Thanet District Council have created cock-up out of chaos - a half-arsed consultation, then playing put the genie back in the bottle. It would have been so much simpler just to bat Manston's proposals straight back to them, just as the previous administration did, and for exactly the same reasons.
Originally, the consultation was to last 90 days, be carried out by MORI (for example), and cost £50-£80k. Councillors and members alike have been getting twitchy about the cost, and so they've opted to do it in-house, i.e. on the cheap. There's no suggestion that this will produce a better consultation.
Manston have dragged their feet for years over this, to the extent that even the Council has been appeared quite nimble in comparison. Nonetheless, Clive Hart has tried to allay our impatience by acting swiftly. Personally, for an exercise of this importance, I would rather he did it right than did it soon.
Having just realised that the S106 agreement means that Manston can proceed with whatever night flight policy they like, TDC have decided to wait and see what effect the night flights will have. Erm, quite apart from what their native common sense should be telling them, TDC have now commissioned two independent reports, both of which conclude that the costs of night flights outweigh the benefits.
They are also waiting to see if night flights would result in an "intensification or change of operation" at the airport. Hmmm... tricky one. Currently: 16 hours a day, with scheduled night flights forbidden. Proposed: 24 hours a day, with no limit on night flights. You know what - I think there will be a difference.
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