Saturday, 25 February 2012

Kent International Airport Manston Night Flights Consultation

The anti night flights lobby has taken to the road in a classic bus, when I went out for my lunchtime walk today it was parked up at Ramsgate Harbour and there were lots of local people discussing night flights, aircraft noise and writing responses to the open consultation being carried out by Thanet District Council.

Regardless of your feelings about night flights I would recommend having your say on this issue, when it comes local consultation this is an important one and like it or not local government is moving slowly towards using local consultations to make decisions.

The internet really does theoretically make it possible to do without politicians and ask everyone who wants to, to make the decisions instead.

If you want to take part in this consultation you have until Friday to do this online click on the link for the council’s webpages about the consultation.

The council haven’t made this an easy one, you can’t just enter your name and postcode and tick, yes I want night flights of no I don’t want night flights. What you have to do is send them an email or write to them.

Responses must contain your full name and address (WITH YOUR POSTCODE) either email your response to or post it to:

Thanet District Council,
PO Box 9,

The airport’s main argument for night flights is that they will help with the economic regeneration of Thanet, their latest documentation is here

They also seem to running their own night flights consultation and you can of course email your responses to

According to their latest document you can: “take a moment to let us and Thanet District Council know your thoughts on our proposed night-time flying
policy and the future of Manston Airport.”

Then it says: “Your comments may also be forwarded to Thanet District Council.”

I have to admit that my taking an even handed approach to this issue is wearing a bit thin, I had assumed that the airport was taking this issue seriously and maintaining a professional approach to the issue, but this sort of nonsense is not helpful. 

I have heard now from three independent sources that the airport operators are in the process of trying to sell the airport to a Middle Eastern operator. I have also heard that Flybee pulled out of the airport because the operator wasn’t to prepared to invest in their facilities there.

I am of course treating this as rumour at the moment, but I think this is a different consultation viewed with a background of an operator minimising investment and trying to sell the airport, than it would be with an operator with a long term commitment to the airport.

I have given this consultation a considerable amount of thought and concluded that I can’t make an informed response without some experience of the disruption that the night flights the want would make.

Frankly with out a period of actual night flights being made over Ramsgate by the loudest planes they are asking for flying the maximum number of flights at the most disruptive of hours, I just don’t know if I would get enough sleep to function properly.

I have suggested before that one way out to this problem, that would actually link the level of disruption to the actual economic benefits, would be to allow the airport the same proportion of night flights to day flights as that enjoyed by Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

Something that concerns me is that there is always money to be made out of the increasingly strict environmental controls being imposed across the world and that any commercial operation that has lesser environmental controls than its competition is able to exploit this situation at a profit, to the detriment of the area the operate in.    

I will continue with this as I get time.     


  1. Why aren't they at Turner Contempory?

  2. I emailed the council & the airport earlier in the week, after reading the consultation leaflet thingy that came through the door. I didn't put my post code though, I didn't think to & it didn't say to - as far as I recollect. They have my email address but I wonder if I should email again, this time WITH my post code :o)

  3. Yes or your comments may not get the scrutiny they deserve.

  4. I think airport operators are running a "spoiling" operation, i am sure some people will respond to their mail shot thinking that it is the same thing as the TDC consultation.
    It would be much better if the council had used a single for or against type consultation. They have already spent many thousands on the software that enables them to do this.
    Another case of they don't really want the the input of the people who live in thanet. Typical of the senior officers who live outside the area.

  5. Restless in RamsgateFebruary 25, 2012 11:41 pm

    Just in response to a couple of your points.

    Surely one wouldn't want to experience the pain of surgery without anaesthesia simply to gain an idea of how dreadful it would be? Surely the best idea is to look at the suffering of others e.g. at other airports with night flights and learn from these examples? The evidence of the damage of night flights in terms of health and education is overwhelming and is in any number of peer-reviewed research papers.

    If Manston were allowed to have the same number of night flights to day flights, proportionately, as Heathrow - we'd have 15 night flights a year! If only that was all we were being asked to bear! Manston has so few day flights that if they achieved the number of night flights they are asking for, they would vastly outweigh the day time slots.

    Plenty of facts for all to read at

  6. I think the No Night Flights people did a great job in organising this stunt. There was a lot of intelligent discussion and debate taking place, and they didn't allow themselves to be drawn into a slanging match with abusive idiots who stalked past shouting at them. What I found utterly ridiculous was the advice from Councillors that all responses will have to be placed in envelopes addressed to the Council if they are to be counted. As Michael has said, TDC is not making it easy for people to express their views on this matter.

  7. I have lived in this area for the last 8 years and considered the noise from the airport prior to buying my property, I then considered it negligable, the traffic through the airport has gone down since then so I don't see what all the fuss is about. Consider the employment that could come from more flights, not just at the airport, but locally as well. I know they are only talking about 2 flights a night ( and not every night)but it would still create employment

  8. I like your thinking. There are so many opportunities to create employment: a nuclear power plant at North Foreland; offering to bury nuclear waste in the tunnels under Ramsgate; an incinerator for toxic waste; a new high-security prison or detention centre; a centre for animal-based research;a knacker's yard.....the list is endless. And it can all be justified by saying that it's bound to create some jobs.

    P.S. it isn't 2 flights per night. It's AN AVERAGE of 2 flights during the restricted section of the night-time. No restrictions are proposed for the remainder of the time.

  9. I was in Ramsgate, & I was absolutely appalled to see children being used in this way (giving out ear plugs to passers by). Even TDC wouldn't stoop that low!

  10. I thought it was excellent to involve children in this way, including them in the decision making process of deciding something that effects their future.
    It is good to see children down at the stop animal export rallies as well.

  11. You'd have them working down the mines too if they still existed! Disgusting.

  12. A lot of older people do not have computers and quick ways to keep in touch some do not know what is going on with this night flight problem,so it all seems rather a charade to me,

  13. to anonymous @10:29,

    Presumably you are not in need of a job.

  14. To John Hoyer (retired and lying on a sofa): I have a job and I'd like to keep it and not have it threatened by not having slept the night before, or the night before that... I also want to protect those jobs that depend on people living in and visiting Ramsgate. I also want to protect my kids' education so they can concentrate in the classroom. And protect my health. Etc. etc. It's all too easy to bleat "jobs" as if that's a justification to have your quality of life destroyed. And there won't be any jobs - the airport is operating under capacity and can handle a significant increase in freight without employing any additional staff. The independent report states as much. Manston's using underhand methods to mis-inform people about the perceived economic benefits and get them to respond to them during the consultation. Meanwhile it seems they're minimising their investment and driving away the business they already had (Flybe).

  15. I used to live near Stansted airport, which creates jobs for hotels, resturants, gift shops, buses, taxis, railways... You anti-Airport lot aren't looking at the bigger picture when it comes to employment created by a busy airport.

  16. This ain't no Stansted.

  17. John

    I usually agree with your postings but this one was pretty vacuous. I have a job, and people's lives depend on me doing it to the best of my ability. If I fall asleep at work people die, simples.


    Even the airport have conceded that most of the traffic will be freight. Not much call for hotels, hire car outlets etc if you're a banana. Manston will never be a major passenger airport unless fish suddenly develop a need to fly. (Surrounded on three sides by sea; very limited catchment area.)

  18. 2:13 How do you equate legitimate protest, with exploitation of child labour.
    If parents are undertaking legitimate protest is seems eminently sensible to make sure they are looking after their children at the same time.

  19. In Ramsgate, most of the night time noise is caused by yobbish people in the street. And then the sound of police sirens that can drone on and on.

    Then we have seagulls at all hours, especially during the summer months.

    The idea that people`s lives could be "ruined" or "destroyed" by a few passing aeroplanes is silly.

    Actually, I live in an old building that is home to many pigeons. The whooop, whooop sound can drone on too. Better park that old green bus outside.


  20. Oh such nonsense is spouted by the No To Night Flights fraternity. I grew up here when Thunder Jets of the USAF flew low level over Thanet constantly. I went to school at the time in Ramsgate right under the flight path.

    I never lost any sleep nor had my education disturbed because of aircraft noise. When I left school I got a job in Thanet because then we had some.

    Gradually the Nimby folk of this isle and the greater UK are driving away every employment opportunity. It will all end in tears but mainly for our unfortunate youngsters who have such a selfish shower as their older generations.

  21. We are told that there could be up 15 night flights a year - Oh the horror of it. Something must be done.

  22. I used to spend nights at Hatton Cross which is located at the end of the LHR runways. However, the nights were quiet. My sleep was not disturbed. I am unaware of any deaths related to key personnel being deprived of sleep.

  23. To anonymous at 17:11

    You say, "I have a job and I'd like to keep it and not have it threatened by not having slept the night before, or the night before that.."

    I served in the RAF, sometimes on night flying stations. What you say sounds plausible but it does not stand up to examination.

  24. John, precisely what examination does it not stand up to? The fact you've been to Hatton Cross and served in the RAF isn't that rigorous. Not sure where you get 15 flights a year from - we get that already from the 'late' arrivals and departures of scheduled cargo flights. What they want is unlimited scheduled flights between 11pm - 11.30pm, and from 6am - 7am, plus an average of 2 between those periods. And these will be the old jumbos that currently fly over during the day - which I think I'm right in saying aren't allowed to take off at night at LHR because they're too noisy. Added to which if they exceed these quotas TDC can't to a thing. How can than not be a concern to every resident of Ramsgate even if the prospect of jobs was a reality? The fact that these jobs figures have been disputed by the recent independent report must surely force people to ask questions about what they're being asked to sacrifice for the sake of Infratil's profit margin.

    It would appear that the residents at Hatton Cross don't share your view when they went to The European Court of Human Rights in 2003, to complain about a new night flights scheme.

    The World Health Organisation recommends night noise should be limited to 40 decibels, the sound of a vacuum cleaner. But some residents have recorded up to 90 decibels as planes fly over their homes. If you sleep less than 6 hours a night and have disturbed sleep there's a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance
    of developing or dying from a stroke.

    There's plenty of information out there if you'd take the time to read around the issues. The issues surrounding this aren't clear-cut, plus there's the whole can of worms over planning. I wouldn't pretend to know what the answers are but I've read and heard enough to realise that Infratil's motives are questionable and the impact on this area and Ramsgate in particular are horrendous, and it winds me up when pro-night flight commentators serve up banalities about Thunderjets and Nimbies without knowing the issues at stake. I'm also happy for the airport to succeed but not at any price.

  25. You can't argue with these people. They lack the perspective required to weigh up the evidence because they have pre-judged the issue.

    How many times have we heard the nonsense about the American jets and the claim that nobody complained back then? I went to the trouble of going to Margate library and trawling the microfiched back-issues of the IoT Gazette. It emerged that people DID complain about the noise of the American jets. In fact, an official delegation was sent to Downing Street to complain directly to the Prime Minister. Shortly after this the Americans departed.

    As for the notion that people living near Heathrow don't complain about the noise, do me a favour. Thousands of people complain about the noise and there is a coalition of local Councils opposing a third runway for precisely this reason. In relation to night-flights the Heathrow, protesters have won a significant legal battle in the European court recognising that they have a right to sleep. To win this court case they had to present substantive evidence of sleep disturbance.

    You can't keep saying that night-flights won't wake people up in the face of such evidence. It is nothing more than wilful and mischievous ignorance.

  26. The arguments against Manston are too angry and passionate for reasoned argument. At least for any argument that I would wish to pursue.

    The reality is that if any company considers Manston to a viable business venture then Manston will grow - night flights and all.

    In my experience albeit limited the residents of Hatton Cross are proud of LHR which they consider to be theirs.

    Yes, I do know about the third runway.

    I mentioned the RAF and LHR in the context of the specious argument that sleep deprived key workers will cause the death of others.

    And I will have anonymous at 5:11 know that I have done some of my best work lying on a couch.

  27. John, your opening comments don't come from someone looking to pursue reasoned debate:
    'Presumably you are not in need of a job.'
    '15 night flights a year - Oh the horror of it.'
    They were only going to elicit an angry and passionate response, but it seems that gives you a get-out for offering any facts as to why night flights specifically will generate jobs, and why that outweighs all the proven negatives. And I fear you've missed the point regarding sleep deprivation and the associated health concerns.

    Seems a shame that from a post about an event where there was lots of open discussion about the issues, the only comments you get here from pro-night flight supporters is about child exploitation, Thunderjets and Nimbyism. Ho hum.

  28. And even putting aside sleep deprivation, health and other such concerns there is a serious legal problem which may ultimately involve TDC in expensive court action and possible fines. And where does the money come from? Not Bob Bayford or Clive Hart's back pocket but from you and me.
    Have a look at
    Yes it's on a site dedicated to objecting to night flights, but just read it, preferably with an open mind,and then decide if you want to end up paying for the TDC legal bill.

  29. In my opinion, there's going to be a legal bill, whichever way it goes. Either, TDC fails to act, and is taken to court by local residents; or TDC takes legal action against Infratil to stop them. Realistically, I think we can discard the third option, which is that Infratil adopts a good neighbour policy and scraps its plans. If I were the Council's legal team I would be evaluating the two main options to see which one they are most likely to win.

    There are those who will wail about the money and accuse protesters of spending money that could be spent on something more positive and creative. But, the current situation is not of the protesters' making. It is a situation created by TDC after more than ten years of doing nothing, either to develop a proper planning framework for the airport, or to renegotiate the Section 106. It's time to draw a line in the sand. We can't go on like this.

  30. Is it me or is this subject just too party political to be taken seriously.

  31. You really want to put more ice in it John. Your input on this post shows that you have not really paid a great deal of attention to this issue up to now. It isn't a party political issue, more a question of legalities. For someone that generally shows a great balance in his thinking you seem to have gone a little off the rails on this one.
    8:06 there is another route which is that TDC call this into Planning on the grounds that there has not been an EIA and also at the original Judicial Review TDC agreed that night flights would call for such a measure. The history of all this is very complicated but it looks increasingly likely that the only legal commercial activity at Manston is that covered by the original S52 agreement when the MoD disposed of the airfield; and that agreement effectively only covers the parking aprons and taxi ways.

  32. Tim Clark,

    You say, "You really want to put more ice in it John." It is pointless and gratuitous remarks like this that can discredit your argument in my view. But never mind, I suppose you meant it in good part and I take it so.

    It is the case that I usually take against protest movements automatically. In my experience they are rarely what they purport to be and often have some other agenda lurking beneath. For example: I walked with the anti Iraq war protest up Whitehall. I believed they had a point. I left when they set fire to a shop by Northumberland Avenue. There have been other instances over the years. All of which has taught me that protest movements should be treated with caution and tested rigorously.

    I am sure that the probity of 'Say No To Manston' cannot be doubted.

    I shall now retire pondering whether or not to put ice in my Ovaltine.

  33. John Holyer, I believe you may be referring to a comment I made when you sat ' 15 flights a year, oh the horror of it' I thought I had made this point clearly but it seems not clear enough so here goes

    IF Manston had the same level playing field it says it wants/needs and had the nights flights in proportion to day flights that Heathrow has, this would mean only 15 flights a year. But they haven't asked for that, that's the whole point. Instead, due to their redefinition of night they are asking for unrestricted flights. It is really important that everyone understands this. Don't believe me, please go and read the application.

    You complain about protest groups. I guess the ant-slavery groups were annoying extremists, the Suffragists, irritatin fools, the anti-child labour groups, ridiculous utopians and the Chartists a bunch of ignorant working class troublemakers? Just to mention a few from the UK's own glorious past of protest groups. Change is brought about by people coming together, thinking through the issues, taking a position and making a stand.

    If any believes that night flights would create jobs I would urge them to read the independent report by Parsons Brinckerhoff available on TDCs website. Unless people read some of the evidence surrounding this issue before arriving at a decision, we really are in the realms of ' I reckon' pub talk that carries no weight whatsoever. Please refer me to evidence that supports any pro night flights claims. By evidence, I mean independent reports, statistics etc.

    Saying that there is zero unemployment at Stansted etc just isn't pertinent. This is how Manston wants to confuse the issue. Let's consider - Ryanair employs 100 per million passengers. So, best case scenario (jobs wise) - Manston attracts 6 million passengers and creates ,600 jobs. Why hasn't it done so ? Why, during the budget aviation boom times has it not been able to? Because as Ryanair, Easyjet and now Flybe have all worked out, an airport surrounded on 3 sides cannot attract that number of people. So they want to attract freight, which is largely and increasingly automated.

    And, let's not forget, they have provided no evidence that allowing night flights will attract any airline. Let them fill their daytime slots, prove it can be a thriving airport - say, like the many airports in the Uk that are successful WITHOUT night flights.

  34. Have you read the actual comments posted by John Holyer? Utter twaddle! Hilarious irony. The man's profile says he is in 'government'!!!! His comments are complete nonsense with almost no point to his argument whatsoever....and when challenged with facts by people that actually know what they are talking about, his counter comments are that of someone shrinking into submission without actually admitting defeat. Where do we get these ridiculous individuals from? Bless him.

  35. Thank you for the clarification on the proposed number of night flights.

    Your para 3 where you list several historical movements: if you read my post you will see that I say, "in my experience". Clearly I have no experience of the groups you list for the obvious reason that I was not born at the time. However, I do have practical experience of many modern protest groups, front organisations and their like. My knowledge does not derive from the media. It is reliable. You can accept this or not as you will.

  36. Anonymous said...
    "Have you read the actual comments posted by John Holyer? Utter twaddle! Hilarious irony. The man's profile says he is in 'government'!!!! His comments are complete nonsense with almost no point to his argument whatsoever....and when challenged with facts by people that actually know what they are talking about, his counter comments are that of someone shrinking into submission without actually admitting defeat. Where do we get these ridiculous individuals from? Bless him."

    February 28, 2012 8:31 AM

    My word, you are angry, exclamations marks and all. Yours is a particularly venomous post. Which I suggest says more about you than it does about me. Perhaps this explains why you are anonymous.

    However, I can appreciate why you are so peeved. After all, it must be frustrating when someone has the temerity to disagree with you.

    You attack my profile ignoring the fact that you lack the courage to produce one of your own.

  37. John
    You are in danger of biting back which is at variance with your usual well thought out views. If you had read all the available material on this subject then you would know that the 15 figure was extrapolated for Manston using the ratio of day to night flights that presently exists at Heathrow. It's a figure that has been widely circulated and is familiar to all who have taken an interest. However Manston wants a much larger number of night flights than Heathrow has now (not hard when you consider the no flights period in force overnight at LHR) and in fact wants to be the only commercial airport in UK with no night flight restrictions. Remember that under the present S106 all Infratil have to do is submit a proposal; they don't need TDC approval. So once they've established the average 2 flights they can then go back with further proposals which TDC can do nothing about.
    This is a large chunk of east Kent effectively operating outside local authority control. The present S106 is worthless and for that reason TDC need to call this into Planning to ensure that we get a proper and effective document. I urge you to read the well written post that I linked to earlier.
    You are right when you say that bar room I reckon opinion is valueless. Go and find out for yourself and then return here.
    And incidentally I, like Michael, have no idea what you would do with the space if it wasn't an airfield so I generally support it. I'm not dozy enough to think that it will ever be the jobs panacea for Thanet - the real answer there is to encourage new business into the area, which hopefully the HS1 and improved roads will do.

  38. Tim, Thank you once again for this clarification. I take your point.

  39. Thanks John. You have frequently referred to local government incompetence. The present S106 is a classic example of this.
    I, like Michael, don't think that we are being told the whole story by Infratil. Some of the people contributing to the No Night Flights blog are, or seem to be very well placed to reveal information that Infratil didn't want exposed. I'm sure you would be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. The contributors certainly seem to be putting up a better case than Gerry O'Donnell, Frank Thorley and the others who have expressed views in the IoTG.
    And then you have to ask yourself; since Infratil know that the S106 already allows them to do pretty much what they like why have they not already done so? Maybe because they know that their legal status is dodgy.

  40. Manston's own figures, as supplied in bid to regional growth fund, was that 3/4 million passengers would only create 23 jobs! Still jobs but how many well paid people would leave the area, taking their spending elsewhere and thus making Thanet even more impoverished.

  41. Tim,

    I agree that something has to be done with Manston. It is an asset. I suggest that there is already sufficient vacant space in our existing industrial and retail parks. Similarly, we have no need for more housing. Consequently, it makes sense to develop the airport. I agree that aircraft movements particularly at night must be controlled by law and set at a level that is fair to both sides. Aeroplanes continue to get quieter in their design.

    I have my doubts as whether TDC is up to this task. I sincerely hope they will prove me wrong.

    This has been my view from the outset. It is just the case that the self indulgent screeching and shouting of some protesters irritates me.

  42. Tim,

    I would be content for Manston to stay as it is. But I realise this cannot be. Something has to be done, if not a profitable airport then what?

    I add that I do not want Manston to become a charge on public funds. Which would be the worst possible solution.

  43. Slightly off-topic, but does anyone have any old maps (or photos?) of Manston before the airport was built? I've often wondered if the so-called "High Street" used to continue further prior to 1916.

  44. "I would be content for Manston to stay as it is. But I realise this cannot be. Something has to be done, if not a profitable airport then what?"

    This is a good point. It illustrates that decisions have to be made. The airport has been in private hands for more than ten years and has made a whopping loss in every one of those years.

    We are now told that authorising a few night-flights will guarantee the airport's future and create thousands of jobs. If this were true I could see how people might be tempted to vote in favour. Unfortunately, anybody who looks, disspationately, at the evidence will conclude otherwise.

    For a start, there is no way that the income from a handful of night-flights will come anywhere near the figure needed to get the airport to a break-even point. And as Buchanan has admitted that this is about freight, the handful of night-flights is not going to create any significant number of jobs.

    In an earlier posting John Holyer blathered on about protest groups he had known and their secret agendas. I can't imagine what secret agenda he could ascribe to the No Night Flights group. It would seem to do what it says on the tin. On the other hand I can think of several secret agendas which Infratil might be pursuing, top of the list being, selling the airport.

    The airfield could provide a valuable site and could be instrumental in the regeneration of Thanet. It isn't difficult to come up with a model for what could be done there. Just look around the country at other redundant airfields, many of which are now mixed residential and business parks.

    The trouble is that you can't do anything else with the airfield until they take the decision to close it. When Infratil bought it they said they would break even in 2009. We are heading into 2012 and they still aren't anywhere near break-even. They won't keep paying the bills for a loss-making venture, irrespective of how many people sign up to a silly web-site.

    Face it. We might be significantly better off if the airport closed and might have been significantly better off if it had closed ten years ago. As it stands, Wiggins and Infratil have spent millions of pounds and have created nothing of any value whatsoever. That is not what we were promised.

  45. To anonymous at 9:52,
    You say, "John Holyer blathered..."
    You cannot resist being rude albeit gratuitously. Your bumptiousness is the reason why I take against protesters such as you.

  46. Great news for airport fans. It was reported on the BBC that animal rights protesters have forced various airlines and airports to stop importing animals for research. Surely this is a great opportunity for Manston and might create some much-needed jobs. No doubt there will be a few NIMBYs who are happy to take prescription medicines but don't want cute monkeys and doe-eyed beagles transported to their local airport. However, I suspect that the great majority of Thanet who are in favour of airport expansion will want to encourage the airport operators to take advantage of this great opportunity. I assume the new B.I.P. was constructed for the purpose of checking shipments of live animals. It's hard to see any downsides.

    1. Try telling that to the animals!

  47. how about the people in herne bay when the winds from the east im under the flight path
    hearing noise plains no other airport wants
    and as for jobs how many people does it take to unload a cargo plane with moden teck
    not many


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