Thank you Michael for asking for my views about the development of Manston.
I believe that Thanet in general and Ramsgate in particular have the opportunity to use many of its existing assets as the basis of its sustainable regeneration. I am promoting greater use of our historical legacy as part of the development of our tourism for the future. I am pushing for greater emphasis on attracting green jobs in agriculture, engineering and tourism. I am also working with the Environment Agency to ensure that we do all we can to restore the health of the Thanet aquifer albeit a long term job! I met with them this week and will issue a meeting report shortly that you are most welcome to publish.
However this is not to neglect or ignore the opportunities that the port, the airport and the train links should play in supporting the prosperity and economic security of many of our residents, who now find it even more difficult to find jobs of any sort, never mind long term secure and well paid roles. My Labour colleague and I are one on this.
We are uniquely placed to benefit from the sea, rail and air transport and for that reason I support the development of Manston Airport. My support is however not unconditional.
· The development of Manston must be undertaken with clear protections for the aquifer. I met with the Environment Agency last week to discuss this and will be working closely with them to ensure that no development will compromise the long term aim of restoring the aquifer to a healthy state.
· The people of Ramsgate are fully consulted on the impact of the development of the airport. Having met the Stop Manston Expansion Campaign I do understand their concerns and would urge Infratil to constantly engage with the community.
· I would only support the airport with measures in place to ensure that the planes flying over Ramsgate are controlled both in terms of numbers and night flights.
· I would also want to discuss with Infratil the flight paths that could be used to minimise the noise pollution over Ramsgate.
As I say I am supportive of the development of Thanet’s transport assets including the airport. However as with all developments this has to be done with conditions that take serious consideration of the environment and the residents.
I look forward to no doubt hearing from many of your readers.
Best wishes as always