12 times more dangerous ?

In 2003 government concluded following a lengthy consultation to the then proposals to build an airport at Cliffe (not actually at Cliife but so named as it would have been the only remaining village on the northern half of there peninsula) that the site was unsuitable on economic grounds and 12 times more likely to suffer bird strike than any other Major airport in the UK.

Since that time the the UK Birdstrike committee has reported that the incidence of Bird strike has increased drastically. Furthermore any new civil public aerodrome in the UK would need to satisfy the safety requirements based on the Chicago Convention to which the UK is a founding member. In the time scale that any major Thames Estuary airport would involve, the requirements of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) would also apply. Coastal and Estuarine airports must meet exactly the same safety standards as inland airports. It is for the developer to present a detailed safety case. The issue of a licence or EASA certificate would depend on the satisfactory mitigation of identified hazards including the particular special hazards the Thames Estuary migratory route presents.

EASA concluded recently in a report by the Food & Environment Research Agency that ….

… the volume of air traffic (number of flights) has been increasing year-on-year over the last few decades of the 20th Century and the early years of the 21st Century, as have the numbers and physical size of various species of bird involved in aircraft bird strikes. These factors have led to the perception, by EASA, that the risk of a significant bird strike to an aircraft may be increasing.

96% of all reported bird strikes occur during take off and landing, current birdstrike regulation is based on historic data i.e. are based on reaction to strikes. The majority of data collected globally has been from inland aerodromes where bird populations and reported strikes are recorded between July and October (Summer !)

The Thames Estuary is an internationally recognised wetland whose bird populations increase dramatically during the winter, some 350,000 extra birds all Wildfowl that flock by nature and are over 2lb in weight.

It doesn’t stretch the imagination too far to conclude that The Thames Estuary may be the wrong place to consider as a site for a Hub airport.

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