A NEW airport at Maplin Sands, off the coast of Foulness – which prompted huge opposition in the Seventies – will be considered again.

Earl Attlee, Government transport spokesman, told the House of Lords a new airport at Maplin Sands will be looked at as part of an investigation into aviation capacity in the south-east.

A new Thames Estuary airport will also be considered as part of the inquiry by the Airports Commission.

The prospect of a new airport at Maplin Sands sparked a huge campaign in the Seventies and was shelved in 1974 in the wake of an oil crisis.

Lord Higgins,a Tory peer, asked Earl Attlee in the Lords debate: “Given the legislation for a hub at Maplin Sands went through with comparatively few problems back in the mid-Seventies, is there not a case for looking at that site again?”

Earl Attlee responded: “The Airports Commission will look at all sites, including Maplin Sands or the Thames Estuary airport, and will then come up with a shortlist of which options need to be looked at in greater detail.

Rochford district councillors have dismissed the latest investigation into Maplin Sands as a “complete waste of money”, claiming none of the problems of access or cost that stopped the plans in the Seventies had been solved.

Terry Cutmore, Tory leader of the council, said: “Any proposal would be incredibly expensive.

“Because of where it is situated, if any proposal did come forward, there would have to be a great deal of investment in local transport infrastructure.

“Yes, you can get there, but Maplin Sands is not easily accessible like Southend or Stansted Airport–that does not make it particularly attractive to air passengers.”

“The site is also very close to testing facilities run by the MoD that would be very difficult to replace.

“The plans are unworkable and any investigation would be a total waste of money.”

Mr Cutmore said an airport would bring extra jobs and investment to the area, but this could be at a high cost.

He added: “Muchof Rochford is very green and residents have a good quality of life.

“We want to preserve that as much as possible.”

The last government considered the plans again in 2002, but they were again abandoned for being unworkable.

Speaking in the Lords debate, Lord Attlee, said: “The long-term question of aviation capacity is a matter of national importance.

“It is vital the Airports Commission has sufficient time to carry out a thorough investigation of the options, and to build consensus around its long-term recommendations.

“The timetable set for its final report, by the summer of 2015, will allow this to take place, and will enable a stable, long-term solution to be found.”