Manston Airport night flights opposed by Thanet Council
Proposals for limited nighttime flying at Manston Airport in Kent are to be opposed by Thanet District Council. Members of the cabinet agreed the potential economic benefits had been over-estimated and noise disturbance under-estimated. Council leader Clive Hart said a public consultation had “clearly demonstrated” a large number of residents (73%) were against flights operating between 23:00 and 07:00 BST. The cabinet’s recommendation will now go to full council to be debated on 24th May. Mr Hart said: “Encouraging regeneration in Thanet and supporting local businesses is vital to the success of the area, but this can’t come at any cost.” The airport claims night flights are needed so it can become a viable airport, which Infratil are currently trying to sell. The airport will take the views of TDC into account in their decision on night flights. The local MP, Roger Gale, is vehemently in favour of the night flights.
Thanet council due to vote on Manston night flight plans
(Kent News) Tuesday, May 15, 2012
War of words between supporters and opposition
THE row over Manston night flights has reached boiling point, with town hall chiefs due to take a controversial vote on whether or not to support night-time flying.
It follows a war of words between owner of Manston Airport, Infratil, Tory MP for north Thanet Roger Gale, and Labour leader at Thanet council Clive Hart – the latter vehemently opposing the introduction of night flights.
Manston bosses – who are currently trying to sell the airport – and Mr Gale have accused Cllr Hart of failing to take advantage of the airport and warned he was risking huge employment potential where some 3,000 jobs could be created.
But Cllr Hart argued that 73% of respondents to a recent consultation were against scheduled flying between 11pm and 7am, for reasons including excessive noise.
He also stated that an independent assessment of the proposals by consulting firm Parsons Brinkerhoff earlier this year and a subsequent draft consultation response document had raised some concerns.
“As well as underestimating the potential negative impacts, we felt the proposals overestimated the potential economic benefits, overstated the potential number of jobs and did not consider the detrimental impact of night-time flying on Thanet’s recovering tourism industry,” he said.
Cllr Hart stressed that cabinet members want the airport to be a success, but recommended the council should not support night-flights in Thursday’s vote. [Thursday 24th]
But the authority’s role as a consultee means it is not in a position to make a binding decision in respect of the plans.
The final decision will be made by the airport.
Chief executive of Manston Airport Charles Buchanan said there had only been “relatively minor queries” raised in the independent report.
“There are a lot of people in support of these plans,” he said.
“The council had 2,000 people contact them in the consultation. We had almost 1,300 contact us – of the council’s responses they had 73 per cent in opposition of night flights, we had 78 per cent in support.”
Mr Buchanan said the night-time flights would amount to 659 a year.
“That would be the level built up over time,” he said.
“Yes, there would be some people affected, but we would work to minimise the impacts on them.
“People live around airports the whole time – busier airports than this – and Manston has been there close on 100 years. Towns have built up around it, and that’s the position we’re in.
“We would work to minimise impacts of night flights. To oppose the plans is sending out the wrong message – this isn’t just about the airport, but about attitudes towards investment.
“We’ve got to get the economy going and we need leading airlines to take an interest, but unless we have night flights that is unlikely to happen.”
Campaigners argue that flights between 11pm and 7am would disrupt the lives of people living nearby and with certain noise limits set could see the introduction of large freight planes, taking off and landing through the night.
North Thanet MP Mr Gale, however, said Cllr Hart’s arguments “fly in the face” of recommendations of the council’s own commissioned report and pays no attention to “commercial reality”.
“At the very moment when the Department for Transport is looking seriously at Manston for Olympic and post-Olympic potential development and is considering a further upgrade of the rail links between Manston and London, Cllr Hart is effectively saying “we do not want this business”.
“We all recognise the need to strike a balance between the environment and job-creating development, but Thanet council is not seeking to strike that balance in any meaningful way.”
Lots more on the No Night Flights blog
at No Night Flights www.nonightflights.info
Manston Airport night flights opposed by Thanet Council
11 May 2012 (BBC)
Proposals for limited nighttime flying at Manston Airport in Kent are to be opposed by Thanet District Council.
Scheduled night flights at the airport have been suggested to help increase air capacity in the south east.
On Thursday members of the cabinet agreed the potential economic benefits had been over-estimated and noise disturbance under-estimated.
However the airport’s chief executive, Charles Buchanan, said an independent assessment had been misrepresented.
Council leader Clive Hart said a public consultation had “clearly demonstrated” a large number of residents were against flights operating between 23:00 and 07:00 BST.
The cabinet’s recommendation will now go to full council to be debated.
Mr Hart said: “Having considered the views of local people, the findings of our independent assessment and the proposals themselves, it is clear what our recommendation to council had to be.
“We are, however, fully supportive of the airport. Encouraging regeneration in Thanet and supporting local businesses is vital to the success of the area, but this can’t come at any cost.”
Mr Buchanan said: “Their expert recognised the need for the airport to have a limited amount of nighttime flying and flexibility to operate at night in order to become a viable commercial success.
“This is a consultation and ultimately it is our decision to make, but we will give due weight to the opinion that the council brings forward.”
In April, transport minister Theresa Villagers suggested Manston could be used to increase airport capacity in the south east of England.
19 April 2012 (BBC)
Manston could ‘play a role’ in airport capacity needs
Manston airport in Kent could help meet aviation capacity needs in London, according to Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers.
Ms Villiers told delegates at a transport conference the government did not support a third runway at Heathrow.
She said that another solution was needed and that “some would like to see Manston play a role in meeting our aviation capacity needs”.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said: “This is very significant indeed.”
The Conservative MP said: “This is the first time that any senior transport minister has recognised the potential of Manston.
“We’ve been saying for a long time that, given the right rail links and good road links, there is no reason why Manston shouldn’t play a major role in aviation in the south east.
“I know the Secretary of State has taken on board the fact the need is now.
“We are losing business to Holland, we are losing business to France – we can’t wait 20 years – Manson is there now and Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers have recognised that.”
Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston airport in Thanet, said that, in the long term, building a new infrastructure would mean a major airport capacity increase could take about 20 years.
He said that the short term solution to the aviation capacity problem would be to develop the existing infrastructure in the south east, particularly Manston airport, which already has the ability to accommodate intercontinental flights and also has a long runway.
The coalition government is currently consulting on the future of aviation policy and Ms Villiers was speaking at the Transport Times conference, on Wednesday, looking at A New Strategy for UK Aviation – The Case for New Hub Capacity.
The government plans to publish its aviation review in the summer.