New group DRINK to challenge 'kneejerk reaction' against airport
A cross-section of Lord
Foster's plans for an estuary airport
A new group has been set up to
challenge the "kneejerk" opposition to a Thames estuary
The group called DRINK (Demand
Regeneration In North Kent) launched this morning at the
Priestfield business centre, Gillingham.
It comes after north Kent MPs met
transport secretary Justine Greening about the proposals
DRINK claims there has been no proper
debate on a proposed new airport such as Boris Island and that
politicians rejected the ideas out of hand without proper
Speaking after the launch Neville Gaunt, chairman of
the North branch of the Federation of Small Businesses and a
founder of DRINK (pictured left), said the debate so far had been
geared towards saying no to the multi-billion pounds project.
But there could also be benefits for
the community surrounding a huge hub airport, he said.
"Economically, there are bound to be
benefits from regeneration.
"But what we need to do is not just
look at the economic benefits, but the environmental issues. Even
the third runway of Heathrow will have displaced villages and
people. This will do the same.
"Will it do more; will it do
He said the important thing was
finding out what was right for the people displaced.
He added: "How can we benefit those
individuals that will suffer incredibly on behalf of the
Speaking before the event, Dai
Liyanage, former Medway mayor, added: "We are seeing a very rare
event - all parties are united in their opposition. What's not so
unusual is that they may all be quite wrong."
DRINK was a forum for small and medium
companies that would welcome the massive investment an airport
would bring to help "reduce poverty, improve the landscape and
health and provide a better environment for businesses."
Businesses backing DRINK's plans are
being invited to sign a pledge which confirms they want to see the
area improved and will do all they can to make sure it happens.
Six north Kent MPs are
meeting transport secretary Justine Greening about the Thames
Estuary airport proposals today.
Medway MPs Tracey Crouch, Mark
Reckless and Rehman Chishti were granted the meeting along with
Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and
Sheppey) and Gareth Johnson (Dartford).
It comes after they wrote to Prime
Minister David Cameron last month asking for talks in light of
speculation the government is set to announce a consultation on the
The letter called on the government to
look at utilising capacity at existing airports instead.
"The proposals do not appear to be
supported by the public, or indeed by the aviation industry," the
"If any such proposal was to go ahead
it would have an enormous effect on the lives of hundreds of
thousands of residents living in the wider Thames Estuary region
and devastate an area of global environmental significance."
London mayor Boris Johnson wants to
build a floating airport in the Thames Estuary,
while architect Lord Foster wants to site one on the Isle of
The latter would be the biggest
airport in the world, with its four runways handling 150 million
passengers a year.
Meanwhile, London mayoral hopeful Ken
Livingstone has spoken out about plans for a Thames Estuary airport
He told a national newspaper the idea
is unaffordable and would be damaging to wildlife.
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