EAST KENT FRIENDS OF THE EARTH GROUP
Our Group is opposed to any night flights at Manston up to 4 flights per nights would only increase the adverse noise impact for local residents and people as far away as Herne Bay and Sandwich.
Kent International Airport has underestimated the potential noise impact as the consultant’s report clearly points out local residents are experiencing considerable noise now with day time flights they shouldn’t be expected to tolerate it at night also.
The Airport Master Plan claims that Manston could handle 2.29m passengers and 167.500 tonnes of freight by 2018 whilst creating up to 2000 new jobs. This figure is grossly over optimistic for such a short timescale we understand that Thanet has long-term economic difficulties and high unemployment but expanding flights at Manston is not a long term answer to these serious problems. Firstly how are Thanet and East Kent roads expected to cope with all the extra car journeys and lorry movements expansion at Manston would generate.
Also how can increasing flights be compatible with The Climate Change Act, The UK will have little chance of cutting C02 emissions be 80% by 2050 if Airport are allowed to keep increasing flights. Britain needs to reduce air travel especially internal flights. France has shown that expanding high speed rail is the way forward many more people there are choosing rail than internal flights. Our Group does support linking Manston to the rail network and a new Manston Parkway Station which would be served by South Eastern High Speed Services. We support any measures to improve public transport and cycling routes between Manston and the rest of Thanet and East Kent.
We hope Thanet District Council will consider the long term adverse environmental effects of allowing night flights and further expansion at Manston and will reject Kent International Airports plans.
I would like to register my objection to the proposed scheduled night flights proposal submitted by Infratil to Thanet District Council.
I am against this proposal for a number of reasons, which I would like to outline below.
Infratil claims that the night flight proposal they are putting forward will create thousands of jobs for the local community, indeed they are claiming that scheduled night flights are essential to meeting the massive expansion they are predicting in their Master Plan. It is worth noting that the original Master plan published in November 2009 had predicted that Manston would by 2011 be handling some 1 million passengers and 100,000 tonnes of cargo and deliver some 1,000 employees to the local community. The reality is a somewhat less impressive 25,000 passengers and 30,000 tonnes of cargo and 110 airport employees. These growth predictions were made in the full knowledge that no scheduled night flights were allowed under the section 106 agreement so the complete failure to reach anywhere near these predictions cannot be blamed on the lack of scheduled night flights.
Infratil has failed to address the real reasons behind this failure and instead seem to be looking to blame it on and use it to justify their submission for scheduled night flights. Indeed Infratil has only slightly revised its original Master Plan growth predictions for 2018 to 500,000 tonnes of cargo and 2,286,000 passengers and some 3,500 jobs created, a claim which TDC’s own independent review carried out by Parson Brinckerhoff states “In our opinion it is highly likely that the 2018 planning assumption used is significantly overstated”. Furthermore they concluded that “MIA would only be excluded from 9% of the scheduled freight market if the night flying ban were to remain”. It is hard therefore to concluded that the failure to date or the future success of the airport is related to scheduled night flights.
These inflated freight and passenger numbers are used as the basis of the thousands of jobs to be created claim but even here the figures do not add up. Infratil use a simplistic assumption of 1,000 jobs per 1 million passengers, a figure which goes against all other airport operators real life experiences and contradicts their recent admittance that if they doubled the amount of freight they handle, and increased the passengers from 30,000 a year to 750,000 a year, they would create just 23 new jobs. Whilst any jobs created are to be welcomed we must be told the true number of jobs an expansion of KIA would bring before we can asses them against the impact the expansion would have on the local community.
I am also concerned that nowhere in Infratil’s proposal or indeed in TDC’s own independent review are job losses caused by scheduled night flights evaluated. Many local people are employed in areas on which the impact of night flights is at best uncertain and at worse potentially devastating. Many businesses are reliant on tourism which could suffer greatly if scheduled night flights are allowed. Additionally, new people have been attracted to the area by its many unique attractions, the beautiful beaches, the faster rail link to London, the areas stock of fine period houses. These people have brought with them a boom in the refurbishment of property which has supported employment in local trades and lead directly to a regeneration of our town centres services such as restaurants, bars, museums.
This influx of investment is under threat of not only been strangled off but indeed reversed. Families will not be willing to subject themselves to the consistent noise scheduled night flights will bring and we risk losing not only the jobs their investment in the area supports but their jobs when they move away.
The proposals as submitted by Infratil take no account on the impact that scheduled night flights will have on the quality of life of our most vulnerable and valued citizens, our children. The proposal by Infratil only seems concerned with the number and noise level of aircraft movements between the hours of 23:30 and 06:30. Quite apart from the fact that Infratil wish to redefine the definition of night time to exclude the periods 23:00 – 23:30 and 06:30 – 07:00 it wishes to have no limits on either the number or noise levels of flights within these well recognised ‘shoulder periods’ or during the hours when our children are actually trying to sleep.
Indeed the 1.8 flights a night average which Infratil often quotes is far from the reality we or our children would experience. Infratil’s own estimates put an additional 6 aircraft movements of unlimited noise levels in the redefined night periods of 23:00 – 23:30 and 06:30 – 07:00 bringing the number of flights from 1.8 to 8 a night although in practice they would be unlimited in number. The situation grows only more disturbing when aircraft movements within the 07:00 – 23:00 period are included, although difficult to define numbers exactly as the proposal is for unlimited flights and noise during this period an estimate of only 2 – 3 aircraft movements an hour would lead to an additional 12 flights of unlimited noise levels, a total of approximately 20 flights a night our children must suffer through, a far cry from Infratil’s headline 1.8.
The impact of this level of disturbance on our children’s sleep cannot be overstated, it would be devastating. TDC’s independent review carried out by Parson Brinckerhoff concludes that “In relation to the proposed QC quota, the exclusion of the shoulder hours from the night time period is out of step with other airports” and that “the analysis of the noise impacts have, in our opinion, resulted in an underestimation of the potential adverse impacts on residents in the area”. The WHO has warned against the adverse health effects of exposure to noise levels greater than 40db and measured the damage to the cognitive development of children, specifically reading comprehension.
Living under a flight path not only damages your health it destroys the value of your main asset, your home. Many people have worked hard for decades to afford a home and in a single moment will see a sizeable reduction in its value. Estimates do vary but homes under flight paths have well documented reductions in their values and with every 10% reduction in value individual losses would measure in the tens of thousands of pounds, extrapolated over the thousands of homes affected this would add up to tens of millions of value destroyed.
This is a conservative estimate, a more realistic 25% loss on 5,000 £165,000 affected homes would wipe in excess of 200 million pounds off the value of residents homes. This devaluation would instantly see many people in negative equity with terrible consequences for inward investment and a potential downwards spiral for affected areas. There has been no attempt by Infratil in its proposal to calculate or inform local residents of these potential personal losses.
We are asked by Infratil to believe that scheduled night flights will lead to an expansion of KIA which will bring both jobs and prosperity for the people of Thanet with minimal negative impact on our quality of life. The thousands of jobs they promise are based on over optimistic growth predictions for cargo and passengers and exaggerated numbers of jobs created on the back of these which any assessment of the figures will show. Increased cargo flights if they can ever be delivered will bring at best a small number of low paid jobs and the dream of based passenger carriers is doubtful due to the geographical constraints identified in the TDC’s independent report. Scheduled night flights will not bring the prosperity promised, indeed these night flights may very well cause net job losses, will damage the health of residents, affect our children’s academic potential and destroy the value of the homes we have worked so hard to afford.
It is for these reasons that I am opposed to the granting of scheduled night flights at KIA and demand that if the consultation returns a no majority that TDC not only refuse Infratil’s proposal but any attempt by Infratil to proceed with scheduled night flights against the residents of Thanet’s wishes be challenged by any and all means.