Kent Wildlife Trust, the county’s leading conservation charity, has warned that any airport development in the Thames Estuary would be catastrophic for fragile ecosystems and wildlife, and that it is prepared to fight any proposals.

This is in the wake of news that the Government may include options for an airport in the Thames Estuary in a draft policy framework for UK aviation that is due to go out for public consultation in March this year.

Chief Executive of Kent Wildlife Trust, John Bennett, said: “The Thames and Medway estuaries are extremely rich in wildlife and are internationally important for nature conservation. An airport here, whether coastal or offshore, will be catastrophic for wildlife communities.

“The impact on breeding, feeding and migratory birds will be huge, but there is also a wider community that includes wildflowers, bees, water voles and brown hares. Offshore, there are important habitats for fish and seals.

“Thames Estuary Airport options must be withdrawn from the draft policy framework for UK aviation.

“Ten years ago, Kent Wildlife Trust, with many others, successfully campaigned against plans for an airport at Cliffe Marshes in North Kent. However, the area is still under considerable pressure. If necessary, we are prepared to fight once more to protect our natural heritage.”

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