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Ramsgate and Herne Bay – the sacrificial lambs

Many residents are still blissfully unaware that Ramsgate and Herne Bay are facing an environmental catastrophe.

When Manston airport was closed, an aggressive campaign group was set up to try to get it reopened. Most of the people running this campaign live in areas which are not affected by aircraft noise. The campaign group has been backed by prominent local politicians including Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet and Iris Johnston, Leader of Thanet District Council. None of these live in areas affected by aircraft noise.

The only way the airport can be reopened is by purchasing it from its new owners. The owners don’t want to sell, so the campaign group has been pressing Thanet District Council to use its compulsory purchase powers to buy the site of the former airport.

Thanet District Council can’t afford to do this. The campaign group has backed a U.S. real estate company called Riveroak which says that it will fund the compulsory purchase. However, when Thanet District Council performed a due diligence exercise on the proposal, they could not conclude that there was no financial risk to the council. Riveroak was rejected.

The campaign group did not accept this decision. They were able to persuade the Department for Transport to commission a study to determine whether Thanet District Council made a correct decision. The accounting company Price Waterhouse Cooper is doing this study and will report back to the minister in May.

If the Department for Transport is convinced that there is no financial risk to the council they may recommend that Thanet District Council compulsory purchases the airport on behalf of the U.S. company, Riveroak. Conservative and UKIP councillors have stated on record that, if they are running the council, they will proceed with the CPO, regardless of the advice they receive from council officers.

You may be wondering what Riveroak will do with it if it is reopened. As a real estate company they have no experience of running airports. Nevertheless, they have produced a plan outlining what they intend to do.

Riveroak do not intend to introduce passenger flights. Those who might be hoping for cheap flights to sunny climes need to forget this, because it isn’t on the cards.

Riveroak intends to create a freight depot. Freight planes will land and take off from Manston. Riveroak says that it will not need night flights. This is not credible. Freight needs the freedom to operate 24/7. If they are allowed to create a freight depot it will inevitably require permission to operate around the clock.

Last year, at a public meeting at the Marlowe Academy, one of the parliamentary candidates was present and said that the restriction on night flights would need to be looked at again. He got a standing ovation. They will give local people assurances that they don’t need night flights. As soon as they are operational they will say that night flights are essential.

The issue of reopening the airport is inextricably linked to the issue of night flights. If the airport is reopened, night flights will be introduced. The campaigners do not dispute that night flights will cause noise. They don’t care. One campaigner described Ramsgate as “A sacrifice worth making.

Now, it’s up to you to have your say. Do you want unrestricted night flights? Do you believe that Ramsgate or Herne Bay should be sacrificed for the greater good of East Kent? Or do you think that the new owners should be allowed to pursue their plans to create a new business park catering for high tech manufacturing companies? They have estimated that 4,000 jobs could be created, and they already have 500 jobs in the pipeline.

Make sure the election candidates know what you think and, before you put a cross in the box, make sure you know what they are going to do if you elect them.

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9 comments

  1. I would rather a business park creating jobs than cargo planes flying over my back garden at 1200 feet following the shore line to which I am adjacent to. Susie Gale once said in an email that we are NIMBYs and should have known about the airport. I have been coming to Herne Bay for the past forty years and have lived on Studd Hill for the past twelve and only up until the past few years with the failure of cheap flights and Cargolux has there been this problem. It is easy to call us NIMBYs if you don’t live under the flight path. What I can’t get my head around is that after other companies failed why campaign groups and local MPs still bang on about keeping Manston open as an airport. I would rather see a Alton towers type theme park to attract tourism and create jobs. This thing with Manston has gone on too long.

    • Laurie Hudson

      Is there a petition against Manston CPO?

      It looks like the duly elected counsellors may waste a lot of money perusing the CPO. Tax payers need to indicate if they are against this action.

      Just because it was on their manifesto, does not mean we all agree with this action.

      Put it to a vote first! There is a pro CPO online petition so this needs the balance of an anti CPO petition. I’d happily sign the later as I’d like 4000 jobs, more housing and long term investment to benefit all instead of the few.

  2. Claudia Dart

    It’s not just the noise. Cargo planes are often less well maintained – and considerably older – than passenger planes. That’s why they create more engine noise.

    There have been accidents with cargo planes landing and taking off at Manston, which is not surprising as planes are at their most vulnerable during landing and take off. There are many schools along the flight path and this is essentially an accident waiting to happen.

    Don’t vote for parties who are willing to turn a blind eye to the risk to our children.

  3. Herne Bay hopeful

    Since Manston airport has been closed we have enjoyed a good night’s sleep in Herne Bay (we are also under the flight path) uninterrupted by the dreadful noise of cargo planes during the night. Heaven forbid that they should ever return. These political candidates are only supporting re-opening the airport to get elected. Some of them, including the PM, don’t seem to realise how long it has actually been closed and de-commissioned! Shame on them all. Riveroak have a very poor record of success in any field and their bid for a CPO must surely be rejected at every level, and the plans of the new owners given the support and encouragement they deserve. As Rick Wright says, this matter of Manston’s future has been going on far too long and it needs to be settled once and for all – and quickly!

  4. Thank you for a calm, rational explanation of the Manston issue. I think this should appear in every local paper – letters page? OK, I do live right under the flight path – and when aircraft pass over my house I cannot hear the radio or TV. But there are thousands more in my position and, if Manston can only survive through night flights, the environment of Herne Bay and Ramsgate would suffer, and the area incur huge economic losses – and for how many jobs?

  5. We were very pleased to learn that at last two new plans for the manston site have been released by the owners. Both ideas seem quite acceptable and we can hope that either will go ahead. Perhaps the public will realise that these plans will offer less noise. less pollution for both Ramsgate and Herne Bay plus far more jobs than could ever be expected from the airport. Good luck to the owners.

  6. At last some real proposals for Manston Airport.
    Like many others, I do feel nostalgic about the closure and would love to have been able to fly to holiday destinations from near my home instead of battling with the M25 or the A11 but in reality the two previous operators couldn’t make it work.

    I do feel that it would be great if there were to be some avionic business production on the site and why couldn’t the private flying facility return. We should be made aware just what businesses the present owners envisage on the site, this area desperately needs job opportunities for our young people who are being encouraged to achieve greater exam achievements only to finish college with little or no chance to find work or apprenticeships locally.

    What we don’t need is a massive housing scheme without the employment infrastructure to support it or for Thanet to continue to be used as ‘overspill cheap housing for London boroughs’ as it has been on a smaller scale for years.

  7. Kent Resident

    There are plans out which are shown on another of these blogs. Unfortunately the biased local press is not so keen to print this good news.
    There is one company that wants to build a film studio, open arena and college campus for students who want to get into the business but I didn’t see it in the two options given. We need something like this for the young and School leavers looking for a career to take. Obviously, Thanet needs something grand too that will bring people and tourists to the area as without it we are quite a bit out of the way for most.
    The initial plans look great though and the SMA scaremongering of it being covered in homes for Londoners is thrown back in their faces. A very small area is set aside for houses or accomodation but most is to become green land.
    I think enough is enough of sitting around waiting for the few protesters to think of their next move to stop progress. The owners should get into putting their plans into action now.
    Forget about Gales PWC report, it is bound not to be independent considering the leaks coming out by Gale before it has been published ! Forget about the RO group of failed business men who don’t want you to know that they really want to cover the whole area in housing after a short initial failed stint at playing with aviation there. If they ever got hold of the freehold our Council would be held to ransom by the group in what they want to build there. No, we should keep it British and take the clean option with thousands of jobs being created. Now let’s get on with it !