Manston airport will reveal how many planes it wants to fly at night before a survey is taken of residents’ views. The airport’s new chief executive Charles Buchanan told the Isle of Thanet Gazette this week he will tell Thanet council the number of “night flight quota points” the airport wants within the next three weeks. The council will then, in September, run a public consultation on the issue and the airport’s future.
Mr Buchanan, who took over the running of the airport two weeks ago, said:
“The consultation needs the figure and we are going to be providing it. There would be no point in carrying out a meaningless consultation without the number and only have to consult again at a later date. It is in everybody’s interests that we come forward with the figure, and we will be.”
Last February the airport’s owner Infratil applied to extend the time it takes the bulk of its flights by an extra hour in the morning, to after 6am, and an extra half hour in the evening, to before 11.30pm. It has also applied to increase the number of planes it is allowed to land and have take-off between those hours. More than a year later, Thanet council is still waiting for some details of the application and the delay has caused some anger among councillors. At a meeting of the council’s Airport Working Party on Monday, chairman Mike Harrison said:
“They have treated the people of Thanet with contempt over the last 12 months. We have had to wait and see if something is going to start. I hope now finally something is going to happen.”
He warned that if the airport was not forthcoming with the figure, the council could reject the application altogether. A new radar mast is needed at Manston airport because of the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm. The airport has applied to build a new radar tower on its site that is not affected by the background radar noise created by the wind farm’s 100 turbines. Mr Buchanan said:
“It’s a slightly different radar system that can block out the disruption caused by the turbines and pick out an aircraft.”
Experts from the RAF have expressed fears that too many wind farms in the English Channel could create security risks to the UK by allowing foreign aircraft to fly to our shores undetected.