Lydd airport has won its High Court battle to carry on with its expansion.
The High Court has this morning dismissed two appeals, by the RSPB and Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG), to stop the development.
The airport had in April last year won planning permission from the government for a 294-metre runway extension and a new terminal for 500,000 passengers a year.
The RSPB and LAAG had brought the case to the London court in January to challenge that government ruling.
Lydd airport executive manager Hani Mutlaq said: “The judge has today confirmed what we all knew: there was no legal basis for an appeal against the Government’s decision to back our exciting plans for the redevelopment of Lydd Airport.
“With this distraction behind us we can press ahead with delivering a project which will help regenerate this part of Kent, create jobs and bring hope to families throughout the area.
Lydd Airport executive manager Hani Mutlaq
“The airport is now nearing completion of a number of pre-commencement conditions required to enable planning permission for the runway extension to be implemented.
“We hope to invite contractors to tender for the runway construction project in late summer and anticipate that work will begin before the end of the year.”
Andre Farrar, RSPB spokesman, said: “We are disappointed. This airport has been very much a long-running issue for us for decades and this is clearly a setback.
“We do not believe that the development of an airport is right for this part of the world.
“We are going to assess the judgement in full with an eye to proceeding the next stage.”
“We are disappointed. This airport has been very much a long-running issue for us for decades and this is clearly a setback" - Andre Farrar
Mr Farrar said it was far to early for the RSPB to make a decision but appealing against the High Court’s decision was one option.
The RSPB has repeated its fears over the effect on bird life from an expanded area and Mr Farrar said: “Dungeness is an extremely importact part of the UK for wildlife and it has statuses such as Site of Special Scientific Interest.
“This is one of our many nature reserves and we want to protect the future of Dungeness.”
LAAG is expected to respond shortly.
Shepway District Council leader David Monk said: “This is marvellous news. It is good for the economy of the Marsh.
“It’s up to the airport now to go ahead with its plans because they will provide important job opportunities for the future.
“There are young people who will be coming out of the Marsh Academy, where would they find a job?”
Shepway councillors had voted 27 to 12 to grant planning permission for the development in May 2010, against a recommendation by officers.
Shepway council leader Cllr David Monk
With the swell of protests against that, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles overruled the councillors’ decision and called the matter in for public inquiry.
That went on for months in 2011 and both Mr Pickles and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, after examining the evidence, gave the airport permission to develop in April 2013.
Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins said: “It is excellent news The investment in the airport can now go ahead.
“There are no other grounds for appeal for the opponents. It shows that the government was right to be very careful and methodical. They crossed every T to produce a watertight case and this has been proven.
Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe
“The case for development has now been upheld by the planning inspector, the Secretaries of State and now the High Court.”