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Night Flights vote – press coverage

Vote against Manston Airport night flights plan

BBC 25th May 2012

Plans for night flights from Manston Airport in Kent have been opposed by Thanet District Council. At a meeting on Thursday, the Labour-controlled council voted against all night flights to or from the airport. Charles Buchanan, the airport’s chief executive, said:

“We are disappointed the council is not supporting the airport as much as it could.”

In March, owners Infratil announced plans to sell Manston and Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport. Mr Buchanan said the airport wanted to run “a small number” of scheduled night flights. He said the owners had received legal advice that two flights per night, on average, did not constitute “an increase in activity over and above that which is already permitted”, and they could go ahead without needing extra planning permission. Mr Buchanan said a number of companies were interested in taking up the opportunity.

“They would also bring the rest of their daytime schedule to the airport as well. Without that they’ll go to airports where they have that flexibility.”

Council research showed that 73% of some 2,000 residents questioned were against the proposal, citing potential noise levels and disturbance to sleep as their primary reasons for objecting. The airport currently deals with passenger and commercial aircraft with a runway capable of taking Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s. Its refurbished terminal is capable of handling up to 700,000 passengers a year.


Thanet Council says “no” to night flights

Thanet Gazette 25th May 2012

MANSTON airport’s plans to run as many as eight flights a night failed to get the support of Thanet District Council last night after a final crunch vote. Opinions divided along party lines at the extraordinary council meeting as the Labour administration motioned a rejection of the airport’s proposals.

Council leader Clive Hart said the council’s consultation response was based on the results of an independent review of the airport’s proposals and the council’s own consultation with residents. Conservatives argued that a vote against night flights was a vote against jobs for the area. Conservative group leader Bob Bayford said that a ban on all aircraft movements between 11pm and 7am was a “straight jacket” for the airport:

“At best it will delay the development of the airport, a worst it will kill the airport.”

Mr Bayford added that it was “dangerous” for the council to base its response on a “seriously flawed” in-house consultation in which 73 percent of respondents opposed night time flying. Laughter came from the packed public gallery when Mr Bayford pointed out the Manston Airport’s own consultation of residents showed 79 per cent being in support of night flights.

Mr Hart defended the in-house consultation saying it had the greatest response of any to date:

“The results have been extremely conclusive and it wasn’t at all close.”

The response stated the council’s support of the day-time operation of Manston airport but said the council would not support night-time flying on the basis of its own consultation and the council-commissioned Parsons-Brinckerhoff report. Listing the objections, the report said the noise and environmental impacts had been underestimated by airport, the economic benefits of night flights were overestimated and that the impact on Thanet’s tourism would be detrimental.

It also pointed to concerns raised in the World Health Organisation’s assessment of the impacts of disturbed sleep and added that the night flight proposals had not considered Article 8 of the Human rights Act- the right to respect for private and family life.

The motion to adopt the response was won after Labour got the support of the council’s two independent groups. The Conservatives voted unanimously not to support the response but were out-numbered. Phil Rose of the No Night Flights campaign and Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston Airport, watched the meeting from the public gallery. Mr Rose said:

“It is a good result and I am very, very pleased that the council came out following the recommendations of the independent reports. They have listened to the views of the people.”

Mr Buchanan said the airport will take the vote into consideration and formulate its response:

“All we have ever asked for a limited number of night flights with mitigation measures. The result is disappointing but entirely predictable.”

The council’s response will not be binding as the council is only a consultee in Manston’s own consultation of its night-time flying policy. A separate residents’ petition against night flights, presented to the council last week, was also noted. It had collected 2682 signatures but only 777 were valid as the others did not include an address.


Manston chiefs attack council over night flight decision

kentnews May 25, 2012

Manston Airport chiefs say they are “very disappointed” after Thanet District Council last night voted to oppose night flights from the Thanet airfield. As part of the consultation process, the council saw a heated debate over its position. The Conservatives on the council were open to the suggestion, while the ruling Labour group were opposed.

Speaking this morning, chief executive of Manston, Charles Buchanan, said:

We are clearly very disappointed by this stance as it is completely inconsistent with the council’s stated policy to support the airport’s success as a creator of thousands of much needed jobs. The position the council adopted last night is also in sharp contrast to its leader Clive Hart’s stated assertion of ‘the council’s recognition of Manston Airport as an economic asset to Thanet’.

The council’s response contradicts the conclusions of the report from its own consultant Parson Brinckerhoff, which identifies that a ban on night time flying, in relation to passenger services, would: ‘almost certainly prohibit a large number of potential carriers’. Its consultant also recognises that with respect to freight operations, the absence of night flights ‘would undoubtedly hinder the ability of Manston to attract either regular flights or a based operator’.

It is this ability to attract passenger and freight services that will fundamentally determine whether the airport is an economic asset for Thanet, as well as providing the travel advantages for local people using their local airport. Importantly, the council which has sought to question Manston’s own economic impact report, has once again contradicted the conclusions of its consultants own report into the impact of the airport, which stated that: ‘…we are satisfied with the approach and values used for the economic assessment’.

Given that Parson Brinckerhoff acknowledges that they themselves only have ‘some relatively minor queries’, we are very surprised that the council has adopted such a negative approach towards the airport and its economic impact assessment. We will now obviously consider the council’s response before providing them, as a consultee on night-flights, with a reasoned reply in due course.


Manston night flights formally opposed by Thanet District Council

kentonline May 25 2012

Plans for night flights at Manston airport have suffered a big setback after councillors voted against the idea. Cabinet members of Thanet District Council had already said they would not support the bid by Kent International Airport. However, a full council meeting last night formally opposed the idea of night flights.

Manston wants some planes taking off and landing between 11pm and 7am. Scheduled night flights were suggested at the airport to help increase air capacity. But councillors decided the proposed scheduled flights would be too noisy and have too great an environmental impact. A consultation found three quarters of people living nearby also did not want night flights.

Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston Airport, said:

We are clearly very disappointed by this stance as it is completely inconsistent with the council’s stated policy to support the airport’s success as a creator of thousands of much needed jobs. The position the council adopted last night is also in sharp contrast to its leader Clive Hart’s stated assertion of ‘the council’s recognition of Manston Airport as an economic asset to Thanet’. Ironically at a time when the government is recognising the role that Manston could play a part in supporting the south east, by making use of existing under-utilised runway capacity, Thanet is apparently rejecting the opportunity to build its economy and create thousands of jobs.

The immediate conclusion is that despite the council’s stated support for the airport, the leadership has refused to recognise the operational flexibility that its own expert identifies as being necessary for that success. One can only guess why they have chosen such a course and put at risk one of the engines for the long term prosperity of Thanet. We will now obviously consider the council’s response before providing them, as a consultee on night-flights, with a reasoned reply in due course.


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