HERNE Bay will be getting the worst of the night-flights deal being thrashed out at Manston, campaigners have warned. Kent International Airport owner Infratil is asking Thanet District Council to overturn the ban on regular night flying and let up to six cargo planes a night flying directly over Herne Bay. Manston claims development of passenger services will be possible only if the existing freight business is successful. And, to attract more freight, it must be able to schedule planes to land and take off at night.
The night flights will be fully laden cargo aircraft, which are usually older, louder planes. Every plane will count towards the total annual noise quota for the airport, and planes louder than the agreed maximum will be fined £1,000. Currently, flights over a set noise level which land of take-off at Manston after 11pm or before 6am are not allowed. If flights do happen, the carrier is liable for a £1,000 fine. Campaigner Phil Rose from Herne Bay is monitoring every Manston move. He said:
“What makes me angry is that Herne Bay is being set up as the fall guy and people need to know. Flights over Herne Bay will only count as being half as loud as they actually are, and pilots who break the rules, by being too loud or too low, will only get fined half as much. Manston will put all the planes they can over us, and we’ll get the loudest. The impact on Herne Bay will be massive, and it will be all pain, no gain. The airport wants to move from two night flights a week to an average of 7.7 night flights per night – nearly a month’s worth of noise every night. These old Boeing 747 cargo freighters sound like a pneumatic drill at full throttle seven metres away.”
Bay city councillor Ron Flaherty, a former member of Kent International Airport consultative committee, said: “We are calling on Canterbury City Council officers to arrange a public meeting to hear what our residents have to say about this.
“It is clearly a most important issue to everyone who lives under the flight path. The last time this came up, Thanet District Council voted to have night flights but in a westerly direction – over Herne Bay. We must not be caught unawares this time.”
He has called for council chief executive Colin Carmichael to chair the meeting. Campaigners are angry that meetings are being held in Thanet, but not Herne Bay. Paul Twyman, chairman of Kent International Airport, says he will now attend a meeting in Herne Bay. Those concerned about the plan can visit www.nonightflights.info to sign the online petition.