Manston airport sale “a chance to introduce proper planning”
News that Manston airport is up for sale is confirmation that the local infrastructure is not sufficient to sustain an airport, according to one of the most respected campaign group in the country.
Manston’s New Zealand owner, lnfratil, announced it was selling the site because it wanted to “refocus its investment profile” and concentrate on retail, production and supplying gas and electricity. The move puts 123 jobs at risk.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England says the sale is an ideal chance for Thanet council to put into force planning regulations protecting the interests of residents, particularly in the issue of night flights, which lnfratil wanted to introduce amid fierce local opposition. A CPRE spokesman said:
“Of course we are saddened to think that existing jobs at Manston might be put at risk, but it confirms our long-standing concerns that Manston has been unable to become a commercial success for many reasons, not least its lack of infrastructure. Manston airport has consistently struggled to attract passengers and airline operators despite the massive amount of investment into it.
If a fresh start means new operators are able to breathe new life into Manston, we sincerely hope Thanet District Council will take this as an opportunity to bring the operation under the proper control of a robust planning agreement to protect the interests of all of Thanet’s residents. The prospect of intensification of night flights, while Manston airport has been unable to exploit its daytime capacity, has hung over the county for far too long.”
Malcolm Kirkaldie was a member of the former watchdog Manston Airport Group. He said:
“The former owners of the airport never fully addressed local complaints or issues. Developers who come into Thanet need to be accountable to the local community and put something back.”
kentnews.co.uk 19th Mar 2012