Friday, 30 January 2009

Steve Ladyman on Manston expansion

I sent an email today to Roger Gale about Manston expansion I am not one of his constituents and he doesn’t have to reply to me, I forwarded it on to my own MP for comment, and to be honest Steve has always replied to me, here it is.

RE: Manston
1/30/2009 18:07:40 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:


As most people know I have always supported Manston so long as there are tight controls on night flying and the plans for it are kept within reason. I believe 'reasonable' is that we could eventually achieve 3m passenger movements a year (which would probably equate to about 80 plane movements a day (that is both landings and takeoffs and depending on the size of aircraft) of which, on average, about 25 would be over Ramsgate. This will take quite a while to achieve (probably more than 10 years) but would create about 3000 jobs. 3m is also inline with independent expert estimates of what could be achieved at manston and in line with the Governments estimate in the White Paper published a few years ago.

The idea of Manston being an 'Olympic' airport as Mr Gale suggests is nonsense. Equally I reject entirely Cllr Carters calls for Manston to be used instead of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. Generally, the Conservatives plans on aviation are contradictory and are aimed at winning votes in West London - you cannot at the same time argue that Heathrow should not expand to cap aircraft movements on environmental grounds but a new airport in the Estuary should be built or regional airports expanded in order to allow aviation to grow!

Infratil's plans that they could achieve 6m-10m movements at Manston are extremely optimistic in my view. They would also be unacceptable to people in Ramsgate unless they can guarantee that 80% of all these plane movements are away from the Town, that night time and weekend flying would be tightly limited and that average plane occupancy would be at least 200 in order to minimise plane movements.

I especially reject Mr Gales calls for a 'Manston Parkway' station on several grounds. First, why should the tax payer / rail passengers pay for a new station when they have perfectly good ones in Thanet now and I see no sign of the airport owner wanting to pay for it. Secondly, I don't see how it could be justified economically for less than 10m passenger movements and that level of activity is completely unacceptable. Thirdly, we are blessed in Thanet with sufficient rail stations that 80% of us can walk to the station so why would we want to threaten their viability by building a station primarily for the airport that we would all have to get in our cars and drive to? Fourthly, Ramsgate Station would be only a few minutes by bus from the airport if a few modifications were made to it and the local roads and can perfectly well serve the airport for the forseeable future. Finally, the fast train starts in December but it won't be fast if it has to stop at extra stations other than those planned - if we had a Parkway station it won't be long before the operators are saying the train can stop at Ramsgate OR the airport but not both and the future fortune of Ramsgate in my view is very closely tied to the new train.

I have been consistent in my views on the airport - unlike the Conservatives that campaigned in several council elections against its growth. One of their councillors was specifically elected on that basis and one even helped 'found' MAG! Now they have changed their position entirely and seem to be unwilling to negotiate effectively with the airport owner about airport activity whilst they do seem willing to contemplate unlimited airport growth at Manston. One of their councillors even told people on the Nethercourt recently ' You knew the airport was there when you bought your house so stop complaining.'

In my view Thanet's priorities remain creating jobs and pushing up incomes. The sort of airport I envisage would make a big contribution to those priorities without ruining the quality of local life. However, we need to be careful not to allow 'zealots' or people with a vested interest to push us further than we want to go and Mr Gale and his acolyte Ms Sandys now seem to have joined that camp.


From: []Sent: Fri 30/01/2009 16:33To: LADYMAN, SteveSubject: Fwd: Manston

Steve just sent this off to Roger Gale, he probably won't reply however I wondered what your stance on the issue is any thoughts either for publication or not would be interesting, I suspect it will be an election issue in Ramsgate.

Best regards Michael


From: Michael Child To: CC:, Sent: 30/01/2009 16:26:11 GMT Standard Time Subj: Manston

Hi Roger I wouldn't normally expect you to reply as I am not one of your constituents however as what you are supporting over Manston appears to have a direct effect on my families health here in Ramsgate I would appreciate some sort of explanation that I can publish for local people to read.

There seems to be some disparity between what the Conservatives are saying nationally about Airport expansion.

This is what the shadow transport secretary had to say about Heathrow's third runway.

"Theresa Villiers described it as "a bleak day for our environment and for those of us that care about safeguarding it" after Labour gave the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow.

The Shadow Transport Secretary warned, "A third runway at Heathrow would inflict devastating damage to the environment and to the quality of life of millions of people and the Conservatives will fight them every step of the way."

She highlighted the negative effects that will result from the third runway:

The Environment Agency have warned that pollution from a third runway would increase the risk of serious illness and early death around the airport

MPs as far apart as Reading and Greenwich have expressed concern about the impact of aircraft noise from Heathrow on their constituents

222,000 extra flights a year will massively boost Britain's carbon emissions"

Now I live right under the flight path and would put up with a fair amount of extra noise if I thought it would lead to serious economic regeneration, however if it's going to have a serious effect on my family's health well that's another matter altogether.

If you feel that airport expansion at the expense of local peoples health is OK I can only say to you that it's time you had a serious rethink, or perhaps you think Theresa Villiers is spreading scare mongering twaddle whatever the answer is you can't have it both ways.

Up till now my stance is that Southern Water, The Environment Agency and TDCs contaminated land officer need to get together and decide if it's safe and practical to expand the airport with it being situated on the drinking water aquifer.

The biggest problem with Manston airport is it's right in the middle of the underground water reservoir that we just can't do without and if we get a fuel spillage, caused by an air accident, on the green part of the airfield, the contaminated soil has to be dug out before it soaks down and permanently damages the aquifer.

The Airport has a digger standing by for this purpose, without prompt action it's no agriculture in Thanet and no Thanet Earth, lots of hosepipe bans in the summer and increased water bills.

The digger contingency plan isn't adequate for larger planes, in fact I doubt it is adequate for the current traffic. In the case of an air accident, which is though to be caused by criminal or terrorist activity, or where people are killed it seems very unlikely that the police or air accident authority would allow them to dig up the evidence on the site. With out an answer to this one I can't see how there can be any airport expansion.

Best regards Michael



  1. Michael,

    Perhaps you will get a reply from Roger Gale but if so, you'll be luckier than me as Mr. Gale has steadfastly refused to reply to any e-mails from me as I guess he's worked out I don't live in his constituency so am never likely to be voting for him. I'm always polite and argue my points fairly but even so, nothing from him.

    Mind you, my own Tory councillors in S. Thanet don't reply either so perhaps Tories only answer e-mails from those they think likely to be on their side.

  2. Michael, Is it wise to post these e-mails here?

  3. Why shouldn't the emails be here, surely this is all in the public interest?

  4. 19.32 For the most part I find that despite often having different views the local politicians are charming and frankly considering the difficult issues I raise I get more replies than one would expect.

    Jeremy maybe unwise I am not sure, but I am honoured by the accolade of being considered a fool, in my opinion the hardest part to play, in the play. I thought I made it pretty clear that the response was intended for publication and have published plenty of Steve’s responses in the past.

    Peter my feelings are that with the big local developments Manston, China Gateway, Pleasurama, Westwood Cross, Dreamland and so on that it is important our local politicians grasp the limitations of what can and can’t be safely and viably done and that their views are known and understood. Thanks for the support on this one.


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