A crunch vote on night flights will take place this month as Thanet council prepares to give its final views. Councillors have to choose whether to support plans for up to eight flights a night between 11pm and 7am.
Last week, the Labour cabinet was accused of being “anti-airport” when it agreed that, in response to the airport’s consultation, it would not support night flights.
Former cabinet member for finance, Martin Wise, heckled council leader Clive Hart three times as he read out the council’s draft response based on its own consultation. After the meeting, Mr Wise said:
“Following this sham consultation, it is clear the Labour group is totally against night flights and the airport, which needs to secure business for it to grow. The consultation has only attracted comments from those against the airport but it should have considered everybody. There is high unemployment in Thanet and people need jobs the airport will create.”
Addressing the chamber, Mr Hart said the council consultation had shown 73 per cent of responses were against night-time flying while 26 per cent were in favour. One per cent did not express a clear opinion either way. He said:
“This clearly demonstrates that a large number of residents, and particularly those living under the flight path, were against the introduction of night-time flying.”
He went on to say that the council-commissioned Parsons Brinckerhoff report found that noise thresholds suggested by the airport’s owners Infratil were likely to understate the actual noise impact on residents. He also included amendments to the original draft from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee drawing attention to World Health Organisation’s assessment of the impacts of disturbed sleep, the effect of night flights on the tourism industry and Section 8 of the Human Rights Act.
Director of Manston airport Charles Buchanan said:
“The text of the response is fundamentally the same. It doesn’t recognise the significant element of the Parsons-Brinckerhoff report which says a ban on night time flying would almost certainly prohibit a large number of potential carriers. A total ban on night flights sends the wrong message to business. We have proposed limits and a mitigation programme which the Parsons-Brinckerhoff report says goes further than that required by current Government guidance.”
The council will vote on whether to support proposals for night flights at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, May 24th.
thisiskent 15th May 2012