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Talks with landowners delay Lydd Airport runway expansion

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

An airport manager says negotiations are still taking place six months on to secure extra land to expand a runway.

Lydd Airport's executive manager Hani Mutlaq has revealed talks to secure additional land will not be resolved until next year.

Hopes the runway expansion would start this summer were dashed back in June when it emerged there had been setbacks in purchasing the necessary land.

Lydd Airport, Lydd.
Lydd Airport, Lydd.

More space is required to expand the runway by nearly 300 metres for fully-loaded passenger jets.

Mr Mutlaq said: "We are still in negotiations with the land owners, but expected completion time has not been achieved.

"We hope we can sort the land issue during 2019."

It was previously expected that work would start in summer 2018 and be completed by early 2019.

Mr Mutlaq has expressed his frustration at delays in the past, while preliminary groundworks have already been completed at the site for some time.

The two main projects which will see the biggest change to the airport’s traffic and see passenger numbers soar are a new terminal and an extension to the runway.

Both proposals were initially put forward for the site, also known as London Ashford Airport, 12 years ago in December 2006.

Lydd Airport executive manager Hani Mutlaq. Photo: Leah Taylor
Lydd Airport executive manager Hani Mutlaq. Photo: Leah Taylor

Approval was granted by Folkestone and Hythe District Council - then called Shepway - in 2010 to extend the existing 1,500m runway by 294m and a 150m starter area, and to build a brand new terminal facility capable of taking 500,000 passengers a year.

Cllr Clive Goddard (Con), who represents Lydd within the Walland and Denge Marsh ward, said: "I think everybody will be disappointed by the delay.

"As soon as permission is granted, you want to see some bricks and mortar.

"Hopefully everybody can get around a table and get this started - build it and see it take off.

"I think it's important for jobs for the future."

The first Small Planet plane touches down at Lydd Picture
The first Small Planet plane touches down at Lydd Picture

Once completed, the runway will be able to handle fully loaded Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft.

There has been a waiting list for hangars and bosses were considering adding more to the airport to increase its £35 million investment to the site so far.

The airport said previously that the expansion will maximise the routes and choice of aircraft available to airlines and will "provide much needed extra capacity in the South East".

Their aim is to create a successful and modern regional airport creating new jobs and "act as a catalyst for economic growth" in the county.

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