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Gale’s new opinion: part 3

This is the bit where Roger Gale displays his shocking ignorance of key elements of Infratil’s proposal, and has the cheek to call other people dishonest.


 I have consistently opposed a free-for-all night flying policy that has been espoused, in the past, by some of Thanet’s councillors of both major political persuasions. I do, however, believe that 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. To represent the maximum unit quota provided for in the application as “Seven night flights per night” is mischievous if not downright dishonest. Even local journalists living on the flight path need to recognise that the purpose of the unit quota is to limit and regulate night time noise. If, though, we deny the operators the operational flexibility needed to accommodate not only scheduled aircraft movements but also the unforeseen late take-offs from overseas destinations that, inevitably, affect arrival times then we shall drive Manston’s business across the Channel with the inevitable consequences.

“To represent the maximum unit quota provided for in the application as ‘Seven night flights per night’ is mischievous if not downright dishonest.” No it isn’t, you ignorant, insulting fool. That’s exactly what it says in the application. Have you actually read the application, Roger? It’s there in black and white, as plain as the nose on Pinocchio’s face.

Roger writes “… the purpose of the unit quota is to limit and regulate night time noise”… er, yes Roger, that’s the point – we all get that. There is NO LIMIT on the number of flights that Manston can schedule in the daytime, and they already have the “flexibility” that allows for late arrivals. The freight is going to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted because each of them is a better commercial proposition for the operators – you can’t buck the market, Roger.

Thanet Council has indicated very clearly that it will take no decisions until the outcome of the consultation is known. That is a correct and proper position. It is also entirely right that those of us with elected responsibility should do everything possible to both recognise the legitimate needs of a potentially valuable local business while at the same time seeking to mitigate any environmental impact upon residents and the countryside that may arise from those needs.

There are many people in Thanet and across east Kent who are getting the impression that TDC have already made their decision, and will cherry-pick and selectively (mis)represent the results to support it. Your last sentence reveals a fundamental error – your job is not about businesses, the environment, or the countryside. First and foremost, your job as an elected representative is to represent the wishes and interests of your electorate. Everything else follows.

If, however, a relatively few of East Kent’s residents are left with an open goal into which they may then kick “anti-airport” shots then we shall be doing the future of East Kent no favours at all. Those that want Manston (and, of course, the remaining RAF presence as well) to close have a clear duty to indicate what alternative future (Industrial development? Housing Estates?) they see for the land, what vision they have for the future of local transport infrastructure and how they intend to generate the employment opportunities that East Kent’s children and grandchildren will be looking for. Protest-power without social responsibility is no more of an acceptable or honest position that would be the free-for-all night aircraft movement policy that absolutely nobody is in fact proposing.

The “clear duty” that Roger seems happy to foist on anyone actually rests with the elected representatives – always has, always will. It is a cause for public shame that Thanet District Council have consistently failed to shoulder this duty, and have no “Plan B” of any description. Roger suggests a housing development (it’s a good brownfield site with decent transport links) or industrial development (small to middling workshops and light fabrication plants would create more jobs than one big factory). Others have already suggested a wider range of possibilities, but welcome to the debate, Roger.

Click here to email Roger Gale

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