A busy day in a busy week for me and with the school day just finished I have submitted my response to the night flights consultation, all responses have to be submitted by the end of today which gives you about eight hours if you want to respond.
On this one I see the council as being in negotiation with the airport and what the airport is asking for I consider to be unreasonable. I have looked for and not seen any sensible argument supporting the airports position so I have responded against it.
I have considerable reservations that what the airport is asking for would actually be beneficial to airport employees, or those like me who are broadly supportive of the airport.
So below is my response, which I don’t suppose will please either the anti or pro night flights lobby that much.
Night Flights Consultation Response
I should like to object to both to allowing night flights and the reduction of the length of the nighttime period as proposed by the airport.
My main grounds for this objection is that any increase in night flights has a cost in terms of the resultant disruption to sleep, which is likely to cause damage to other parts of the local economy, particularly tourism and housing and that what the airport are asking for has no related scale of offsetting any benefits.
The terms of any night flying agreement must ensure a reasonable increase in the local economy due to having a prosperous airport. Aviation related jobs, tourism related to having a thriving airport.
It is therefore important that any future agreement between the council and the airport that increases the airports environmental impact ensures there is payback in terms of airport expansion and jobs.
The main weakness in what the airport is asking for is that there is no relationship between any of the extra nighttime activity and actual daytime activity and the resultant economic benefits.
Were the worst aspects of what the airport are asking for to be implemented in isolation this would result in about two disruptive flights per night, producing overtime for eight daytime employees, at the very best providing two or three extra jobs.
Obviously the council’s remit here should be both to protect the environment of local people and support the expansion of local businesses including the airport in a way that best improves the local economy, while striving to achieve the best possible environment, for local people and visitors.
The airport base their nighttime flying requirements on Manston becoming a major airport and not a small regional airport and are therefore asking for an amount of noise disruption, that is either roughly similar to or in excess of that allowed by the other major airports in southern England, Gatwick and Heathrow. The difference however is that while Gatwick and Heathrow are major contributors to the economy of their surrounding areas Manston is not.
I would suggest that any increase in night movements of aircraft is related to the amount of actual day movements achieved by Manston Airport, with an added factor for expansion.
Perhaps if Manston were allowed approximately double the proportion of night to day flights that Gatwick and Heathrow are allowed, tapering down to an equal amount when and if the expansion the operator expects occurs, this would allow them a more favorable economic climate, while ensuring the environmental negatives were compensated for by economic benefits to the local community.
Within the documentation there are differences between the consulted experts opinions about the actual noise levels, in layman’s terms this appears to equate the airport’s experts saying that the night flights they want would cause minimal disruption to sleep and the council’s experts saying the disruption would be considerable.
From the public consultation point of view it isn’t possible to form a proper opinion about this, because of the disagreement between experts.
People locally have very little actual experience of aircraft noise caused by a significant and regular volume of passenger and freight traffic, as this hasn’t occurred at the airport during the last 45 years, in fact since Air Ferry went into administration.
Operation at the airport has been sporadic making it very difficult to ascertain what the sound would actually be like at night, occasional aircraft movements late in the evening early in the morning, combined with the occasional night movement suggest that what the airport are asking for would be disruptive.
As it would seem likely that this issue will go to further public consultation, when the council has consolidated its legal advice and the issue either becomes a planning application or revised 106 agreement.
It would be helpful to the public to have access to information about planes actually flying, how the fit into the quota count and if particularly noisy if they would be allowed to fly at night.
To expand on this, if a plane overflies Ramsgate landing or taking off from Manston, at the moment, people have no obvious way of telling what it is, although this is the only way they can tell how loud it is.
If the council or the airport were to publish the information about recent flights, on one of their websites then local people could make much more informed feedback.
There is also the added factor that Ramsgate is particularly unsuitable for high levels of night time aircraft noise due to the high concentration of listed buildings, my understanding that these would either be very expensive or impossible to effectively insulate against noise.
Were the council to consider allowing night flights I would hope that they would commission a report into how this problem could be solved.
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