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Kent airport expansion would regenerate area

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Expanding London Ashford Airport would create hundreds of jobs, increase tourism to Kent and regenerate a stagnant local economy, an economic evaluation has found.

Shepway DC is considering two planning applications for a new terminal building capable of handling up to half a million passengers per year and for a 444 metre extension to the existing 1,505 metre runway.

An study requested by the council found unemployment in Shepway in August 2007 was 2.8%, double the average for the south east, and that the available workforce was low skilled with qualification levels well below average.

The larger terminal would generate between 300 and 500 jobs when operating at 500,000 passengers per annum, representing a net addition of between 182 and 393 jobs. The construction of the terminal building and the runway extension would create another 32 full-time equivalent jobs.

The report says: “We would expect the employment opportunities, along with the potential for related skills development and training initiatives, to make a significant contribution to the delivery of regeneration and economic development priorities for this part of Shepway.”

A spokeswoman for Shepway DC said the council would only allow the airport’s expansion providing it did not cause harm to the local environment. The findings of the economic evaluation would be considered when the application is decided by a full council meeting in the next few months.

“We will need to balance these against the environmental effects of airport expansion, especially in a sensitive area such as Romney Marsh,” she said.

The report adds that an adverse impact on prices of houses close to the airport was not anticipated because there would be few aircraft movements per day and no domestic properties close to LAA lie within the 57dB(A) noise contour.

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