Today's guest blog gives a flavour of what it's like to face the obliteration of your local landscape - with all its connections and heritage - not to mention internationally important wildlife.  Friends of North Kent Marshes was formed in the heat of battle ten years ago when last the airport planners came calling.

David Leans’ epic film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” starring John Mills, opened with the lines, "Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within as the river wound twenty miles of the sea."

It was powerful, evocative stuff, and today we live on those very same marshes, have raised our families here, and we fought with all our might to save this most precious wilderness from becoming the UK's largest airport. On the back of the ‘No airport at Cliffe campaign’, we formed Friends of the North Kent Marshes to promote, protect and celebrate all that is so important about the area.

In the film, the marshes and the estuary are brooding, wild, almost menacing. And so they can be. But they are also magnificent, welcoming, and life-enhancing; they feel like they are part of your very being.

There is a rich cultural heritage here; our medieval landscapes have been superimposed with Norman churches, ruined castles, Napoleonic forts, and a more recent industrial history of cement and explosives. The Magna Carta is said to have been drafted in the old rectory at Cliffe.

But this human history is underpinned by an even deeper natural heritage. The estuary is an ever-changing landscape of soaring skylarks and ghost-like owls, of huge flocks of dunlin and knot, of herons and egrets fishing the margins while grebes and avocets dance on the pools.

Avocet in flight - picture RSPBImages

We have the UK's largest breeding heronry at RSPB Northward Hill

Our wildlife and habitats in the Thames estuary are so important that they have the highest protection under local, national and international law and if our government chose to destroy these globally important sites on an economic whim then nowhere in Britain would be safe from development.

Quite unbelievably we are back where we were only ten years ago, explaining to a new set of government ministers why there can NEVER be a new hub airport in or around the Thames estuary.

We have been here before & every time it has been rejected but we are appalled that some of those in the coalition Government, the Mayor of London, Lord Foster and others are so unaware of the facts and are seemingly still so ignorant of the global importance of the Thames estuary and its wildlife.

However, we who live around the estuary are aware of the facts and do know why the government must not allow such inappropriate development here

Our wildlife and habitats in and around the Thames estuary are so important that they have the highest protection under local, national and international law and if our Government chose to destroy these globally important sites then nowhere in Britain would be safe. 

A twelve times greater risk of birdstrike even after aggressive bird management would make an estuary airport the most dangerous major UK airport to fly from. Safety could not be guaranteed!

An estuary airport would be extremely expensive £50 billion and upwards. It would not meet the requirements of the aviation industry and would result in the closure of Heathrow and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in west London according to aviation experts.

The argument for a massive increase in aviation capacity cannot fit with the UK Governments targets to reduce emissions

To site a gargantuan 4 runway 24/7 major new hub airport here would have catastrophic effects on people, wildlife and the planet, it would be environmental vandalism on a grand scale!

We call on all government departments involved in this major decision to listen to the RSPB - who can explain why the arguments put forward by the Mayor of London, Lord Foster and others are so deeply flawed on so many levels - economically, environmentally and ecologically.

As communities, alongside the RSPB and many others, we are once again stepping up for nature, talking to the media, making banners, erecting placards and putting No Estuary airport stickers in our cars We are  saying  NO ESTUARY AIRPORT anywhere and everywhere we can.    

We are ready and we will fight any attempt to destroy our natural heritage with the utmost vigour.

No Thames Estuary Airport - 2012 the campaigning begins again.

Friends of the North Kent Marshes

Conservation and Communities United