I applied online to join the Why Not Manston? campaign. Their refusal is disappointing, but instructive:
Dear Mr Rose,
Last week we provisionally accepted you as a Supporter of our
campaign. However, in your covering note, you stated your complete
opposition to any Night Flights at the airport. After discussion in our
Committee, we have come to the conclusion that your firm opposition to
night flights and, indeed, your leadership of the No Night Flights
campaign, in practice puts you at odds with our aims.
In effect, your campaign is trying to rewrite the rules under which a
prospective airline at the airport would have to operate. An airline
supervisory body might have the powers to do this, and so might a
democratically elected local council. But a private individual with no
stake in the business, or any similar pressure group, cannot be allowed
to dictate the terms under which an airline could operate from Manston.
So I am afraid that we now have to withdraw your name as a Supporter. I am sure you will understand.
Nicholas Reed, Chairman, Why Not Manston?
I think it may be worth clarifying something – I’m not against
Manston. I’m not against people who are “pro-Manston”. I am, however,
against “Manston at any cost”. I would love to see a thriving economy in
east Kent based on high quality, sustainable jobs (as I stated in my
application to WNM?), and will support any venture that delivers those
I’m not yet convinced that Manston can deliver – the average salary
at Manston is less than the average salary across Thanet, and aviation
is a small margin business, prone to dramatic fluctuations as a result
of factors beyond its control, e.g oil prices. I’m also wary of
over-reliance on a single employer or even a single industry – a more
broadly based economy is inevitably more resilient.
While I remain agnostic about Manston’s ability to make a significant
positive contribution to the local economy, I am absolutely clear that
night flights would be damaging. Both the independent consultancy firms
hired by TDC came to the same conclusion. Night flights are a cost that
is not worth paying. I am against night flights, not against Manston.
That said, let’s have a look at Mr Reed’s comments.
I am not trying to rewrite the rules. I am trying to prevent the airport operators from rewriting the rules.
The “democratically elected local council” is not trying to rewrite
the rules. It was instrumental in writing those rules in the first
place, and in all fairness, it’s been pretty useless at holding the
airport operators to their side of the deal.
Even in my more grandiose moments, I don’t suffer from the delusion
that I can dictate much more than a shopping list. I’m certainly not in a
position to dictate anything to an airline or foreign-owned airport
operator, and it wouldn’t even matter if I owned shares in them.
As an individual, and as a member of a “pressure group”, I seek to
influence through explanation and representation, not dictation.
However, Why Not Manston? – which I am pretty sure qualifies as a pressure group, albeit a small one – is seeking to rewrite the rules under which a prospective airline could operate, by their explicit support for night flights.