Government plans to build a £6.5bn airport in Rugby could be abandoned after the Civil Aviation Authority's safety division warned of the threat posed by a nearby bird sanctuary
Government consultants chose a location for an airport for the West Midlands on green-belt land in the villages of Church Lawford and Kings Newnham in Warwickshire without asking the CAA for advice. As a result, they did not take into account a gull roost at Draycote Water, located two miles from the site in a direct line with its flight path.

Up to 40,000 black-headed gulls live at the roost in winter. Large birds can bring an aeroplane down if sucked into its engines. In its guidance, the CAA says: "A major [gull] roost on a reservoir or large lake close to an aerodrome is an intractable and permanent bird hazard of the most acute type."

The Warwickshire Wildlife Trust wrote to the CAA informing the body of the problem. In a letter of reply, Stan Brown, head of aerodrome safety regulation and inspection for the CAA, said: "This department of the CAA has not been involved in any discussions with government regarding a new aerodrome in the Midlands. However, please be assured that the CAA will only license an aerodrome when they are satisfied that it is safe for use by aircraft."

The letter added that similar concerns over bird hazards have been voiced in Kent, another area in which transport minister Alistair Darling has mooted the idea of an airport. Medway and Kent councils have since launched a legal challenge to the government's aviation transportation document.

A major roost close to an aerodrome is an intractable bird hazard of the most acute type

Civil Aviation Authority guidance