Saturday, 23 April 2011

West by Sou’west

Water to the North.
Water to the East.
Water to the South-East.

The clue is in the name “Isle of Thanet”, before draining of an area around the River Wantsum in the Middle Ages, Thanet was in fact an island.  Access onto this” island” is still from one direction only, West by South-West, a corridor where all land based communication must pass.

This has certain repercussions for the prosperity of the area, everything and everyone has to enter and exit from one direction, which makes for an amount of isolation. This is a geographic fact of life which cannot be changed, so when planning for airport expansion we must factor into the equation that the airport has a catchment area one quarter the size of an inland airport. This is a good reason to plan for moderate expansion and not be too over ambitious about its growth potential. This is not to say that a thriving airport does not have a part to play in the regeneration of Thanet but it will not single-handedly be Thanet’s saviour.

The degree of isolation caused by Thanet’s island status has a certain allure to tourists and this should be promoted and encouraged to build on the foundations set by the Turner Contemporary.

Another factor which is overlooked when planning a massive airport expansion is our newly acquired HS1 train service joins the main high speed line at Ashford where it competes with Channel Tunnel traffic for space on the high speed line. Trains from Thanet will always be considered secondary to the cross channel services.

We need a reality check and some solid research into these aspects of airport expansion to establish what is feasible and what is fantasy.

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