In the interests of spreading our love and help far and wide we (Mrs Earplugs and I) met up with some of the Canterbury people who will be dealing with Thanet District Council over the next few months while Infratil’s Masterplan is being goggled at.
It turned out to be a useful and encouraging way to spend a morning. There was a big cheese from CCC’s Environmental Health bods, the top banana from their Regeneration department, and Cllr Mike Patterson, who is on the KIACC. (I couldn’t help wondering: if you snip bits off people from Regeneration, do they simply re-grow, like starfish? If so, it offers an easy way to ramp up the staffing levels.)
The plan was to provide them with enough armour, ammunition, sticks and carrots for them to be able to nudge Thanet away from a worst-of-all-possible-worlds outcome. The mighty wodge of words, numbers and pictures we gave them can be summarised thus:
- The Draft Masterplan for KIA is indicative but insubstantial – it needs to be redrafted, and then put out to consultation properly.
- The Section 106 Agreement should reflect the needs of everyone affected by the operation of the airport, not just Infratil and TDC.
- There is absolutely no need or justification for night flights (other than emergency diversions).
- Flight paths should avoid population centres by overflying the sea, or sparsely populated land.
- If overflying towns is unavoidable, the planes could fly higher for longer, and then descend more steeply.
- These ‘people-friendly’ routes should be agreed and implemented before flight volumes increase.
- Infratil must demonstrate that the routes are being adhered to by recording and reporting what the planes actually do.
- Infratil must install adequate noise and pollution monitoring equipment.
- The noise monitoring equipment must be used consistently.
- The readings from all the monitoring equipment must be recorded consistently.
- The recorded readings must be published frequently and regularly (e.g. on-line).
- Failure to comply with the S106 agreement must be reported and fined. Any decisions not to fine must be explained.
As you can see, all good reasonable stuff, and they seemed to buy into it. In all fairness, we all know that Canterbury are no more than consultees in this process, and have no effective Vulcan death-grip that they could apply, other than possibly dragging everything through the courts. In that respect they are about as powerless as a Thanet resident. Nonetheless, they are prepared to listen politely, pay attention and take notes – which puts them in my good books. It remains to be seen how much they can influence Thanet, but I shall keep fuelling them.