Protect Kent: Manston airport sale “a chance to introduce proper planning”
The Kent branch of CPRE, Protect Kent, has said that Manston has been unable to become a commercial success for many reasons, not least its lack of infrastructure. They notice the undeniable fact that Manston airport has consistently struggled to attract passengers and airline operators despite the massive amount of investment into it. They hope, along with thousands of local residents in Thanet, that Thanet District Council will take the sale of Manston as an opportunity to bring the operation under the proper control of a robust planning agreement to protect the interests of all of Thanet’s residents. “The prospect of intensification of night flights, while Manston airport has been unable to exploit its daytime capacity, has hung over the county for far too long.”
Manston airport sale “a chance to introduce proper planning”
22.3.2012 (No Night Flights at Manston)
News that Manston airport is up for sale is confirmation that the local infrastructure is not sufficient to sustain an airport, according to one of the most respected campaign groups in the country.
Manston’s New Zealand owner, lnfratil, announced it was selling the site because it wanted to “refocus its investment profile” and concentrate on retail, production and supplying gas and electricity. The move puts 123 jobs at risk.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says the sale is an ideal chance for Thanet council to put into force planning regulations protecting the interests of residents, particularly in the issue of night flights, which lnfratil wanted to introduce amid fierce local opposition. A CPRE spokesman said:
“Of course we are saddened to think that existing jobs at Manston might be put at risk, but it confirms our long-standing concerns that Manston has been unable to become a commercial success for many reasons, not least its lack of infrastructure. Manston airport has consistently struggled to attract passengers and airline operators despite the massive amount of investment into it.
If a fresh start means new operators are able to breathe new life into Manston, we sincerely hope Thanet District Council will take this as an opportunity to bring the operation under the proper control of a robust planning agreement to protect the interests of all of Thanet’s residents. The prospect of intensification of night flights, while Manston airport has been unable to exploit its daytime capacity, has hung over the county for far too long.”
Malcolm Kirkaldie was a member of the former watchdog Manston Airport Group. He said:
“The former owners of the airport never fully addressed local complaints or issues. Developers who come into Thanet need to be accountable to the local community and put something back.”
kentnews.co.uk 19th Mar 2012
Manston as a solar farm ??
One laudable comment on the No Night Flights website says:
If Infratil wants to “refocus its investment profile” and concentrate on retail, production and supplying gas and electricity, because the airport is losing money. Why not convert it to a solar farm?
Manston is on latitude 51°20′ N, clear view to the South, nearby connection point to the grid, non polluting installation over drinking water aquifer, and effectively mothballs the airport. If there is a need for the airport in the future, the panels could be removed.
Ramsgate harbour is already associated with the offshore wind farms, adding solar power would be complementary to its image.
Back in January 2012, Protect Kent (the Kent Branch of CPRE) said:
Written by Jamie Weir
Night flights at Manston have been an extremely contentious issue for many Thanet residents. Some believe that allowing the flights will bring economic prosperity to the area, with much needed local employment opportunities. Others believe that it is unlikely that many jobs will be created.
We took the stance some time ago that we did not believe allowing night flights would bring any real economic benefit to the residents of Thanet, and may in fact bring real harm to the area due to the impacts of noise and air pollution.
We are glad to see that we have been justified in this view by a recently published report authored on behalf of Thanet District Council by Parsons Brinkerhoff, a leading transport consultancy.
This report, which is based on an examination of the documents submitted by Infratil, clearly brings into doubt many of their claims. Parsons Brinkerhoff indicates that Infratil’s views of the economic benefits are wildly over-optimistic, while the impacts of noise – the major concern of residents in the area – have been seriously understated. These two points alone vindicate the local opposition groups, whose concerns have been regarded by some as backward-looking and ‘nimby-ism’.
The fact that Flybe are pulling out in March because they cannot fill planes is damning proof of the lack of demand for flights out of Manston. We simply cannot see how allowing night flights will help Manston grow as a passenger airport, and therefore generate both jobs and economic sustainability for the area.
In light of this recent report, CPRE Protect Kent would ask that there be a full and unrestricted public consultation before any night flights are allowed. This should be open and transparent, with all the facts available. This will enable the people of East Kent to weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of night flights and lobby Thanet District Council accordingly. It is only right they be given this opportunity, as it is their communities and environment that will be significantly affected by the implementation of night flights.