Thursday, 26 May 2011

Night Flying consultation NOW would be inappropriate and maybe illegal.

Your ‘aving a laaff!

Infratil pay an “independent” consultant to trot out the same old figures contained in their two year old Master plan and some sections of the population in Margate jump up and down like the coming of a second Messiah. Is it not a coincidence that the publication of this report coincides with the formation of our new hung “parliament”?

Ask yourself some simple questions.

Why is Manston the only airport in the UK which needs night flights to expand?

Why does Manston think it can attract planes at night, when it cannot attract them during the day?

If Manston can create 3000 “imaginary” jobs for 24 hr operation, why can they not create 1500 ”real” jobs by daytime operations?

Why does Prestwick, Infratil’s other UK airport only support 300 jobs for 1.8 million passengers?

The answer to all these questions is the SAME. Infratil has no intention of providing either 3000 jobs or night flights. They just want to hoodwink the council into agreeing to everything and then sell the airport to some unscrupulous operator who will utilise these concessions to our detriment.

So why the headline?   Night flying is an expansion of the airport beyond the existing planning agreements. Airport expansion has not yet been approved within the Core Strategy document “Shaping our Future”, which itself requires a second public consultation and approval by an Inspector from the Secretary of State. To stage a consultation about night flying expansion before approval of airport expansion would certainly be inappropriate and would pre-empt any decision by an Inspector, this may prove illegal.


  1. very well said.

    Perhaps the hung council will take into consideration the votes around the airport which were a landslide for those opposing night flights.

  2. Thank you Ken, the voice of reason. I'm just amazed how many seemingly sensible people are willing to be taken in by someone who they normally would turn away from their front door.

  3. Ken, I am often a supporter of your views, but on this I think you are over stressing the night flight issue. Many UK airports take night flights, including the ones necessarily diverted from Manston. This is not about regular all night usage, but being able to take that plane that missed its slot or was otherwise delayed and is arriving after its scheduled time.

    At the moment if a holiday flight returning from some destination to Manston is delayed to arrive after 11pm it has to divert elsewhere. The passengers then, instead of arriving back at their point of departure, are facing a long journey by road. This inability to show some adaptability must impact on the future of Manston.

    You also seem to be falling into the trap of making this a Margate/Ramsgate divide which, frankly, is not in the best interests of Thanet as a community.

    To me sensible consultation is the only way forward, look at the facts, rather than the fiction of Labour's election campaigning, and make a Thanet wide decision on whether we want a regional airport or not. The isle is all too small and close together to treat a major issue like this on a town by town basis.

    Localism is confined to events and flowers where you have noticed the differences before.

  4. Ever considered that the only Manston headed aircraft to crash killing people in Thanet, was in Broadstais at St. Peters High Street. Yet one does not get mass opposition to Manston or night flights from the good people of that town.

    Why is that? More enlightened, less influenced by Labour induced hysteria on the issue or just good, sensible folk who want to see Thanet flourish.

  5. Bradstow boy, that plane that crashed was an American fighter defending us in the cold war, and has absolutely nothing to do with noisy freight planes flying over our homes at all times of night,iT IS OUR RIGHT TO SLEEP AT NIGHT,
    and no councilors were elected to deprive us of a nights sleep,if they flew over your home waking you 2or 3 times a night you would be against night flying too,why should thousanda suffer to keep this non viable business venture afloat.

  6. Actually, Bill, you're wrong. Manston can already take delayed flights at night, and does. What they want now are regular, week in, week out, scheduled flights, at any time of night.

    In addtion, Manston wants to land 747 freighters at night which the vast majority of UK airports simply do allow - they're just too noisy. The Council's own independent report showed that a 747 taking off over Ramsgate at night will disturb 30,903 (nice round number!) people.

    Finally, workers at the airport say they can already handle night flights on their existing staffing. Given there are just a handful of day flights a week, I believe them. So, night flights won't bring new jobs. This is all about Infratil getting permission to do at Manston what other airports close to residential populations are not allowed to do....and then selling the airport as fast as they possibly can. They've lost millions on Manston and their shareholders are sick of it.

  7. I really cannot get my head round this argument that granting night flights is suddenly going to make Manston a saleable asset. It would only be so if the night flights were going to lead to profitability and, in such case, Infratil might as well hang on to it to recoup their losses.

    Furthermore, the only flights Manston can normally accept out of hours are emergencies, not delayed ones.

    As to the Broadstairs crash it hardly matters when, what type of plane or what it was doing, the fact remains it was trying to reach Manston thus suggesting that Ramsgate is not unique in having the risk potential. The fighter got into difficulties, which can happen, and was not damaged in some cold war dogfight. There were none over UK airspace.

    Thanet negativity persists unabated and really the best thing that could happen to the place is for Labour to take over, kill off all jobs, have everyone dependent on them for benefits, turn all the schools into comprehensives, requisition all homes for social housing and all live happily ever after in some dumbed down socialist utopia where the brightest local is Clive Hart. You could all protest to your hearts content outside a variety of closed down business from Thanet Earth to the Port of Ramsgate. For good measure, you could break away from the union, renounce the Queen and make Ian Driver president.

    Why you never know, you might even get the likes of Arthur Scargill and Bob Crow moving here and Unite would have their conference at the Winter Garden.

  8. Bill Richards - you're wrong on several key points:
    * Very few UK airports take the kind of night flights that Manston wants. Prestwick in Scotland, and East Midlands Airport do, but they're in the middle of nowhere so nobody is inconvenienced.
    * Manston wants 747's to be able to take off and land throughout the night - this is forbidden at Luton, Heathrow and Gatwick, because they're TOO NOISY.
    * Manston's night flight bid is ENTIRELY about SCHEDULED night flights.
    * At the moment the ONLY night flights Manston can accept are the late arrivals that you mistakenly say have to be diverted elsewhere.
    * As Ken points out, Manston is barely used during the 16 hours of daytime. It's not the inability to make scheduled landings at night that's preventing planes coming to Manston during the daytime.
    * As you rightly observe, it's "a long journey by road" to get passengers or cargo from Manston to anywhere else in the UK. That's why Manston isn't thriving as a commercial airport - it's in the wrong place!

  9. Anon 13:07 - here's the logic as I see it... Manston is currently unsellable (as a commercial passenger airport) because nobody has managed to make a go of it. Its a non-runner.

    Getting the go-ahead for night flights MAY be enough to persuade someone with a different, i.e. non-passenger, business model that it could work for them.

    Infratil promise their investors a 20% return. The Manston site cost them £10.3m in 2005 (see: and has lost £2m to £4m annually ever since. Their investors won't have the patience for Manston to start breaking even, let alone waiting for it to start delivering a 20% return.

    Intfratil's best option is to make the airport sellable, by giving it a unique selling point - 24 hour flights, and then sell as soon as possible for as much as possible, thus crystallising their losses and freeing up cash to invest elsewhere.

  10. Bill, The proposal is for continuous night flights not the occasional diversion.

    As far as the Margate/Ramsgate divide is concerned, I am all for Thanet working together but when Margate gets an £18 million Turner Centre and we get night flights. Margate gets flowers galore and we get our giant terracorra flower pots "officially" pinched. Someone has to say enough is enough.

  11. Robert Williams27 May 2011 at 17:39

    Ken, I am struggling to come to terms with the suggesting that consultation might be illegal. To talk about something and consider proposals must surely be within the remit of our elected representatives. It could only constitute any kind of risk to legality if they then acted upon such proposals without following proper public consultation processes.

    There is far too much scaremongering on this issue already without you adding to it. I think the position of our district council is that the Labour group has come out firmly against night flights whilst the Conservatives are suggesting consultation followed by a free vote.

  12. Robert, this is not scaremongering, it is correct planning procedure, carried out successfully by numerous councils throughout the UK but something that TDC have in the past, seemed to consider optional.

    There is no remit for any major Manston airport expansion until the Core Strategy document has been ratified by an Inspector for the Secretary of State.

  13. Ken
    Stick to your guns. Your pre-election post with the sums said it all. IF one could believe Infratil then maybe we would have a different view but allowing the shoulder times just opens the door to all-night flying. NNF at 1308 said it right. It's a long way from anywhere; the effective catchment area is east of a line from Folkestone, through Ashford to Faversham. West of this line it's just as easy to get to Stansted or Gatwick. And what's the population profile of this catchment area - hardly millionaires row.

  14. Robert Williams28 May 2011 at 11:39

    Ken, I still cannot see how consultation and discussion can in any way be illegal and I still maintain it is disingenuous at least for you to suggest it might be. It is only by consultation that any proposal can be put forward for inclusion in the Core Strategy document.

  15. Robert, Night Flights are specifically excluded from the Core Strategy and therefore should not be considered until airport expansion has been approved.

  16. Mind you the new delegation of powers, or localism bill, could change all that!

  17. Of course our Tory councilors want a consultation
    they know that where people never ever hear a plane they will get support which the is Margate and broadstairs areas the thousands in Ramsgate will be outvoted,and will suffer loss of sleep and quality of life,our councillors can then say it was the will of the people,thus getting themseves off the hook,or so they think, there is the bill of human rights that has already dealt with these sort of cases in Strasborg a few years ago and the people triumphed over night flight implementation and were granted compensation.

  18. Seems like they triumphed over punctuation as well, Anon 1508.

    A consultation is to find out the pros and cons, not to take a decision. I think what you are talking about is a referendum and, yes, you are probably right, that a majority of people in Thanet would support airport expansion if it was going to bring increased prosperity to the area.

    It is, however, a big if and that is what needs examining. All this anti-stance and Margate/Ramsgate divide will get us nowhere. Mind you, I did not notice total silence on the Turner Contemporary issue from the good people of Ramsgate. Then it was all one island and of interest to us all.