. Apparently he will not be happy until every house in the south-east, outside of London, is under the flightpath of a major international airport.

In another attack on Cameron former environment minister Tim Yeo who is head of the Parliamentary climate change committee and was previously a high-profile opponent of the third runway at Heathrow has changed his mind about Heathrow expansion. Speaking in The Telegraph Mr Yeo said that “The Prime Minister must ask himself whether he is man or mouse,”. The Telegraph stated that “Mr Yeo is among a growing number of senior Conservatives who believe that Mr Cameron should abandon the party’s opposition to a third runway.”. Despite the government policy of no new runway at Heathrow The Telegraph also reported in the same artical that “Grant Shapps, the housing minister, said last week that Britain must consider building a third runway at Heathrow if it is to remain a “great trading nation”.” and that “George Osborne, the Chancellor, is also thought to share this view.”If the part about George Osborne is to be believed this is in direct opposition to what Boris was saying only two weeks before in the Standard.

It was also reported in The Telegraph that “Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat MP who has previously spoken for the party on transport issues, said that in the “longer term” a new airport may have to be built.

Asked whether a hub airport may be required, he replied: “I think longer term, yes, and we need to look at that issue”. Are the Liberal Democrats about to deliver another betrayal of their stated policy that they will “Firmly rejecting Boris Johnson’s Thames Estuary airport”?

With Cameron under attack from all sides of the coalition it is thought that he is warming to the idea of a third Heathrow runway. However one major sticking point of a third runway is transport secretary Justine Greening who is vehemently opposed to the plan as the flightpath would affect her Putney constituency and she would rather six runways were built in the Thames Estuary with sixty planes landing an hour twenty four hours a day 365 days a year. One solution that has been mooted is to move Greening to another department in a cabinet reshuffle in September, speaking in The Independent on Saturday 25/08/12 “a senior Tory” stated “It would be bizarre to keep her [Greening] in that job when her position over aviation is now the polar opposite of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.” However speaking in an interview on the Today Program on the BBC 28/08/12 (about 2 hours 10 minutes into the program) Greening ruled out a move to another department stating “it would be difficult [to sit in a cabinet that supported third runway]”. Greening stated her opposition to a third runway was based on noise, air pollution and access issues which apparently the people of Kent and Essex should be forced to endure for the sake or her posh Putney residents. Also in the interview Greening stated that the long awaited consultation on airport capacity would begin when parliament resumes in September. However rather than calling it a consultation, that would imply people would be able to give their opinions, she described it as a “call for evidence” suggesting that the only input would be from the developers and aviation industry not from those people who’s lives stand to be irrevocably ruined by the construction of an Estuary Airport. When further pushed in the subject of a third runway Greening stated that the “process I’m about to kick off will deliver a better long term solution [than a third runway]” implying that the decisions about airport capacity and hub status for Heathrow had already been made and that the “consultation” was nothing more than a public relations exercise. Being further pushed on the issue she said that the operators of Heathrow would be able to make their case for Heathrow expansion at the call for evidence but that the position of the coalition government was one of no Heathrow expansion thus implying that evidence for third runway there will not be considered.

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BBC Radio 4 You and Yours

The BBC radio program “You and Yours” is to have a discussion of the proposals for a Thames Estuary Airport on the 15/08/12 at midday The program can be heard on Radio 4 FM or at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/ Usually comments on the subject can be sent to the program, some of which make it on air so send your thoughts on Boris Island to the show via their contact page at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/contact-forms/you-and-yours/ You can use the #youandyours to coment on the subject on Twitter.

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The BBC Does It Again

Once again the BBC has given Boris Johnson free range to air his views virtually unchallenged. On Newsnight on the 28th May 2012 Boris was given a slot of approximately 10 minutes to promote his views on the construction of a Thames estuary airport. Once again during the “Interview” the views of Boris went almost completely unchallenged other than when it was pointed out that a new Estuary airport was out side of his area of his Mayoral authority (or any of his voters) to which his reply was that “there are few human beings living there”. The BBC nationally must really take responsibility for is actions on this subject and not just follow the usual London-centric line.

 

Make your voice heard to the BBC and make a complaint about this ongoing biased reporting of this issue:

 

Complain Online at:
https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms

 

By Phone on:
03700 100 222 (24 hours, charged as 01/02 geographic numbers)

 

By Post at:
BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Darlington
DL3 0UR

 

Make sure you demand a response to your complaint, and when that is not satisfactory (as it most certainly won’ t be and will probably receive a response like this “We wanted to explore how Boris Johnson planned to reconcile the competing demands of local residents,the environment,airlines and business travellers.I don’t accept that the Mayor’s replies went unchallenged-” ”There was limited time for this interview so it wasn’t possible to cover every aspect of the story but I’m sure it’s something we shall return to as the plans develop.“ as was received in response to previous complaints about reporting on the Today program) move on to stage 2 of the complaints procedure as outlined at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/handle-complaint it is not until you have got to stage 3 of the complaints process and are dealing with the BBC Trust that your complaint will be taken seriously so stick with it.

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Torys Move Up A Gear For Boris Island

This week has seen two of the three Tory stooges (David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson) publicly display their thinly veiled support for Boris Island. Speaking to the Institute of Civil Engineering on Monday Cameron stated “we need to retain our status as a key global hub for air travel, not just a feeder route to bigger airports elsewhere, in Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Dubai.”
Yes, this will be controversial. We will need to take decisions for the long-term – and we will be bringing forward options in our aviation strategy which will include an examination of the pros and cons of a new airport in the Thames Estuary.” During the speech Cameron talked about the need to build visionary infrastructure projects,  in reference to the governments reforms of planing law he stated that “No government has acted with the necessary determination to blast through the vested interests and bureaucratic hurdles” indicating that once the decision to build has been made no degree of opposition will stop plans going ahead. Indeed he sighted the communist dictatorship in China that demolished the homes of tens of thousands ordinary people to build its’ Olympic park as a model of planning policy.

Mean while In his budget speech Stooge No. 2 stated “I also believe this country must confront the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England” and that “The Transport Secretary will set out Government thinking later this summer.” so while we are all hung over from the jubilee party and our attention is diverted by the Olympics we can expect the ill named Justine Greening to sneak out a statement telling us where they intend to put Boris’s folly.

What with this and the announcement that there are going to be a whole raft of new private toll roads, that no one other than the rich will be able to afford to drive, on this is not turning out to be the “greenest government ever” so much as one determined to turn the entire South East of England a rather concrete shade of grey.

 

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Download and Display

Medway council have issued two poster designs that you can download, print and display to show your opposition to Boris island. you can download the posters by visiting the “Stop Estuary Airport” website at http://www.stopestuaryairport.co.uk and clicking on the “Download our campaign poster” link about a third of the way down the page. there is also another version of the poster to download a couple of lines further down. These are much more striking new posters than the old poster which can still be downloaded by clicking on the “download poster link at the top of the page. While you are on the site don’t forget to sign the petition against the airport. If you have already signed the petition you can directly download the posters by right clicking on the links Here and Here and selecting “save as” in IE or “save link as…” in Firefox.

Print Them Off And Paste Them Up

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