Home ... Herne Bay ... Airport Working Party, 19 May 2009

Hours' worth of minutes

Dear reader, this is how some of us frittered our lives. There's plenty to pick over here, all comments welcome. I've added paragraph numbering for ease of reference and some comments (original version on TDC's website HERE). Council Officer in charge of the AWP: Charles Hungwe.

Airport Working Party, 19 May 2009

Hours’ worth of minutes

Dear reader, this is how some of us frittered our lives. There’s plenty to pick over here, all comments welcome. I’ve added paragraph numbering for ease of reference and some comments (original version on TDC’s website HERE). Council Officer in charge of the AWP: Charles Hungwe.

1. Flight routes, including noise abatement routes
1.1. Over time, noise abatement routes seem to have disappeared. Evidently.There was need for transparency regarding noise abatement routes, which should be clearly defined.
1.2. “Excuses”, which were often given by Airport Operator for non-adherence to proper routes (for example, captain on a training flight had given instruction to turn left instead of right) failed to satisfy residents. Understatement.
1.3. Planes taking off in a westerly direction were expected to take off 1.5 km from end of runway, and then make a turn towards Herne Bay and Birchington, achieving altitude over the sea. That, however, did not always happen. Instead, the aircraft would fly directly over the villages. I think this should be: after take-off, 1.5km from end of runway, turn right to avoid HB & Birchington.
1.4. Routes required to be revised, in order to minimise flying over sensitive areas and maximise the proportion of landing process which occurred over the sea.
1.5. The possibility of planes turning closer to the Airport when landing, than was currently the case, should be investigated. See LINK.
1.6. Planes taking off in a westerly direction were known to turn left, instead of right.
1.7. Originally, flight routes were not over the villages.
1.8. There was need for a second radar, thereby enabling the capability to monitor whether or not aircraft were on track.
1.9. It was explained by the Director of Regeneration that the noise abatement routes prescribed in the S.106 Agreement are adhered to by Infratil. Routes prepared by the previous Airport Owner had never been formally adopted and given legal standing. TDC failed to include them in the S106.
1.10. Recognised routes for aircraft movements were generally felt to be a good thing.


2. Noise factors and overflying
2.1. Low flights over Ramsgate were noisy and intrusive, even during the day. Funeral ceremonies had been known to come to a standstill because of overhead noise from aircraft.
2.2. Infratil should be requested obliged to provide a list of its noise mitigation measures;
2.3. The old “747”s, which were used to carry freight, were particularly noisy; True.
2.4. Owing to a large proportion of flights being freight, Manston Airport was much noisier than other airports; True.
2.5. In some cases, take-offs did not appear to be steep enough. Consequently, overflying of area was longer than necessary; True.
2.6. The public perception at Canterbury (where noise monitoring of aircraft was non-existent) was that planes were often flying very low; True.
2.7. It could be beneficial to carry out a Survey in order to gauge opinions of residents, particularly those most affected by noise from aircraft. I honestly don’t think a survey is necessary, other than to establish the scale of annoyance and anger.
2.8. The majority of noise complaints concerned overflying, particularly over the villages. Inevitably, given that they’re nearest, but HB and Ramsgate cop it too.

3. Noise Monitoring
3.1. Monitoring of noise could not be effective unless planes adhered to proper routes. On occasions, take off point was out of monitoring range;
3.2. MUCH More use should be made of the mobile noise monitoring equipment that had been purchased by the Council. A headmaster of one of the schools under a flight path had welcomed the positioning of monitoring equipment on the roof of the school. I suggest hospices, rest and care homes, hospitals and schools should all have noise monitoring at some point.
3.3. Without effective monitoring, noise levels could not be understood; No. We all understand noise. Without effective monitoring, Infratil can downplay noise pollution.

4. Runway rotation
4.1. A proper discussion needed to take place on balancing number of take offs to the west (potentially, affecting the villages) and those to the east, affecting Ramsgate;
4.2. The direction of take-off was dependent on wind direction, and although the current 70/30 West to East ratio could be flexed, it rarely fell below 50/50;
4.3. If stipulated times and routes were adhered to, runway rotation would not be a big issue. Exactly.

5. Penalties, controls and enforcement
5.1. Some enforcement mechanism needed to remain in place and be applied so that those who did not keep to prescribed routes would be aware of consequential penalties;
5.2. Steeper penalties should be imposed to reflect the unacceptability of landings well outside of prescribed hours; the existing escalating fines would be sufficient IF they were actually levied.
5.3. The Airport Operator needed to provide assurance that sanctions were in place and were effective in preventing recurrences of deviations from proper flight paths; Don’t want assurance; want evidence.
5.4. The community should have confidence that any criteria laid down would be adhered to;
5.5. The current system of cumulative penalties was felt to be appropriate;
5.6. Allotment of penalties to a community fund should be continued;
5.7. If stringent constraints were imposed on noise, poorly maintained aircraft would be excluded from the Airport.

6. Environmental Impact
6.1. It was necessary to draw up in detail measures that would minimise the environmental impact of the Airport and, at the same time, enable it to be operative effectively and safely;
6.2. The Council should keep abreast of EU environmental laws and also look at papers prepared by DOT (Department of Transport) regarding effects of noise disturbance at night; Too much to expect Infratil to take any responsibility for this.
6.3. The problem of CO2 emissions were exacerbated by prolonged overflying of the area.
6.4. (EU papers on air quality were passed at the meeting to the Chairman of the Working Party)

7. Night flying and shoulder periods
7.1. Night flying disturbed people’s sleep True.
7.2. The issue of night landing permits should be looked at. The Department of Transport had reported that 181 night permits had been issued since 2006 for cargo flights from outside of Europe;
7.3. If night time landing was taking place without a permit, reasons should be established; and arses kicked.
7.4. Night landings were, on occasions, caused by delays in departures of flights from Africa;
7.5. Take-off times from foreign destinations should be monitored;
7.6. Residents of Dover & Sandwich would be opposed to any relaxation of night-time flying;
7.7. In Acol, residents were generally comfortable about day-time noise, but found noise at night unacceptable;
7.8. In exceptional circumstances, non-scheduled night-time flying was permissible (for example, emergency, Government flights) I think everyone has always accepted this.
7.9. A proper framework should be put in place to prevent the “nibbling effect” whereby shoulder periods became increasingly relaxed over a period of time. We’re alreday being ‘nibbled’ by the influx of non-scheduled night flights.

8. Aborted night-time landings
8.1. Measures to penalise aborted landings, allegedly not confined to training exercises should be set in place and fully enforced.

9. Updating of S.106 Agreement
9.1. The Director of Regeneration, Brian White said that there are no proposals to amend the S.106 Agreement. He explained that a successor document would be attached to the next significant planning approval at the Airport. The Masterplan would set the scene for subsequent development. Hang on a minute, is this what he said? I thought S106 was tied to the usage of the facility, not specific planning applications. Can anyone give me chapter and verse on this?

10. Need for greater consultation
10.1. There was a fundamental problem with training flights in that some rules (e.g. time lapse between landing and subsequent take-off) had been removed without consultation with the local community; Disgracefully.
10.2. TDC & KIACC should be notified of any procedural changes; True.
10.3. Civil Aviation Notices were inadequately publicised or informative – the community required greater detail; True.
10.4. The introduction of changes without consultation had engendered a feeling of mistrust on the part of residents. True.

11. Complaints Handling
11.1. Complaints to Infratil regarding early morning freight flights had not appeared to have been taken seriously;
11.2. Infratil should be required to respond to complaints within a certain length of time, say, 20-30 days, just like complainants, who had to make their complaint within 15 days of time of incident;
11.3. The whole of complaints system needed to be reviewed – Infratil’s current system was unreliable; “Evasive” is my word of choice.
11.4. Infratil’s website was not always accessible;
11.5. There was a measure of duplication between complaints to Infratil and those to the Council. Brian White said that complaints made directly to the Council were received by the Council’s Environmental Health service;
11.6. It seemed desirable to have a shared website between Infratil and the Council for the purpose of capturing all complaints; If EITHER of them was adequate, it would be a leap forward.
11.7. The Chairman of the Airport Working Party, Councillor Harrison said that all the airports (with the exception of Bournemouth) which had been visited by the Working Party, dealt with complaints directly.

12. Social and economic benefits of night time flying
12.1. Job benefits as outlined in the Masterplan seemed unrealistically high; True.
12.2. The geography of the area did not lend itself to a significant enhancement of jobs; True.
12.3. In itself, an increase in night time operations would not impact on job creation; True.
12.4. The Council should provide an analysis of perceived benefits of night-time flying; No. Surely this is Infratil’s responsibility?
12.5. Without some night flights, the Airport might be unsustainable; No. The airport should operate more profitably within the existing S106.
12.6. The Council needed to be robust in challenging employment figures associated with night-time flying;
12.7. Increased air traffic could have “knock-on” benefits for tourism; How?
12.8. Residents would probably accept an occasional night-time flight if overall benefits of the Airport were obvious. Quantify ‘occasional’ and then ask them.
12.9. Emergency flights were always to be considered separately. True.

13. Support for expansion
13.1. Monkton Parish Council was supportive of the Airport and hoped for development and creation of jobs. The operation must, however, be well controlled;
13.2. Canterbury supported the airport expansion, but only in a way that did not impact harshly on the community;
13.3. The airport presently operated at a loss. It should be provided with adequate scope to function in a commercial world. The ‘scope’ is called the free market economy.

At this juncture, the Chairman of the Working Party drew the meeting to a conclusion, by re-iterating a statement that the Airport should be allowed to become a successful commercial venture, but not at any price.

The Chairman also stated that an opportunity would be given to the public to express their views as part of a consultation exercise, if and when an application was received by the Council in relation to night-time flying.


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  1. Ooh, well done. That's how I remembered it: badly managed.

  2. Now in any other walk of life, such a catastrophic catalogue of incompetence and failure would be rewarded with "You're fired". In Thanet it's rewarded with lavish 25,000 pay rises funded by the taxpayer. And they say Thanet has no money.