Most of us naturally feel proud of Thanet’s long association with aviation. Some want to keep it alive through a revival of commercial aviation at Manston, and others see an airport as a source of much-needed jobs.
But before committing our future to aviation, we should think about what it would mean to us all if Manston became a commercially successful airport.
Certainly it would provide some jobs, but probably not a great many. But the jobs created by the airport and the businesses it might attract would come at a high cost to all Thanet residents, especially those living in Ramsgate.
Put very simply, experience and numerous studies show very clearly that living near a busy commercial airport is not good for anyone. High noise levels disturb people’s sleep, cause psychological problems and also raise their blood pressure, which leads to cardiac problems including heart attacks. Children are particularly vulnerable to poor sleep patterns and noise and this shows up as developmental problems and poor performance in school.
To be successful, an airport at Manston would have a lot of plane movements and these would almost certainly continue throughout the night. The impact of the noise on people living in Ramsgate would be horrible. It wouldn’t be too pleasant for people living in Broadstairs or Herne Bay either. We shouldn’t forget that a lot of people complained about the noise when commercial aircraft were operating from Manston, even though there were very few flights. Ramsgate residents attended packed out meetings at Chatham House School to complain about the way the airport was ruining their lives.
But there is a less obvious danger that affects all of us. Intensive commercial aviation means serious air pollution. Jet fuel contains very nasty substances that can cause serious illnesses including cancers. The closer you are to the airport, the greater the damage, so once again it is people living in Ramsgate that suffer most. But the prevailing South Westerly winds in this area will ensure that nearly everyone gets their share of toxic fallout.
When an airport is successful, other businesses in the area fail. Constant arrivals and departures will kill Ramsgate’s growing tourist industry. Who wants to visit a town to sit under a stream of low flying aircraft, however lovely the view?
Finally, although flying is extremely safe, accidents do happen and the take off and landing are the most critical stages of any flight. A runway that takes low flying planes over schools and areas of dense housing is just not a good idea.
UKIP talks about its victory in the local council elections as providing an overwhelming mandate for taking the steps necessary to try to return commercial aviation to Manston.
But much of UKIP’s support comes from Ramsgate wards that will be most seriously affected by such a move, so this seems unlikely. Many Thanet residents have cared little for the antics of previous Labour and Conservative councils and were happy to grasp at the opportunity for change. But people in Ramsgate are not daft. We didn’t vote to ruin our lives, our health and our lovely town any more than turkeys would vote for Christmas.
From one of our readers in Thanet