No Night Flights campaigner welcomes KCC report
Campaigners against night flights have welcomed a Kent County Council report into the future of the Manston Airport site. Phil Rose was a co-founder of the No Night Flights group in 2009 to oppose aircraft disrupting sleep for residents from Herne Bay across to Ramsgate. At the time the possibility of Manston becoming a terminal for cargo flights was being discussed, but was dropped. Mr Rose has welcomed the report by KCC which he believes points to a stronger future for the site as a mixed development of housing and industry.
“It’s refreshing to see the important distinction being drawn between the nostalgia and sentimentality that has characterised much of the pro-airport campaign, and the vision and hard-headed realism that must guide the future use of the site. Aviation minister Robert Goodwill has emphasised that the commercial realities of a competitive market must override any desires to intervene. Both KCC and Thanet District Council have made the airport site central to their regeneration efforts. But it just didn’t work. I don’t say it with any pleasure, but the plans for an airport are dead. You can’t buck the market, and Manston has proved a failure in the aviation market.”
Manston airport campaigners are still hoping to explore the option of development from a company called RiverOak. Their protests have won widespread cross-party political support in attempts to save it as an operational airport following its sale in September 2014. But last week Conservative KCC leader Paul Carter revealed that the airport has lost £100 million during the 16 years of private ownership. Mr Rose described the option of a compulsory purchase order to protect the 150 jobs as a “blind alley” which is holding back developers from creating new jobs to boost the local economy. He added:
“The proposals being put forward by the Discovery Park developers are not just for housing. They include advanced manufacturing brought in, as well as service industries like doctors’ surgeries and skilled work. It means that housing on the 720-acre site would have all the necessary infrastructure in place.”
Herne Bay Gazette, April 2nd 2015