Friday, 2 March 2012

Night Flights Consultation Response.

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.

Please send me a confirmation that you have received this email.    


  1. Reads like a well-considered response based on the information that's currently out in the public domain.

  2. Balanced and succinctly put, Michael

  3. Ramsgate_ResidentMarch 02, 2012 5:43 pm

    TDC have actual readings on the level of noise over Ramsgate.

    After many years of complaining several months ago a noise monitor was sited on my roof, central harbour ward. Planes rated as QC2 registered at 100db and 100.5db at 3:30am and 4:30am respectively.

    I have no idea why this information is not being published and/or why the airports sound contours are not being challenged by TDC.

    The airport submission is based upon dubious theoretical noise assumptions clearly designed to understate the level of noise that is actually generated.

  4. I'm shocked if noise levels as high as this are being recorded and the Council has not seen fit to inform people about it in the course of the consultation. The noise levels you are describing are very high indeed. If these are just the QC2 aircraft there is a very grave problem. Noise is transmitted by vobration of molecules in the air. This vibration is transmitted to solids. The high noise levels you describe could be causing damage to historic buildings.

  5. Absolutely shocking that this sort of information was not made available by thanet district council prior to the consultation. I hope elected members will be holding the chief executive to account over this. A very shoddy performance by tdc.

  6. Well why don't you contact elected members and ask them instead of just writing anonymous messages?

  7. Ramsgate_ResidentMarch 03, 2012 7:51 am

    01:36AM, already done. Email to Clive Hart:-

    I'm struggling to understand how it is that we are at the end of a night time flying consultation and yet the council has not published any actual noise data from flights that come across Ramsgate.

    After years of complaining a council noise monitor was put on the roof of my house several months ago. I have been provided with readings from this noise monitor and the results are quite shocking, yet not unexpected, as I have been complaining about this for years. From the readings it is clear that the airport has submitted false information to TDC in respect of their application for night flights, yet this has not been challenged or contested. The council has in its possession very accurate noise readings, as set out below, why is it not using this information?

    I would like confirmation that all councillors will be provided these noise readings so that they are aware of the level of noise that residents will be exposed, how else are they supposed to make a decision? If they are going to make a decision that will impact peoples health they should do it based on facts not fiction.

    I would like confirmation that the information will be published on the councils web site so that members of public are aware of the level of noise rather that they are exposed to. I would also like to know what assessment the environmental health officers have made and the results of any impact analysis.


    > The plane was a delayed MD 11 World Airways flight with a QC rating of 2 so therefore is not subject to a fine under the S106 agreement.
    > The readings taken for the 24 second event at 03.29 on 09/12/11 are as follows -
    > Lmax (dB) 92.6
    > SEL (dB) 100
    > Leq (dB) 86.0

    The readings taken for the 21 second event at 04.31 on 21/12/11 are as follows -
    Lmax (dB) 94
    SEL (dB) 100.5
    Leq (dB) 87.2

  8. I think these are grounds for a public inquiry. If the noise levels have not been recorded properly since Infratil took over the airport the council should have to explain why it has failed to properly enforce the Section 106.What is Laura Sandys doing about this?

  9. Thanks John and 4.29

    Ramsgate Resident and anon et a,l the whole business of noise measurement is not easy to understand, I would guess few of us really know what 100 db sounds like, in the way we would have a rough idea of say temperature, distance or speed.

    RR. Did the flights you mention wake you up?

    Any ideas about how may db you think would be an acceptable noise level at night?

    My understanding is that QC2 should be around 93 - 95.9 db which equates to the readings you got I think the SEL figure that takes the reading up to around 100 is the duration weighted figure, i.e 92 to 94bb becomes about 100 db SEL due to the around 20 sec duration.

    The longer it goes on for the louder it seems or the more likely it is to wake you up.

  10. Airships - that's the answer. I hear they are on the way back as a means of transport. A great way to travel providing you are not in a hurry.

  11. John holyer has suggested that we use Manston for Airships. I am completely against this idea. Please join the protest.

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  15. I am in favour of Airships for Manston.

  16. I do NOT know wast an Airship is but I am AGAINST it on principle!!!!!!!

  17. I agree with anonymous

  18. Ramsgate_ResidentMarch 03, 2012 3:19 pm


    In these instances the noise levels are quite easy to understand, it sounds like a bloody big aircraft flying over your head at the dead of night.

    I am flippant of course but in all seriousness they woke the whole household. I complained to the leader of the council when the incidents occurred - so please, flat earthers, no accusing me of complaining after the fact.

    If you have to go work or to school the next day, it is not good. I guess if you are retired it is not so much of a problem.

    What is clear is whether people have an idea of what 100db sounds like or not, the airport has made a submission that understates the level of noise that people could expect to experience to an extent that could be described as fraudulent.

    I come back to the point of my original post. If a decision is to be made, it should be based on factual information not mis-information.

  19. Another Ramsgate ResidentMarch 03, 2012 4:11 pm

    Ive had readings of over 100db taken in my back garden. I live in Ramsgate Central Harbour. Night flights wake me up. A fraction of TDC's councillors know what it's like to be woken up in the dead of the night on regular occasions by a very loud noise outside.

    I think it would be very useful if 20-30 second loud noise events were held outside councillors homes an unlimited amount of times between 2300-2330 and 0600-0700, and at 3 am and 4am from now until the vote on night flights in May. Surely they need the experience to enables considered vote?

  20. Ah John you mean like the R101 I guess.

    RR and ARR this is helpful, it is very difficult to put together a db level a QC level and actual experience of what the noise was like. The best one can usually achieve is being woken up by a UFO.

    It is one thing talking about a QC2 plane or 100db on a roof, but unless this can be equated to an aircraft flying over your home and waking you up or an aircraft flying over your home and not waking you up, it doesn’t really mean much.

  21. We live in the Grange Road area and record noise levels with a hand held monitor. This involves rushing out into the garden when we hear the plane and so we generally don't get the recording at the peak of noise. Even so, our recordings are nearly always in the 88-100 decibel range.

    There are lots of comparison charts to give people an idea of what that actually means in terms of noise.
    Here's one link:

    Of course, noise at night is experienced in a different way to noise during the day and this factor should also be taken into account.

    The noise levels over Ramsgate are well known. Except to our councillors it seems.

  22. "My understanding is that QC2 should be around 93 - 95.9"

    Hi Michael. The figures for the noise level you would "expect" are taken at a specific distance from the runway and a specific height above the ground (3 miles from the threshold and 1500ft above the grond if my memory serves me correctly). Each individual aircraft is tested before is is certified by the CAA. If an aircraft has new engines fitted it requires re-certififcation. Consequently, you can end up with two aircraft of the same make and model being different quota counts. Aircraft will also make more or less noise depending on how they are loaded and how they are being driven. This is why it is essential that the council properly monitors the actual noise levels, something it has failed to do ever since the airport was privatised.

    When Wiggins owned the airport, the noise monitor was positioned in approximately the correct position (on top of Clarendon School)to give noise readings which could be compared with the certifying data. When Infratl took over, this noise monitor was removed. They now have a noise monitor in the back garden of an employee who lives up at St. Lawrence, but this is not appropriately positioned and so, the readings it gives are irrelevant.

    The chap who is posting may live a lot closer to the runway than Clarendon School. He will be experiencing much higher noise levels you have quoted because those noise levels are for a QC2 aircraft which is 3 miles from the threshold and 1500ft. above the monitor. If you go to Southwood Gardens, the aircraft are 1 mile from the threshold and are often less than 500 feet above the houses. This will generate massive noise levels.

    One of the key objections to the current consultation is that people have not been given accurate information about the noise levels they are likely to experience. The noise level will differ depending on where you live and what types of aircraft are being used. It's no good sayin that the night flights are capped at QC4. This will still generate massive nosie levels over large parts of Ramsgate.

    In my opinion we need to stop trying to copy the London airports and need to have a system whihc is appropriate to Ramsgate. I would suggest an array of monitors to prevent aircraft from banking to avoid them and I woulkd suggest a maximum noise readings (above background) in decibels. I would impose draconian penalties for breaching this limit; draconian enough to deter them from doing it.

  23. Confused of RamsgateMarch 03, 2012 10:22 pm

    Are we saying then that the QC measure that the airport is using is based on the noise generated 3 miles out from Manston at 1500 feet? ie 2 miles out at sea and 5 times the height we experience? or nothing like what is actually experienced in Ramsgate?

  24. Ah Confused, I think the problem here is about understanding the issue before becoming too polarised as anti night flights or pro night flights.

    A starting point for me is trying to equate what the different measurements like QC and db actually mean in terms of noise in Ramsgate and if these figure remain consistent with a given amount of sound.

    In this sort of engineering, the trick is to become confused at a higher level than those who are merely confused.

  25. The figures for the Mobile Noise Monitor were given out at the last KIACC meeting, various Cllrs and Airport luvvies attended that meeting, so why hasn't KIACC put these out along with the other stats and why is TDC being wilfully obstructive about this?

  26. Surely all of the minutes and data for the KIACC meetings is supposed to be placed in local libraries? I'm sure it used to be.

  27. Even more confused of RamsgateMarch 04, 2012 10:08 am

    So does that mean then that the consultants that reviewed the Manston submission were provided with the actual noise data that occurs, or reviewed it based on false information?

    Would they know that they have to go to the library to find this information (if it is there, I doubt it). Would they need a library ticket?

    Can the airport be done for falsifying their application and/or can the council be sued for negligence?

  28. Clarification:

    For aircraft which are landing, the QC noise measurements are taken 2000m from the runway threshold (approximately where Clarendon School is).

    For aircraft which are taking off, the QC noise measurements are taken 6500m from the point at which the aircraft started to roll down the runway (brake release). Manston has a long runway (2752m) but they don't use the whole length of it when taking off, so this measurement point is (should be) somewhere over Southwood.

    Noise measurements can be made using the decibel "A" scale dB(A) because this mimics the range of frequencies perceptible to the human ear. It gives greater weight to frequencies above 1000Hz. The certifying authority (ICAO) specifies using the EPNdB scale, which is similar but with slightly more sophisticated fiddle-factors. If you use a nois monitor and set is to dB(A) you will get a reading which is representative of what a person might hear. Whether it annoys them or not depends on the person.

  29. Ramsgate_ResidentMarch 04, 2012 10:49 am

    Thanks 10:20

    For clarity I live in spitting distance of Clarendon.

    I have a TDC noise monitor on my roof which is where the readings earlier quoted came from. TDC installed the meter, are responsible for its calibration and the gubbins are in a securely locked container so that they cannot be tampered with. The readings can only be accessed by TDC not by me.

    I am not a noise expert, I do not need to be. I have a very simple test, does it wake me up. Yes it does. It is not just loud it shakes the building and rattles windows, in the middle of the night it can be terrifying, especially if you are a young child.

    The db measure is important as it is quantifiable and people understand that 100db at night is not right.

    The important thing here is that the airfield is seriously understating the noise that is generated.

    I have noticed that people who have experienced the noise and have no official information have estimated the noise and quoted db of 80/90. These people have been pilloried in certain quarters as exaggerating and/or making this up, the truth is that they have been using numbers well well below the actual.

  30. I am shocked. I can understand that the airfild has a vested interest in understating the noise. But TDC is supposed to be overseeing this process and ensuring that the noise monitors are properly positioned and calibrated. The suggestion here is that TDC has failed (yet again) to ensure compliance with the Section 106 Agreement.

    This is very serious. If they don't have any credible data about noise levels they can't be in a position to form a view on night-flights. The difference between 90 and 100 decibels isn't 10 decibels. 100 decibels is twice the noise energy of 90 decibels because it's a logarithmic scale. You are talking about the airport reporting noise levels which are half of the actual value!

  31. This interesting:


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