Friday, 10 June 2011

Labour Night Flights Resolution

By Cllr David Green

Thanet District Council, as the local Planning Authority has a clear duty to produce a Local Development Framework, against which local businesses, developers and residents can plan their future in terms of land use and environmental impact.

It is clear, that the Council has failed in this duty with regard to the future development of Kent International Airport. The environmental agreement that controls the conditions of use of the airport (section 106) was devised in 2000 and was anticipated as being updated every 3 years. In the intervening years it has served the community well, allowing development of the airport, but protecting residents from the worst environmental impacts. However, the aircraft industry and environmental standards have moved on. A new agreement is required, and the airport owners need a clear guide to what is acceptable.

The airport owners have produced a master plan of how they would like the airport to develop. It is aspirational as one would expect, and optimistic with regard to predicted traffic and jobs created. In the absence of planning guidance from the Council, the danger is that the master plan will become mistaken for Council policy.

Through inaction, the Council has allowed a myth to develop that all that is required is some minor adjustment to the conditions of the old s106 agreement that will allow the relaxations of environmental control that the master plan requires. As far as night time flying is concerned it is clear from reports commissioned by the airport and separately by the Council, that the environmental impact would be severe. This reinforces the legal opinion obtained on at least two occasions that night time flying represents sufficient intensification of use as to require fresh planning approval.

The local Labour Party has been pressing for the issue to be addressed, as it should be, through the Planning system for years now. We argued through the Council’s airport working party and Scrutiny system that a clear policy of no night flights was the only policy acceptable at Kent International as at so many other airports.

On Tuesday Clive Hart, our leader, and Alan Poole, our deputy leader moved the following resolution to be debated at the next Thanet Council Meeting:

‘The Council adopts a policy of not allowing scheduled, pre-planned or otherwise timetabled flights between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00.  That a period of 1 hour at either end of the flying day be allowed for late/early arriving flights only.  That a penalty be applied to any flights arriving during the 1 hour periods.  No take-offs will be allowed between 23:00 and 07:00 hours and a schedule of exceptions to the above be prepared to include ‘mercy flights’, and flights for medical emergencies, coastguard movements etc’.

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