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Although supportive of Manston Airport, Thanet District Council agreed at Full Council last night (24th May) that it could not support the introduction of the airport's proposed scheduled night-time flying. Councillors were considering the council's consultation response to proposals submitted by airport owners Infratil to introduce night flying operations between 23:00 hours and 07:00 hours.

Night Flights vote – political views

   


Labour:

Although supportive of Manston Airport, Thanet District Council agreed at Full Council last night (24th May) that it could not support the introduction of the airport’s proposed scheduled night-time flying. Councillors were considering the council’s consultation response to proposals submitted by airport owners Infratil to introduce night flying operations between 23:00 hours and 07:00 hours.

Concerns over the potential noise and environmental impacts, as well as strong public feeling against the proposals, meant the majority of Councillors did not support the airport’s consultation proposals, submitted to the council in October 2011.

As well as underestimating the potential negative impact, members also felt that expert advice provided by Parsons Brinckerhoff in an independent report, questioned the potential economic benefits.

Members took three votes on recommendations from Cabinet following their meeting on Thursday 10 May. All three recommendations, as detailed below, were approved:

  1. That subject to any further comments that Council may wish to make, Council agrees the consultation response to Manston airport’s night time flying policy as set out at Annex 1 of the report.
  2. That Council confirms that Thanet District Council fully supports the day-time operation of Manston Airport but further recommends that as a Consultee, the Council cannot support the introduction of scheduled night-time flying operations between 23:00 hours and 07:00 hours for the following reasons:
    • a) The council’s consultation shows 73% of respondents are opposed to night-time flying;
    • b) Noise and environmental impacts are underestimated;
    • c) The number of jobs generated and the economic benefits may be overestimated;
    • d) The probable detrimental impact of night-time flying on Thanet’s recovering Tourism Industry;
    • e) Concerns raised in the World Health Organisation’s assessment of the impacts of disturbed sleep;
    • f) There is concern that the night-time flying proposals have not considered Article 8 of the Human Rights Act;
    • g) The Airport would need to address whether the proposed night-time flying policy constitutes a ‘plan or project’ for the purposes of the Habitats Regulations and then follow the further requirements of those regulations as relevant.
  3. That Council authorises the Director of Community Services in consultation with the Leader of the Council to provide final written comments to Manston Airport incorporating any amendments considered necessary.

Leader of Thanet District council, Cllr. Clive Hart, said:

Last night’s decision follows months of careful consideration. After listening to the concerns of local people across Thanet, and taking expert advice on the proposals, we were clear that our response to Manston could not support night-time flying. As a council we do support the airport and recognise their position as a key local business in the area, however this can’t be at any environmental cost.”

The council’s consultation response will now be submitted direct to Manston Airport.


Conservative:

At last week’s Council meeting, the Conservatives emerged as the only party willing to give Manston airport the operating flexibility it needs to develop and provide much needed employment for local people.
Labour, the real Independents and TIG all rejected a Conservative amendment which stated: ‘Thanet District Council fully supports the airport and recognises that it needs some flexibility in its night-time flying policy in order to realise its full potential and deliver the jobs that Thanet desperately needs.’
Clive Hart’s ‘socialists’ made it clear that job opportunities were a reasonable sacrifice for votes in Ramsgate, to keep them in power. TIG’s Cllr Ian Driver went even further and stated that he would welcome the closure of the airport now.
Labours proposal to put a total curfew on the airport’s operating hours from 11pm to 7am will seriously harm Manston’s prospects of becoming a thriving business capable of supporting up to 3000 new jobs. Thanet’s residents are left to envy the success of Southend Airport which, with full local council support, has, in just three years, become a major employer in the area. Labour claim that their recent survey of public opinion on ‘night-time’ flying supports their stance but it is clear that the methodology employed  was skewed in favour of motivated responders in the ‘no night flights’ camp.
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Bob Bayford said:
“We are not in favour of a ‘free for all’ at Manston throughout the night – that would clearly be unacceptable.  However, Labour’s iron fist policy will kill Manston and its potential to offer real jobs to people in Thanet.  Yet again, Thanet’s Labour administration has proved it will pander to a vocal minority when it can keep them in power.”

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