A COUNCILLOR is backing residents of Middleton St George who object to the proposed £56m expansion of Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Councillor Doris Jones, a former Mayor of Darlington, has been working with residents who oppose office and property development on the site, which is less than 100m from homes.

If approved, the plans by Peel Holdings Ltd will see the development built on green field land, next to the Oaktree Estate in the Middleton St George ward of Darlington.

The first application includes the extension and refurbishment of the terminal, cargo and maintenance village, extended car parks, aircraft stands, bus and taxi stops and a new sewage treatment plant.

The second is an outline application for a business park, hotel, public house and restaurant, associated car parks and landscaping.

Over 70 residents objected at last month's Middleton St George Parish Council meeting.

Their fears included the destruction of green land, an increase in noise and air pollution and the possible increase in crime.

Since the meeting, Coun Jones has written to planning officers at Darlington and Stockton councils and is raising the matter with the Government office of the North-East.

She said: "I have been working with residents to put a strong case against the development of this part of the airport site. Residents are not trying to stop Teesside and Darlington people getting access to more flights, but this plan is about increasing asset value and is not directly linked to flights for local people.

"It is merely a property development that is unrelated to passenger traffic at the airport.

"This sort of commercial property development is far better confined to existing brown field sites to the north of the airport."