Pickles still involved in Lydd Airport case
LYDD Airport's fate remains in the hands of two top Tory ministers, despite widespread rumours that one of them had been removed from the case due to his alleged RSPB interests.
The outcome of the public inquiry into the airport's proposed expansion plans is due this summer and the final decision will be made jointly by MPs Eric Pickles and Justine Greening.
Strong rumours had been circulating among both airport supporters and objectors that Mr Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, was no longer involved in the Lydd case.
On his personal website, the political heavyweight calls himself a regular birdwatcher, labelling it a "very relaxing and enjoyable hobby", yet the RSPB has been one of the most vocal groups fighting the airport's plans.
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But Mr Pickles' department told the Herald this week that he is still involved with the decision and continues to work alongside Ms Greening, secretary of state for transport.
It comes as the war of words between airport supporters and objectors re-ignited following a few months of relative calm.
The Herald revealed last week that Lydd Airport Action Group, which is against the expansion plans, recently submitted new evidence about nuclear safety to the Government.
Officials have now ordered more consultation into the issue, delaying the decision again – a move airport supporter Michael Walsh, of Friends of Lydd Airport Group, branded a "deliberate breach of rules" by LAAG.
While Louise Barton of LAAG welcomed the extra focus on nuclear safety, a spokeswoman for the airport said it was "outraged" that further evidence had been submitted several months after the public inquiry closed.
She said: "They are clearly worried about the decision going in Lydd Airport's favour or they wouldn't have felt the need to submit further evidence at such a late stage.
"Let's hope their fears are correct and people see that their 'scaremongering' and delaying tactics will not wash with the Government."