Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Dealing with Night Flight proposals - and halting the creation of a Monster

Since Labour took control of Thanet Council in December it has become clear that the airport, its consultative committee, and many local residents are extremely concerned regarding the long drawn out time the council has been taking over Infratil's night time flying proposals.
The former Conservative administration had commissioned an expensive independent consultants report and at further serious cost legal opinions were sought. Large amounts of council officers valuable time had been used up on the process and yet another expensive company had been engaged to carry out the consultation, but little or no real progress was visible.
Indeed, many people were rightly angry at the lack of action, mainly because at a public meeting earlier in 2011 the former Conservative council leader had suggested the consultation might even start before Christmas. This when he must have known that through the process he was following, it could not have started before late February (after the TDC Overview and Scrutiny Committee). Even then, under Conservative plans, it would have had to run for several more months before council officers could even started to produce the findings and present them to councillors for further discussion.
Swift action is needed to take back control of a process that has clearly spiraled out of control under the previous Conservative administration.
Labour council leader Cllr Clive Hart will therefore today sign a TDC decision notice which outlines the intention to carry out an in-house 28 day consultation of Thanet residents that will be weighted strongly for those directly affected. 

The decision follows legal advice which explains that at this stage, the proposals do not require a planning application.  Just as importantly, the advice goes on to state that the council’s role is one of ‘consultee’ only and as such the council will not be in a position to make a binding decision on night time flying at this stage.

Labour council leader Cllr Clive Hart said: "it is clear our Conservative predecessors were struggling with this issue. They had created a monster of a process that had got completely out of control. It would have left the council in the ridiculous position of spending a small fortune of council tax payers money on a consultation process that was only ever going to be used to form the council's 'opinion'. The council has been advised that if there is an intensification or change in operation at the airport in the future then this position may change, and a planning application may be required, but at the moment the council is simply being asked to provide a response to the proposals.

My Conservative predecessor had already spent tens of thousands of pounds on this process before we took control of the council. His plans would have seen us spend around a further £50,000 on consultants to run the process his way. He may be content to use ratepayers hard earned cash but I am not!
Labour will do precisely what is reasonable, proportionate and appropriate under the circumstances".

The decision comes after the findings of an independent assessment commissioned by the former Conservative administration and carried out by Parsons Brinckerhoff Ltd. on behalf of TDC, call into question a number of the environmental and economic claims of the airport in their submission to the council. 

Notes. From the Thanet Labour Manifesto 2011:

'Labour will support the development of Manston Airport but will always be mindful of the impact on residents and the environment'.

'Labour will seek a policy of no flights during the hours of 23:00 to 07:00, except for emergency landings and humanitarian flights'.

Published by Thanet Labour Group Press Office, 44 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent, CT9 2RW.


  1. Can you explain how it came to be that TDC lost control of the airport?

  2. Dear Clive

    I have read the Parsons Brinkerhoff report on the night flights, and amongst other things it pointed to the Council requiring legal opinion on whether there was a material intensification of use with night flights. I would suggest that a move from 31 ad hoc flights in the last 12 months to up to 700 planned flights per annum must qualify as a material intensification of use and would be true no matter what baseline is used).

    It would be negligent of TDC not to call this in for a planning application review, and would perpetuate the shambolic regulation and monitoring of the airport that has got us into this state.

    As a Ramsgate resident who lives directly under the flight path, I demand that TDC take action on this and exercise their duty in ensuring that this proposal is properly scrutinised through a rigorous planning application.


    Gavin Winpenny

  3. I now understand why any complaints I've made to the airport about their night flight activities have been treated with such contempt - they have no obligations to the local residents or the council, only their shareholders. Who is responsible at TDC for signing an agreement with the airport that allowed this state of affairs. I'd like to say it's laughable except my family's health and education is at stake. Shameful.

  4. For years TDC have neglected their duties on many issues, the airport is one of them. No weekly checks have been made on the incoming and outgoing activities of all planes.
    Engine checks on planes arriving and leaving Manston should be done on all flights, this has also been badly neglected. If a plane with a faulty engine crashed soon after take off, it would plough into heavily built up areas and kill many people, they are playing with our lives.

    The 3 yearly review meetings between Infratil and TDC working party did not exist. It is only since the NNF committee started investigating, that meetings were held.
    Infratil had failed to produce a daily data of all scheduled flights incoming and outgoing, times dates, safety issues did not even exist.

    To be honest it was not just the Conservative party failing in their duties but also the previous Labour council. They are both as bad as each other and still they are spending more time on arguing and bickering like school children, instead of dealing with today's crisis.

    TDC has spent a lot of money on having extensive investigations made on the impact night flights would put upon the residents of Thanet. The investigation was returned to TDC and confirmed that night flights would inflict danger to people's health. This confirmation should have been enough to stop the airport’s night flights , but no, the inpact on people’s health seems to be insufficient cause to refuse planning permission for the airport to have night flights.
    It has been said even now, the Council are planning to have a public consultation on Night flights, yet more wasted tax payers money.
    Just get on with it, make a decision on the facts you have already collected and paid for. Night flights will bring bad health to thousands, TDC have already paid a lot of our money to prove this fact, so now act on it.

    The Airport job situation, many people still think night flights will create many jobs, this is a myth it has also been proven to be incorrect, half a dozen jobs maybe created but at the cost of the health of so many, is this worth it? NO.

    Flybe is pulling out of Manston, the reason given by the airport was, If Flybe couldn't have night flights they would leave Manston. Complete pack of lies, a letter from Flybe has been sent to NNF committee, stating it had nothing to do with night flights.

    Just how many more lies do we have to contend with before this matter is put to rest?
    How much longer have the people of Thanet got to live under the threat of Night Flights?
    Will they be able to sleep through the night and be able to work all day? What will the future be, for thousands of residents living in Thanet?

  5. At last the truth about the airport planning situation and night flights is in the public domain. Within the existing LDCs obtained by the MoD at the changeover to civilian use and the 106 agreement negotiated at the time, Manston Airport only has to give details of proposed night flights before commencement.

    However any expansion of the airport does require planning permission and it should be made clear to Infratil that if they do not provide a "good neighbours" policy in the matter of night flights, no planning permissions for expansion will be agreed.

  6. You can't halt a monster by doing nothing. You were elected to oppose night-flights. In effect Infratil has told you that they are going ahead. It's your move.