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Business group Demand for Regeneration in North Kent dismissed Medway Council airport survey findings as "bunkum"

By Lizzie Massey

Only one in six people support Boris Johnson’s airport plans, according to a survey part-funded by Medway Council.

But the results have been described as "bunkum" and "virulent spin" by pro-airport campaigners.

Carried out by ComRes and commissioned by Medway and Kent County Council, the questionnaire asked more than 2,000 adults in Britain if they supported plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

While over a third said they would support an estuary airport, only 16% maintained that view when told existing facilities at Heathrow, City and Southend would close as a result.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s proposal to the Airports Commission include an option to site a four runway development in the Thames Estuary, for the UK to maintain its place in a competitive global aviation market place.

Rodney Chamber, leader of Medway Council
Rodney Chamber, leader of Medway Council

Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers said: “No one disputes the need to invest more in aviation in order to ensure the UK keeps pace with demand and matches competition from abroad.

“However, we strongly believe that plans to site a hub airport in the Thames Estuary is financially, geographically and environmentally wrong.

“This survey highlights the chronic lack of public support for the project. Most people will not back a scheme which closes other key airports.”

People surveyed also said that, on average, the maximum time they would be prepared to travel from Central London to an airport near London would be just under an hour.

And half said it would not acceptable to increase airline ticket costs in order to fund a new airport.

But Demand for Regeneration in North Kent, a business lobby group which wants the estuary airport hit back at the survey. Its director Clive Lawrence said: "This is a particularly virulent example of council spin.

"The claim that only 1 in 6 support the airport is complete tosh. It’s based on bogus questions (6 & 7) which say: '...the construction of the Thames Hub Airport would require the closure of Heathrow Airport, London City Airport and Southend Airport…'

Clive Lawrence has died aged 69
Clive Lawrence has died aged 69

"This is bunkum. London City would continue. After all, it’s happily in business while directly beneath the current Heathrow flightpath. Don’t know about Southend yet, but even if it had to close, many local people would cheer as it’s within the town boundaries and hasn’t the space to build a taxi lane.

"You might have got a similar negative response if you had said the airport would generate swarms of killer bees to invade your home.

He said the survey revealed that fully 46% of people in London and the south east support the estuary project

He added: "We think that’s great news and something that the councils wouldn’t want publicised. It's an amazing response in the face of years of consistently negative propaganda from our elected leaders.

"DRINK’s position is that the impact of the airport will be felt locally, so just ask local people only. Why did they spend our cash asking people in Glasgow, Derry and the Isles of Scilly for their views?"

To view the data visit www.comres.co.uk

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