Progress on developing the airport at Lydd appears minimal. Sufficient work has been implemented (in 2016) to ensure it can claim the runway has been extended from a planning perspective, but it has not been extended physically.
The only new facility as reported last year, is the HM Coastguard search and rescue (SAR) helicopter operation for the south east operated by Bristow Helicopters, which now has a permanent base at Lydd Airport.
Otherwise, activity at the airport remains dominated by light aircraft and private leisure owner/operators as it has been for decades. In 2016 there were 509 passengers (assumed flights to Le Touquet) and although passenger numbers have improved this year (December figures are not available) the data so far indicates the level remains below 1,000 passengers.
The S106 planning obligations have clearly not been fully discharged. Natural England, the government’s adviser on the natural environment) has yet to sign off the air quality management strategy (AQMS) following a report produced by Parsons Brinkerhoff (the airport’s air quality consultant) in April 2017. Natural England has advised that the airport cannot operate the runway extension “unless and until the AQMS has been approved by the Council and implemented by the airport Operator”. The Council can only approve the strategy after it has been signed off by Natural England.
Lydd Airport claims it remains “100% committed” to the runway extension with work hopefully starting in 2018 and completed during 2019. Issues apparently remain in relation to land which must be purchased from a local farmer before the runway extension can take place. In the opinion of the Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG), this issue would have been sorted out long ago had there been demand for Lydd Airport’s new services.
[For further information on this, see our report from 2 years ago – Editor]
Poster image: LAAG