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I have never supported night flights from Manston and do not propose to do so.

Gale’s new opinion: part 1

East Kent is still reeling, caught in the giddying vortex of Roger Gale’s about turn. “I have never supported night flights from Manston and do not propose to do so.” But that was ten days before the May 2010 general election, when he would say anything to anyone to trick a vote out of them.

Now that the election is over, and Roger has been made to feel important and powerful by a charm offensive from Infratil, his tune has changed. Whole sections of his recent article in the local press could have been lifted from an Infratil brochure. The talk is no longer of “flights” but of “flexibility” (a weasel word cynically put into Roger’s mouth by Infratil’s spin doctors). For example “… the proposals now on the table represent a fair consideration of the airport’s likely maximum night time flexibility through to 2018 and very possibly beyond.”

So let’s have a closer look at the Mr Flip-flop’s words…

East Kent will, very shortly, have the opportunity to indicate clearly whether we want the airport at Manston, and the jobs and transport links that are dependent upon it, to have the opportunity to grow and prosper or to close.

Oooh, Roger, just a teensy bit one-sided, don’t you think? No mention of East Kent deciding whether it wants the noise, sleeplessness, ill-health, early deaths, dirt, fumes, extra lorry traffic, lower educational achievement, falling house prices and collapsing tourist trade that the huge increase in night freight will inevitably bring.

We need, I think, to be very clear that the consultation relating to night time aircraft movements, due to be independently carried out for Thanet District Council in response to an application by the airport operators, Infratil, will affect the whole future of aviation at Manston and, very possibly, in the South East.

Yes, Roger, of course the consultation about night flights at Manston could affect the future of Manston – that’s the point of it. Well, most of us probably assumed that what we say in the consultation will have some kind of impact, but Cllr Bayford has poured cold water on that. If the majority of us say “No” to night flights… it might make no difference.

Ask local people if they want to be able to fly to sunshine holiday destinations direct from Manston and the answer is an emphatic “yes”.  Ask the same people if they want to see more freight flights from the same airport and the response is, not surprisingly, very much more restrained.  We subscribe to development that benefits us personally and we are lukewarm about development, whether it be business, retail or even housing, that impacts adversely upon our lives.

To paraphrase: “People like nice things and don’t like nasty things.” I think we can all go along with that one, Roger. It’s completely normal – why comment on it? Do you think it’s in some way wrong to oppose, to speak out against, or even campaign against something that will “adversely affect” your life, and the lives of your nearest and dearest? What we’re being offered is a force-fed diet of nasty things (night flights, forever) with only the vaguest, sometime, sort-of promise of ‘jam tomorrow’ somewhere in the hazy future, in the form of nice holiday flights.


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