Herne Bay Matters blogs on the Manston night flights increase
1.10.2010 (HerneBayMatters blog http://hernebaymatters.com/ )
Herne Bay is about 15 miles north west of Ramsgate and Manston. map
Manston (a.k.a Kent International Airport) is an ex-RAF base in north-east Kent,
and is now owned by Infratil, a New Zealand-based multi-national infrastructure investor. It’s mainly used
for flying clubs, testing and training, and private planes. In 2008, less than
3% of the planes were freight or passenger flights. Infratil’s (November 2009)
Master Plan for Manston is ambitious: they are aiming for 4.752 million passengers; 401,200
tonnes of freight; and 73,897 flights annually.
There is a “Section 106 Agreement” (S106) between Infratil and Thanet District
Council (TDC) which describes what Infratil can, and can’t, do at Manston. The
S106 bans all scheduled night flights between 11pm and 7am, but Infratil now want
to change that. The two key parts of their request are: (1) to lengthen the flying
“day” by 90 minutes, allowing more time for scheduled flights; (2) to allow night
flights within a “noise quota” system. Taken together these would effectively
allow 24 hour arrivals and departures of the noisiest aircraft we currently get,
although this is not how it’s being presented by the Council, the airport or the
If you have dodgy blood pressure, or “anger management issues” it’s probably
a good idea not to read any further.
Infratil (who own and run Manston Airport) have applied to Thanet District Council to change the night time flying policy, allowing them many more night flights.
They want to use a “noise quota system”, which is a bit like calorie counting,
but for noise. Every plane has Quota Count, or QC, number – QC ½, QC1, QC2, QC4,
QC8, QC16. The airport is given an Annual Quota Count total, which is must not
exceed. Every time a plane flies in or out, its QC number is added to the running
tally for the year.
The standard definition of “night” for the aviation industry is 2300 hours to
0700 hours (11pm to 7am), but Infratil want their Annual QC total to apply to
flights between 2330 and 0600 (11:30pm to 6am).
Infratil want to be allowed flights “no greater than QC4”. No other comparable
airport is allowed anything greater than QC2.
Currently, the fines double with each repeat offence for an aircraft, starting
at £1,000 and rising rapidly. This is intended to discourage repeat offenders
who would just shrug off a small fine as a running cost. Infratil want to replace
this with a flat-rate system.
There’s currently £18,000 of “Community Contributions” (i.e. fines) languishing
unspent in the kitty, so Infratil guaranteeing £10k isn’t much of an offer – they’re
already being fined more than that.
Here’s the galling bit: Planes over Herne Bay will only get fined half as much as planes over Ramsgate.
Planes over Herne Bay will only be counted at half their actual QC rating – a
QC4 plane would only add 2 points to the annual tally. It’s not hard to see what
the outcome will be: weather permitting, Manston will be routing as much traffic
as possible to the west. We’ll get hammered.
I’ll be returning to this over the next few days (and weeks and months, I expect),
and let you know how you can help stop this bonkers plan. In the meantime, I suggest
you contact your local councillors, and ask them where they stand on night flights
in general, and over Herne Bay in particular.
At long last we’re getting a clearer picture of what Infratil wants to do with
our sky, and it doesn’t make pretty reading: a 25-fold increase in night flights,
and some sly counting to make it look less.
The owners of Manton airport first started asking for more night flights at the
beginning of 2009, during the BAWC débÃ¢cle. At the time, they claimed it was not
just pressing, but urgent. Some 20 months have passed, during which they submitted
another request, which was useless as it was missing key bits of information like…
er… how many night flights, and how much noise.
Infratil (Manston’s owners) have now got someone to help them type the numbers
– Bickerdike Allen Partners. Charles Buchanan recently portayed BAP as being independent consultants with
a record of even-handedness. Looking at their website, their emphasis seems to be more on acoustic design and sound-proofing buildings,
rather than flight paths. But noise is noise, right?
Risking torture and death, my alarmingly effective spies have brought me BAP’s
draft findings, and they make grim reading:
- Firstly, these people reckon that currently there are 2 night flights A WEEK, on average. You may agree with this number. You may not.
- Secondly, they are seeking permission for 7.7 night flights A NIGHT, on average. You may regard this as acceptable, or even desirable. You may not.
- What really pees me off is the way Infratil are trying to move the goalposts
by tinkering with the definition of “night”. Across the UK, and throughout the aviation industry, “night” is 2300-0700 (or
11pm to 7am, in old money).
Infratil are fond of laying claim to ‘shoulder periods’ which simply have the
effect of shortening the night. In the table below, you will see that Infratil are quite brazen about this manipulation.
During the average night, 7.7 planes would be flying, but only 3 of them would
count towards the Quota Count – simply and solely because Infratil have decided
to designate 2330-0600 as the only period of time that would be subjected to Quota
Count. Thanet District Council must nip this in the bud.
- Infratil’s request for a quota count of 1,995 for the period 2330-0600 is enough
for the three flights they are forecasting in that arbitrarily shortened time-frame.
- To cater for the 7.7 flights they are forecasting in the period covered by the standard definition of night, i.e. 2300-0700, they would need a quota count of 5,120.
Current Night-time Aircraft Movements
Night-time aircraft movements at Manston currently occur on an ad-hoc basis and
involve aircraft of the type that are expected to fly in the future, for example
the B747-400. The number of movements that take place currently vary from week
to week and month to month but are typically around 2 per week at present.
Future Night-time Aircraft Movements
Up to the year 2018, MSE have developed forecasts for future night-time aircraft
movements that indicate the following number of movements over a calendar year
and during a typical night:-
Night-time Aircraft Movements (2018)
|23.00 – 23.30|
|23.30 – 06.00*|
|06.00 – 07.00|
* (Night-time Quota Period)
A detailed breakdown of the aircraft movement numbers by aircraft type are presented
in Appendix A. For the Night-time Quota Count Period, the quota count sought for
the calendar year amounts to 1995.
The above information forecasts that in 2018, an average of 7.7 flights per night
will take place with over 60% taking place during what are known as the shoulder
periods of 23.00 – 23.30 and 06.00 to 07.00 hours. lt is generally accepted that
the most sensitive time for people at night is the intervening period and, from
recent research, particularly during the hours of 01.00 to 06.00.
Listen up, good people: your Quality of Life is at stake. Scheduled night flights
would be a nightmare – you can help stop them before they start.
The current owners of Manston Airport are about to ask for permission to schedule
passenger and cargo flights throughout the night. This is a major change in the
way the airport is used, so Thanet District Council will be launching a public
My glum forecast is that this will turn out to be a ham-fisted and flaky exercise,
with both TDC and Infratil (the airport owners) doing their best to engineer a
“yes” result. Smoke and mirrors, misinformation and partial truths will all play
I’ve been to some of the public meetings, and it’s clear that a lot of good people
have a lot of good questions that need answering. What I am hoping to do is collect
all those good questions in one place. They can then be honed and sharpened into
sharp and deadly one- or two-liners, which everyone will then have at their fingertips,
which could be very handy for the next meeting.
I’ve started you off with a couple of dozen – I expect you’ve got a few dozen
more between you! Please use the Comments facility at the bottom of the article
- add a new heading
- add a new question
- rephrase an existing question
A1. What area will be covered: Ramsgate, selected postcodes, everyone under the
flight path… ?
A2. When will the consultation start and finish?
A3. How is TDC going to make sure that everyone knows about the consultation?
A4. What information will be provided before and during the consultation?
A5. Will the information provided be in plain English?
A6. Will there be a “Yes/No” to night flights question?
A7. How are the results going to be assessed and communicated?
A8. What if the majority say “No” to Night Flights?
A9. Will under-18s get the vote?
A10. How much is the consultation costing, and who’s paying?
A11. Will the consultation be just on Night Flights, or on a whole new S106?
B1. How many planes?
B2. How noisy?
B3. What days of the week will they be flying?
B4. What times of day?
B5. What flight paths will they be using for take-offs to the East and West,
and landings from the East and West?
B6. Will 2300-0700 (11pm to 7am) remain the working definition of “night”?
C: Old (current) S106
C1. Why risk judicial review by extending S106 without having fully (or even
adequately) enforced the existing one?
C2. Who decided not to enforce the existing S106, year after year?
D: New S106
D1. How does TDC propose to monitor the new S106?
D2. How does TDC propose to enforce the new S106?
D3. What sanctions and fines are available to TDC under the new S106?
D4. Will TDC exercise the sanctions and impose fines?
E1. Why not have more mobile sound monitors?
E2. How much does a mobile sound monitor cost?
E3. Where can we see the latest “sound footprint” maps?
F1. Are there any analyses available to reassure us that the aquifer is clean?
F2. Is there an inspection programme in place to monitor the effects of increasing
traffic on aquifer pollution?