Local public meeting suggests possible uses for Manston – aircraft breaking, painting etc
A fighting fund has been set up in an attempt to save Manston airport . A large public meeting has been held, to back the airport’s attempts to stay open, somehow, and raise money for the fund. Its aim is not clear. At the start of the meeting MP Sir Roger Gale revealed that he and fellow MP Laura Sandys had held meetings with a potential buyer for the airport. Sir Roger said the outcome of his negotiations with a “significant potential investor” will become clear in the next 4 – 5 days. There is a Save Manston Airport group, and a Why Not Manston? group. Among the ideas presented for the survival of the airport was the suggestion that Manston could become an aircraft recycling facility. The airport may already have a licence to carry out aircraft breaking. It was also suggested that Manston could become a specialist in aircraft painting, or that it could be run by the Council [and cost the council a fortune from its losses?] The issue of the noise, directly over Ramsgate, from old and unduly noisy freight planes using Manston remains a key local issue. As a functioning airport, it is just not in the right place.
- CROWD: Packed Manston meeting
- A FIGHT fund has been set up to save Manston airport after a donation from a former Pfizer worker.
At a Save Manston Airport public meeting held at the Winter Gardens today, pharmaceutical program manager Rebecca Baty kicked the fund off with a pledge of cash.
Ms Baty had already paid for the hire of the Winter Gardens hall for the meeting and said she would double that amount to start a fight fund to promote the airport.
The IT expert, who now works for Roche in Basel, Switzerland, said she did it “because I have the money and can.” She went on to challenge members of the audience to also pledge cash.
Many of the several hundred people packing out the hall stood to say they would contribute to the fund.
At the start of the meeting MP Sir Roger Gale revealed that he and fellow MP Laura Sandys had held meetings with a potential buyer for the airport.
He said: “We are now in a very delicate stage of discussion and negotiation which will either succeed or fail. It may become clearer in the next four or five days. Half an hour ago I held in my hand a letter from a significant potential investor, who I am satisfied has the money to make a bid. It hasn’t been made but the money is there.
“I met with Ann Gloag before Easter and I think we reached an understanding that she wants to sell the airport. The buyer must be able to pay, not necessarily the asking price but a realistic price. But it is no use coming back in three months time when someone else has failed so a buyer must also have the money to give the airport a fair wind and give it a couple of years to give it a firm footing.”
Sir Roger was due to attend a further meeting about Manston at 3pm today, another with the airport working group at the House of Commons on Monday and will also meet “an interested party” in London on Tuesday.
Other speakers on the panel were Save Manston Airport interim chairman Keith Churcher, group founder Dan Light, Thanet Ukip leader Roger Latchford, Lib Dem parliamentary hopeful Russ Timpson, Nicholas Reed from Why Not Manston and Wendy Fraser, also from Save Manston Airport.
There were also speakers from TG Aviation, the Hurricane and Spitfire Museum and David Foley, from east Kent’s chamber of commerce.
Ruth Bailey, from Save Manston Airport, handed Sir Roger a 15,211 signature petition which he promised would reach the “right place.”
Among the ideas presented for the survival of the airport was the suggestion that Manston could become an aircraft recycling facility.
Mr Timpson, who previously worked for BAA airport operator, said Manston was the only site in the country with the licence to carry out aircraft breaking.
He said: “ There are 11,000 aircraft with nowhere to go to be recycled because there is no purpose built site. Manston is the only place in the UK with the approvals to do this. A purpose built facility would be a major revenue stream.
“We could be taking planes apart, linking with East Kent College for training and apprenticeships and then, when those people are qualified, they could service operational aircraft.”
Mr Timpson also suggested specialising in aircraft painting and looking at a council owned and run airport like that in Newquay.
Suggestions from the panel, and audience, included public and council ownership of Manston, a new referendum on night flights and backing for a Parkway train station.
Speakers in the crowd included former EU Jet and Air Atlanta worker Gary Easton, who said aircraft breaking skills already exist on the isle, Minster resident Danny Day who said any future 106 agreements must include protection for the Spitfire and the Manston museums and Mr Foley who said the airport could make £1 million a year in profit if run properly.
Thanet council leader Clive Hart defended his position on Manston airport saying he had always supported it. But on the question of night flights he added: “Our manifesto was to support the airport but also to support the residents of Thanet.”
He said a cabinet advisory committee was on stand-by to renegotiate the 106 agreement – which bans night flights from the airport – but added: “It would be madness to tell someone running the airport they could have as many night flights as they want, we cannot do that at any environmental cost.”
One of the comments below the article says:
It’s so obvious what is going on here. Everything has always been put down to the scrapping or re-negotiating of the 106 agreement. ‘Oh it is so restrictive’, ‘Oh we cannot keep the airport open unless we have night flights’. It’s all a sham to get the 106 lifted. Scaremongering to get what they want.
Business above environment and residents ! Councillor Hart, don’t be fooled by this and Roger Gales interests in the airport, being nice to you ! Stick to your morals and keep the running timings as they are on the agreement otherwise we will have the noisiest airport in the Country at night, and nothing will be able to stop that once it’s re-negotiated.
The fact is that the airport is underused during the day by passenger aircraft, when they can get a company to use it. Company after company have failed to make a go of it, all ending with losses.
Commercial freight using the noisiest aircraft will be all that happens there, and it will happen during the night keeping half of Thanet awake. No other airport authority in the Country allows noisy freight at night out of respect for their neighbouring residents, that’s why they come into Manston at present ! I don’t believe we should have to put up with it if nobody else has to.
There is a good reason for this. If the airport cannot sustain any daytime flights then it is unfair to expect and allow noisy night flights at it’s residents expense. Mr Gale and party, stop living in Manston’s past like dinosaurs but look to the future, without environmental damage to your constituents.