What use the airport after 2012

From: Richard Adams, Leigh (also a concerned resident).

I can’t help other than to be totally sympathetic with the author of the letter on the airport in your last issue.

The rush for sale and development of the airport smacks a lot of opportunism and short termism. Is it just to enable big business to maximise the profitability of 2012?

Why will foreign visitors want to fly to southend after the Olympics? To see the Pier? Shop at Fossetts Farm retail park? I am yet to be convinced that other than a budget airline dumping London-bound passengers at a provinial (cheap to operate) airport, just how many people will be using Southend airport in 2013 and thereafter.

I also cannot understand why the rush to build a train station? Surely Rochford station – at least half a mile away – on the northern side of the airport could have operated a shuttle service?

After all, at most major airports, it would take you longer to get to a departure gate than a shuttle from Rochford to Southend airport. Is it local council tax payers money paying for this?

As with most of us who travel – by air, land or sea – the most important thing is to reach your destination as soon as possible. Any passengers landing at Southend will want to get to London asap and will require a fast, cheap and regular train service.

I have discounted via road because I cannot see the road infrastructure improving locally until retail building is stopped completely or a new exit road is built – neither of which will happen in my lifetime.

Has anyone of the potential buyers of the airport travelled by rail between Southend and London on a regular basis? I think not!

Will flights be postponed whilst buses try to negotiate the congested roads between rail stations when power lines are down or engineering works over-run?

The cynic in me thinks it will be all gung-ho up to 2012 and then the airport will gradually fall into decline over the following years and will be sold off piecemeal for commercial and/or residential development.

The station will be ideal for the ‘new’ village that is subsequently developed. I’m sure that is a hidden part of the sale prospectus which we will never see.

Southend Council has been quite irresponsible towards Leigh over the years – remember the road to the West and the demolishing of Old Leigh, the more recent carefree planning consent given to builders of flats or the conversion of retail units into bars and cafes – so I cannot see them bothering about 50 or 60 flights a day going over us.

We, in Leigh, can shout all we like – I’m yet to hear of a consultation exercise changing the course of pre-planned events – but I’m afraid thedecision has already been taken by Southend Council, or the important players of Southend Council, so we had better get ready to have a few aircraft coming over us – for a couple of years anyway!

Now where can I get a council tax rebate claim form?

Increase in air traffic is a cause for concern

From: Hazel and Mervyn Francis, Leigh

We would like to express our agreement and support for the views recently expressed in your paper regarding the development of Southend Airport (June 17 edition).

We are dismayed at the prospect of an increase in noise and chemical pollution which would result from the proposed expansion. Already it is unpleasant being in our garden as a result of constant noise caused by the seemingly endless stream of light aircraft overhead. The prospect of heavier planes flying overhead in addition to the present traffic flow causes us great concern.

In addition, we are concerned about the impact such an increase would have on our already overloaded infrastructure. We live in one of the most congested parts of Britain. It also seems extraordinary in these times of spiralling oil costs and concerns about the control over carbon emissions that any airport expansion is regarded as a good idea. Finally, we would appreciate a much wider public debate about the impact of an expanding airport and this should be encouraged by your newspaper.

DENIED A SAY IN AIRPORT PLANS

From: John Golding, Flemming Ave, Leigh.

I am also concerned over the impact of proposed development of Southend Airport. I feel that residents in the borough need to wake up and believe that our councillors have denied the electorate the opportunity to have their say when they removed the subject from the political agenda in the previous election.

In view of this perhaps your newspaper could run a referendum to gauge the mood of the residents of the borough, not that this will have any influence on our councillors or planners who already ignore the please of residents against proposed building developments. I trust that the Leigh Times and the Southend Times will continue to report fully on all items concerning this development so that residents can make an informed decision as to the desirability of the airport expansion and whether they wish to remain residents of this borough.

TAKE POSITIVE ACTION

From: Chris Jennings, Leigh

I have only lived in Leigh for two years and cannot understand the lack of concern about the airport expansion. Are we going to accept a large increase in heavy plane traffic overhead? I hope not.

Come on, this newspaper should start a campaign against this and get the people of Leigh to wake up and take some positive action.

FOOTNOTE: This newspaper will be vitally interested to see what emerges in the consultation document, which will be given full coverage and everyone can then make up their minds what are the advantages and disadvantages to the area.Editor.

Business and profits come before residents

From: John Bramble, Leighview Drive, Leigh.

People’s views on the further expansion of Southend Airport will almost certainly reflect where they reside.

Anyone not living close enough to the airport or under the flight path can adopt a reasonably laid-back dispassionate approach and I can imagine they will react positively citing the possibility of increased job opportunities for local people, increased trade for the town, a closer departure point for foreign holidays, etc. That is quite understandable.

However, a dispassionate approach is not possible for people living under the flightpath and now facing the complete erosion of the quality of their dayly lives which will already be adversely affected by the levels of passenger traffic envisaged in the 2005 Airport Master Plan. My own emotions are a mixture of anger and apprehension.

My anger stems from the sheer arrogance of the apparent intention to rush through consultation on proposals which represent a radical departure from the Master Plan for the airport which was published as recently as 2005 and notified the perceived development needs for the next 10 years and beyond.

The main tenets of the Master Plan are indelibly printed on my mind but, just in case others may not remember, they amounted to 20 passenger flights in and 20 out per day by 2015 using aircraft of the type no larger than those using the airport now.

We were not very happy about this inasmuch as the increase in noise throughout the daylight hours would inevitably result in a considerable reduction of our quality of life. No longer would we be able to enjoy a peaceful summer’s evening sitting in the garden.

However, we were at least partly assuaged by the airport authority’s acceptance of the fact that the proximity of housing to the airport meant that its operation and development had to be contained by their stated preparedness to consider an overall limit on operations and by their stated belief that assessments of noise impacts and noise monitoring based on the forecast flights needed to be carried out so that essential controls to safeguard residents could be agreed and put in place.

Now, here we are, barely three years on, and it is already proposed to fundamentally change the goalposts by extending the runway to allow larger and much noisier jet aircraft to become a part of the airport’s daily passenger service and to add insult to injury, to rush through the consultation process at a time when the council are aware that many people will be away.

So then what of the words of reassurance and conciliation (referred to above) associated with the 2005 Master Plan? Will they actually be put into practice or were they perhaps included solely for cosmetic and PR purposes?

I would strongly urge anyone who can see their quality of life being completely eroded if these proposals go through to make the strongest possible representations to their MP and local councillors.

Indeed it would be interesting to know where Coun Longley, who is a regular contributor to the Leigh Times, and who represents many residents living on the flightpath, stands on this issue. At the end of the day, however, I have to say I smell an already done deal.

We constantly hear and read these days about human rights. What, I wonder, has happened to the basic human right of a law-abiding, council tax paying resident to lead a reasonably peaceful existence?

Sadly it looks as though it has to take second place to business interests and potential profits. Another concerned Leigh resident.

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