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YES WE CAN: sleep

Absolutely no night flights. Not scheduled flights. Not chartered flights. No night flights. Diversions from other airports (due to emergencies, bad weather and so on), humanitarian missions or national crisis are fine. Obviously. But otherwise… Absolutely no night flights.

I hope that’s clear.

A plane coming in to land makes a LOT of noise. At night, when everything else is that much quieter, the sound stands out against the reduced background noise, so seems louder, and is more disruptive. This much is self-evident.

Even modern planes are noisy, and even when they’re relatively high up. An enquiry at Stansted in 2007 took evidence of noise complaints that came from a roughly rectangular area 35 miles by 60 miles around the airport. The sound footprint of each aircraft is large; the combined impact of all an airport’s traffic taken together is huge.

The noise itself is stressful, as is the loss of sleep – a 10 decibel increase of noise at night raises the risk of hypertension by 14%. On health grounds for all those within earshot, night flights are a non-starter. From the point of view of quality of life, ditto.

Economics: the aviation group of the Local Government Association reports that “no evidence has been produced by the Government or the aviation industry to justify claims that night flights have an overall economic benefit”. That sentence is worth re-reading out loud and thinking about carefully. The LGA, which covers the whole country, but concentrates on local interests and priorities has a ‘Strategic Aviation Special Interest Group’. They’ve done their homework, they’ve done their sums, and they’ve come to the conclusion that night flights don’t make economic sense.

Matt Clarke (Infratil’s Chief Exec) has said that Manston is operating at a fraction of its capacity. Surely there can be no need for them to operate night flights. As there’s plenty of available daytime capacity, that should be used up first.

Night flights: unhealthy, uneconomic, unwanted and unnecessary.

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  1. Juliette Stockbridge


  2. And night flights are not included in the noise contours widely used by airports. They are measured on a 92day summer DAYTIME period. All that noise in the dead of the night, if included, would as you rightly point out make that noise travel and the contours larger. Can't have that……..

  3. You need to understand that Thanet District Council has already sold you down the river on this one. For that matter, Canterbury City Council has sold you down the river too, because they were consuslted about it and they didn't raise the approriate objections (even though they were told what the problem was). When Manston was sold into private ownership a legal agreement was in place that forbade any night flights from or to the airport. Thanet District Council abandoned this agreement in favour of a much watered down version which allowed significant (unlimited) night flights. The agreement is called the Section 106 agreement and it is about as much use as a chocolate tea-pot.The new agreement only restricts scheduled night-flights from taking place. There can be as many charter flights as you like (or don't). The restrictions on scheduled flights only apply to the noisiest categories of aircraft. When I say the noisiest, I really mean the noisiest. Jumbo jets are free to land and take-off at night without penalty. To cap it all the agreement is pretty much unenforceable. The only way TDC could do anything to enforce it would be to get a court-order shutting the airport down. Councillors are so smitten with the airport that they would never do such a thing.So, before you complain about the noise at night ask what your elected representatives (and the unelected officers) did to prevent it. I think you'll find they're all in this together.

  4. Sadly, Anon 7.48 is absolutely right about what the S106 allows Manston to do. Naively (I'm so trusting) I thought that no night flights meant no night flights…until Infratil told me that no night flights actually means no SCHEDULED night flights. Doh! Obvious, innit?!As for our beloved repsresentatives, here's the situation as I understand it. Herne Bay councillors have woken up to the isssue, have concerns about the impact of low flying planes on the town, and would like to see a fuller and more balanced debate about the airport. What the rest of Canterbury's councillors think, I don't yet know. As for Canterbury's officers, the flavour I'm getting is that they've tired of being consulted after the decision has been taken by Thanet and want to start to influence the situation a little more. Of course, with Thanet in lurve with Manston, the chances of Canterbury having much impact are low. So, what do they do then? Grit their teeth and put up with it? Go to Dad in the shape of Paul Carter at KCC who wants Manston to have his babies (or at least to be his wildly enticing mistress)? How do you get a body of councillors and officers to see that there is a better way? Ideas welcome.

  5. Anon 7:48 – I have been sold so far down the river I've got to be out to sea by now. One of the root causes (and a recurring theme which I will bang on about until I burst in an apoplectic rage) is that the majority of our representatives, and particularly the effective executive, have lost sight of the fact that they are servants in a democracy.Canterbury did raise objections in 2005, but there was no follow through. It smacks to me of wanting to be seen to be going through the motions. As DappleGrey points out, Canterbury are getting irked at being bounced by Thanet, so they may be keener to pursue the objections they have raised this time.I'm surprised by your comments regarding the unenforceability of the S106. As a bilateral binding contract, surely there is some kind of legal recourse short of going nuclear?

  6. Most Thanet Councillors have slim majorities.A few hundred in most cases.We have time to stand against, make them see sense or just encourage tactical voting.