THE WAVE of opposition to plans for a huge extension to Southamp-ton Docks at Dibden Bay grew even higher last night.

Scores of disappointed residents had to be turned away from a public meeting at Hythe and Dibden Parish Hall which became packed to capacity with an estimated 400 already inside 15 minutes before the meeting was due to start.

It would have been an even bigger turn-out than the previous night's attendance for a similar meeting at Marchwood where revised estimates have put the figure for that meeting at around 450.

Because of the full house, some disappointed protesters were asked to turn up for tonight's third meeting in the series of four at Hardley School near Fawley at 8pm.

Another bumper crowd is expected there and for the final meeting at Totton's Testwood School tomorrow.

Once again, there was overwhelming opposition to the proposals by Southampton Docks owner Associated British Ports with a massive show of hands against the scheme and none in favour.

And there was another burst of confidence that the scheme for a massive container port between Hythe and Marchwood could be beaten with two potential general election opponents both predicting victory for the anti-port campaign.

Hythe's Hampshire county councillor Brian Dash, who is Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for New Forest East, described the Dibden Bay proposals as "the nightmare we have got to face."

But he scorned suggestions that permission was inevitable and added: "I say no - and you have got to think like that."

Conservative MP Julian Lewis, who won the Forest East seat at the last election and has also expressed vehement opposition to the plan, was quick to agree with his election opponent.

He outlined a series of commercial snags facing ABP in its applications for approval and commented: "I not only say we can win, we will win."

The meeting again heard of potential noise and traffic problems for residents both during construction and port operation and in issuing a strong warning about potential light pollution, Hythe and Dibden Parish Council's vice-chairman Chris Harrison warned: "It's going to be so bright at night down there that the seagulls will need sunglasses."

The meetings are being called by the Residents Against Dibden Bay Action Group and its chairman Paul Vickers, delighted at another huge attendance, was also in buoyant mood.

After outlining a lack of commercial need for the scheme, he cited a recent visit to the old War Office, where a notice near the chair of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned: "Any talk of defeat is strictly forbidden."

He summed up: "We have put a lot of hours into this, but we believe in our case and we believe we are going to win."