So if we have 747s at Manston what would a spillage or accident be likely to involve?
The fuel used for jet engines like those in a 747 isn’t aviation gasoline which is a sort of hi octane version of the petrol used in cars.
Jet engine fuel is much more like paraffin that people used in paraffin heaters and oil lamps before something cleaner and less smelly came along, it is a sooty smelly burner.
Also the chemicals used in the foam to put out a fire in an air accident would be harmful to the aquifer (underground drinking and agricultural water reservoir in the porous chalk under Thanet)
How big could a spillage be and how big could an accident be?
I will stick with the 747s as an example, 747s can carry up to about 500 passengers and have a maximum fuel capacity of 57,285gallons (216,840 litres).
From this point on one can’t consider Manston expansion in isolation, because the other big developments on the aquifer put strain on water resources and pollution problems.
The problem with the airport, Thanet Earth and China Gateway is that they are all very close to water abstraction points. Thanet Earth had no environmental impact study, China Gateway’s 106 agreement looks impossible to comply to in terms of surface drainage and the airport isn’t complying to its discharge consent.
It is the cumulative effect of all of these cranking up the level of risk that worries me, rather like driving a car brakes, tyres and suspension all of which just managed to pass the MOT.
There also appears to have been a pollution incident at their bulk storage installation with the cleanup soon to start. I have published documentation to support this on a series of linked internet pages at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/drink/ including letters from the EA to the airport operator expressing their concerns.
The airports contingency plan to dig out a fuel spillage caused by a major air accident on the grass part of the airport was based on the ludicrous assumption that, the police and air accident authority would allow a digger to operate amongst the evidence, injured and dead bodies.
Now they appear to have accepted that this plan wasn’t viable, leaving them with plan at all.
A large fuel spillage in this part of the underground reservoir could permanently damage it meaning, no more agriculture in Thanet, no Thanet Earth, hosepipe bans every summer. The other approach of concreting it over doesn’t work because we need the rainfall on it to replenish the water.
I think it likely that the unrealistic approach to the restrictions imposed by the water source protection zones, was partly responsible for the collapse of the share price of the China Gateway developers. We certainly shouldn’t be treating people who wish to invest in Thanet in this way and need to be able to produce a clear cut understanding of what can and can’t be allowed to take place on the source protection zones, before these companies spend large amounts of money on planning for pipedreams.
The two large developments I have looked into where construction has started Pleasurama where the access road has been built without a flood risk assessment, despite a strong recommendation from the EA for one and Thanet Earth built without an environmental impact assessment both look dangerous.
With Manston business park, in the initial consultation stage TDC planning must have known that CGP would have had to conform to the same standards mandatory for the other developments on the site. Southern Water and the EA between them stipulate that the surface runoff can’t go into soakaways or Pegwell bay, it can’t go into the mains drainage as it would have to be pumped uphill (a power cut in a thunderstorm would make this unworkable, apart from the large volume of water involved making this solution unlikely to be viable) that leaves gravity fed balancing ponds. There are two problems with the balancing pond solution one is that CGP don’t own enough land lower than their site and higher than the part of the water source protection zone that they would be allowed to discharge into and the airport operator, acting as a statutory consultee has stipulated against them because of problems with waterfowl.
I suggested to TDC that some land was acquired away from the flight path towards Pegwell bay so the balancing ponds could discharge into Pegwell bay.
I then came across the issue that KCC Highways don’t need to obtain discharge consent, but obviously are nor stupid enough to discharge water from the main roads into soakaways on the aquifer, (because of lorry crashes) so they have tapped into the airport drainage system that discharges into Pegwell bay.
We now have a situation where too much fresh water is being discharged into Pegwell bay, reducing the salt water content to the point where a lot of the marine life in the bay is dieing.
No one I have asked can answer the simple question where does the surface runoff water go from the china gateway development, although the 106 has been thrashed out there are still no surface drainage plans, CGPs shares the were trading at £1.70 a year ago, last traded, last month at 10p.
All the time I come back to the problem of poor consultation between the parties involved in the three big developments on the aquifer, the most ludicrous being that in the airport expansion master plan the airport access road is shown going through some of the buildings that CGP show on their plans for China Gateway.
A problem with the water supply in the southeast is the goal posts are continually moving, the EA and other experts I consult, say that the latest concerns with development on the aquifer are those of replenishment, more water demand combined with less land to rain on.
I am sorry that some of this repetition of things I have sad before, but what we seem to be getting involved in here is considerable airport expansion before the expansion masterplan has been discussed and a safe infrastructure is in place.
Also like the China Gateway project they are going to be tied when it comes to concreting over more land, because there is nowhere for more surface runoff to go.
The picture is of the Red Arrows at Manston from the book I publish, Twilight of Pistons.