Yesterday saw the official launch of Manston’s latest bid to stuff our ears full of planes, round the clock. Charles Buchanan got favourable coverage on BBC TV, and uncritical coverage on BBC Radio Kent. Not everybody is pleased…
I saw the news today and felt like hitting the idiot who claims 3000 jobs will be created. What about the thousands of people who will have interrupted sleep and just do not want this????? I feel so angry and helpless.
SC, Ramsgate resident
Dear South East Today,
I understand that you are going to run a news item this evening featuring Mr. Buchanan of Manston Airport. I understand that he has commissioned a report which he is describing as “independent” and that this report says that night-flights are vital to the future of Manston. I would like to make a few salient points:
- The interests of Ramsgate do not revolve solely around Infratil’s desire to make money. There are hundreds of businesses and thousands of individuals for whom quality of life is a key factor in their decision to be here. When Manston was privatised we were told that the airport had to succeed or the area would die. Well, the airport has not succeeded and the area is still alive. There is no reason to fall for this rhetoric a second time. We simply do not know what would happen if the airport were to shut. It is entirely possible that whatever replaced it would generate far more employment than the airport ever has. Infratil needs to focus on using the runway that lies empty all day rather than seeking to introduce unsustainable night-flights.
- When Infratil bought Manston Airport, they were fully aware that there were restrictions on night-flights. If they had bothered looking they would have seen the large town at the end of the runway, and would have realized that it was unrealistic to expect this to change.
- The Section 106 Agreement, which sets out the restrictions applicable at Manston, is supposed to be renegotiated every few years. It is now more than ten years old and has never been renegotiated. If Mr. Buchanan wants to change the rules on night-flights shouldn’t he be doing this by renegotiating the agreement, rather than using the media to host a campaign on his behalf?
- If Mr. Buchanan wants to introduce night-flights why hasn’t he submitted a planning application?
- We have just had elections in Thanet. The party which publicly opposed night-flights in its manifesto was elected unanimously in all areas under the flight-paths, and the party which refused to make its position clear was rejected. The public has made its opinion clear on this matter and Mr. Buchanan ought to accept this.
I hope these comments help,
PB, Ramsgate resident
York Aviation told us 3,000 jobs could be created IF Manston gets Night Flights. Spokeswoman Louise Congdon, later admitted when asked if night flights alone would deliver these jobs, she replied, we are still in the process of calculating.
The fact is, these 3000 jobs rely solely on the Airports Master Plan being achieved. Night Flights will not bring 3000 jobs- Airport workers tell us they could handle night flights within their existing staff.
Louise Congdon confessed she had not looked at the plausibility of the Master Plan itself.
Lets look at it now! If the predictions were correct Manston would now have 1.3 million passengers, it only has 32,000. The master Plan says 2.4m passengers create 600 direct jobs. Manston is now saying 2.4m passengers equals 2,070 direct jobs, Wow – What a drop in productivity! If Manston needs 2,070 jobs for 2.4m passengers, that’s 905 jobs per million passengers.
Prestwick Airport have real flights and actual jobs rather than estimates, they need fewer than 300 jobs per million. Prestwick is another of INFRATIL airport, so it is a surprise Buchanan does not seem to know this. Maybe he thinks an East Kent worker is one third as useful as a Scottish one.
Just look at Buchanan’s track record regarding job promises. London City Airport he promised 3,135 jobs for an extra 36,000 flights, he got his flights but created only 726 jobs, only 200 of which went to the local people. 3,135 to 200 – it’s not optimistic , is it? This is a very successful airport that has no night Flights.
Mr Buchan is an experienced PR operator. He knows our politicians fall for the idea of thousands of jobs, because we’re in an area hard hit by unemployment – but promises are disingenuous at best and in no way match the facts the he has available to him. Night flights will not bring jobs, but will lose existing tourism-based jobs.
CB, Ramsgate resident
Dear Mr Warnett
Further to your item today which included an interview with a spokesperson from York Aviation and with Charles Buchanan. I write to express my concern about this news item.
- I’m concerned that such an important issue was not presented in a balanced way since no opponent to night flights was invited to speak on the programme.
- Clare McDonnell introduced the item by saying that ‘almost 3,000 jobs could be created’ if night flights were allowed out of Manston – ‘that is the conclusion’ of York Aviation. In fact, as Louise Congdon of York Aviation went on to say in the piece when quizzed on whether night flights specifically would bring about expansion/jobs, ‘we are still in the process of calculating‘. So, night flights equal jobs was not the conclusion of this report. This needs to be rectified.
- I would have liked some kind of questioning of Charles Buchanan regarding his track record. When Charles Buchanan was part of the management team at London City airport – the airport promised that in return for permission to increase flights by 50% (that’s 36,000 flights), there would be 3,135 new jobs. They got their flights and by 2008 had created only 726 jobs – a fraction of what was promised and only 30% of those were for local people. So 36,000 extra flights delivered only 210 local jobs. Buchanan loves spinning the notion of thousands of jobs – particularly in an area hard hit by long term and recent unemployment – but the figures across the industry show that this is disingenuous at best and downright falsehood at worse.
- I would have thought that in an item that focused on jobs, you would have wanted to consider the numbers of jobs lost as a result of any night time flying. With planes flying so low over Ramsgate during the night one might just as well sound the death knell of any tourism/leisure industry in the town. Hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, restaurants – why would anyone come stay in town so blighted? Maybe you are unaware of how low the planes fly and how noisy they are.
- Should you not have quizzed Charles Buchanan on why the airport is not able to make good use of its day time slots?
- The claim that night flights gives Manston ‘the ability to attract airlines’ wasn’t challenged at all. Where is the evidence for this? At a Ramsgate Town Council meeting late last year, Charles Buchanan stated that ‘at this time we have no prospective customers’. So, even at a time when Infratil had a night flight application in with TDC, Charles Buchanan couldn’t find a single airline sniffing in anticipation. There hardly seems to be a queue of airlines desperate to operate out of Manston given night flights.
- I am surprised that your item didn’t choose to relate the story to the recent elections where a resounding and atypical victory of the Labour party in Ramsgate showed that residents voted firmly for the party that had specifically and categorically come out against night flights.
- Nor did you choose to present a full picture of the impact of night flights on a population. With a rapidly growing body of evidence about the damaging effects, moves are towards eliminating exiting night flights and certainly no airport should be moving towards instating them. New evidence from Warwick Medical School shows that less than 6 hours sleep and disturbed sleep = 48% more chance of developing or dying from heart conditions. Latest WHO guidelines say night-time noise should be kept at no more than 40 dB, but a 747 taking off over Ramsgate will subject 30,900 people to 85 dB. Even with insulation in place, the independent BV report has said the number of people exposed to significant levels of night-time noise is not justified by the number of passengers and freight activity that are forecast to benefit from the proposals. Surely this is newsworthy?
I’d appreciate a more balanced look at such an important issue rather than a fairly casual top and tail to an item which seemed to give the impression that jobs were guaranteed and the small inconvenience of a bit of night time noise would be a small price to pay.
Please redress the balance by an item that looks at previous claims regarding jobs made by Charles Buchanan and by others in the aviation industry that have failed to deliver.
Also, let’s have some experts in environmental and health matters appearing on your programme.
Oh, and what about a voice from the people who would be under those extremely low-flying night time planes?
SK, Ramsgate resident