Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Kent International Airport at Manston, safety issues.

Over on Thanet Life Blog local councillor and aviator Simon Moores is engaged in a dialogue about the chances of a plane crash landing in Ramsgate, see http://birchington.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/winging-it.html this seems to revolve around something like winning the lottery, a game of chance with very long odds.

I guess most of us who live in Ramsgate have seen an aeroplane very low over the town and not behaving completely conventionally, something that the untrained eye would construe an a near miss, but to the expert eye is probably well with in the bounds of safety.   

One way or another it is difficult to avoid some degree of awareness that Ramsgate is a town at the end of the runway and this does involve some element of risk, although quantifying that risk isn’t straightforward.

Obviously the risk of a plane crashing on part of Ramsgate varies dependent on a number of factors, the most obvious one being the number of flights, in the same way that the chances of winning the lottery relates to the number of tickets you buy.

Then there is the guidance equipment, radar and other gadgets, at Manston this has a sort of rather vague and rather bumpy recent history, what the standard of this equipment is at Manston now compared to the standards at the major airports that are being used for comparison, is something that I have lost track of.

There are of course the risks involved with various sorts of pollution, the most prominent recently being night time noise, how this would link to local educational achievement, what sort of amounts of sleep we would lose and how we would function with less sleep.      

My interest in the safety issues at Manston though stems from my concerns about our water supply, this is because the airport sits on top of the local underground drinking water reservoir.

In simple terms, the rain landing at Manston soaks into the ground, and not far under the surface this ground is chalk and this chalk acts like a great big sponge, which stores millions of gallons of water.

At this point Queen Victoria enters the story, history often pops up and often people wish it wouldn’t, in 1835 when the water in Ramsgate was pumped from under the town and most of the town’s sewage soaked into the ground, Victoria contracted a nasty disease here.

I suppose that that the greatest health improvements made by the Victorians related to drainage and drinking water, in simple terms moving the well away from the privy, and during the mid 1800s a sewer was put in here in Ramsgate also a water supply was dug under Manston, the pink bit on the map.
 What they did was to dig a well connected to a tunnel under the chalk which collected the water that was pumped into a large tank on top of a tower, pipes from this tank lead to the taps in people’s homes. 

As you can see from the map the tunnel follows the line of the main runway and is still one of the main sources of our water supply here in Thanet. A supply of water here in the southeast is a difficult thing to maintain and without vast expense we are likely to be reliant on this source for the foreseeable future.

Anyway for some time now I have been making a fuss about the protection of our water supply, funny bit next, some time ago I requested some documents about the local water supply form the council, and one of the ones they sent me had been copied from where I had published it on the internet previously, this made me chuckle and I wondered who else they had sent it to with all my links to the documents included, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/drink/id39.htm

Anyway the airport, council and environment agency behaved very responsibly about the drainage issues at the airport, held a public consultation, which I responded to, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/fish-chips-and-antifreeze-manston.html and http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/kent-international-airport-drainage.html well you know me there will be loads of it, mostly boring unless you drink the tap water here in Thanet, or worse than that pay the water bill. If you don’t fall into this bracket I would stop reading now.

The net result of all this was that the airport, environment agency, council and other interested parties thrashed out a plan to protect our drinking water supply, which unless there was some sort of unlikely aviation accident, resulting in a large fuel spillage on the green part of the airport, protected the local water supply quite well.

There was of course one big snag, isn’t there always, this was the airport had to pay for some fairly expensive pluming modifications, fortunately the owners Infratil are a very wealthy and very large company “down Under” so they said “no worries mate” “we won’t pee in your swimming pool if you don’t swim in our toilet” in fact all of the things one would expect and hope for.

Anyway now those nice people at Infratil have said that they don’t want to spend the money because they are selling the airport, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/kent-international-airport-at-manston.html so they will be providing a new plan, which won’t be so good, or so expensive. Something along the lines of we will only pee on your pool a little bit, but we don’t mind if you take the occasional dip in our toilet, I think.               

33 comments:

  1. 'strewth mate' its worse than that - they have withdrawn the consent to discharge. Are the buggers letting the new owners deal with a new application? I am sure the EU Habitat regulations are being flouted here, or is this yet another airport flight of fancy?

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    1. I think you might have to expand on this a bit. The only consent I'm aware of is waste water into Pegwell Bay via the interceptor and I'm not even sure if that was ever granted by the EA; the last I remember was an article by Saul Leese in Airport Watch in January 2011 saying that a decsion would be announced in February. Maybe Michael will know more.

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    2. OK, I've found the reference, care of Michael (as usual) Sorry, I don't know how to do the hyperlink stuff.

      http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/kent-international-airport-at-manston.html

      As it says, the EP application was withdrawn in March 2012. So much for "decision to be announced in February 2011". So, as far as I can see, there is still no proper protection for most of our drinking water.

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  2. Tie me wangaroo up, sport,
    No discharge consent sounds a bit harsh mate.

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  3. Very perceptive of Michael to know the content of the plan before it's written. Did they actually say it won't be so good?

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  4. Infratil have said that they don't want to spend the money
    Infratil have submitted a new plan

    It therefore stands to reason that the new Infratil plan is likely to be less good than the original; if it weren't they would have used it in the first place because it's cheaper and no-one wants to spend more than they have to.

    Do try and keep up, there's a good chap.

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    1. With respect Tim I think it’s you who should try and keep up with the real world rather than Michael’s world. Why does it stand to reason that the plan is likely to be less good? At least you have said it is “likely” to be less good whereas Michael said it “won’t be so good”.

      Have you considered the possibility of a better plan costing less? In case you hadn’t noticed, you’re most likely using a computer that once would have had far less power and would have cost many thousands of pounds - until someone found a way of making it better for much less money.

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  5. 7.39 So they have.

    8.11 Please not – if you continue in vein - the verse of Tie Me Kangaroo………that was removed on pc grounds.

    8.34 This is what the Environment Agency have to say:

    “Clearly, this is disappointing for us as a regulator, Infratil and the local community but I'm sure you will understand that global trading conditions for the aviation industry have changed dramatically since our original consultation period began.”

    I think we can assume the “Clearly, this is disappointing” suggests it won’t be so good.

    Tim we seem to be in agreement on this one, just let’s hope it was a chap and not a chapess or I will be before the blog warden.

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    1. Michael. Chap - intended to be gender-neutral of course

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    2. One other thought on this. The EA origibnally announced in January 2011 that the consultation period had been extended until 28th February 2011. Something must have happened then because there is stony silence until March 2012 when the application is withdrawn. Somebody kinew something.

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    3. Tim living in a household where I am outnumbered by the female of the species I can assure you that the younger members resent being referred to as chaps.

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    4. Michael. Me as well. Only the rabbit and I are not distaff!

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    5. Don’t have any animals although the neighbours cat lives outside the back door and wishes to move in, as it has recently increased in girth at a rate beyond anything cat food could achieve I am assuming the it is not a chap and soon there will be kittens.

      I have to admit I am not very keen on the airport’s desire to reduce environmental safety standards in order to cut costs. The thought of having an airport that puts safety second is not a happy one.

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    6. It has ever been thus - at least during the Infratil era

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  6. A local business man with a book shop also runs a blog, often attracting contentious comment. Whilst proclaiming an apolitical stance, said businessman often shows a left wing bias and even announced he would probably vote for Dave Green, thus driving away many of his Tory customers. He then pops up in various places supporting the debate for gay marriage thus driving away many of his religious customers.

    Not content with all that, he continually attacks anything that might bring more business into the area, like a good regional airport, and he sets back up market developments by years with his scaremongering. He wastes council officers time with endless FOI enquiries thus using up public money that could be spent more usefully elsewhere.

    Really do not think Lord Sugar would want him as an apprentice and it might be best if he went back to being a monk, prefereably in a silent non blogging order. Mind you, he does have a good selection of old photos.

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  7. Thanet will always the have the potential to be a great place to live, work and thrive.

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    1. John, whilst work probably no longer greatly concerns you and I for ouselves, it is pretty grim for those of working age in Thanet, thus making the thriving bit hard to achieve. Great place to live, yes, up to a point, but the areas of social deprivation detract from that, more so in some wards than others. Hence, whilst your statement might have had more truth say fifty years ago, and even then it was join the navy and see the world lad, things are not so good today. That is why it so saddens me that every project for the old place from the airport to the Turner seems to always hit a barrage of protest.

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    2. Sorry Tom, I was trying to be clever - a mistake. The key word is 'always'. Which is my point.

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    3. See what you mean and, of course, the potential has always been there. Just never seem to have the leaders to realise it, for they are always too busy courting the Nimbys.

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  8. Standard Thanet response when losing an argument - cowardly and anonymous personal abuse. So antifreeze leaking into our water supply from the airport (a major EA concern) is not worthy of comment?

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  9. Tim, I am usually with you, or at least close, but who exactly is losing an argument with who here. Seems to me there are several diverse threads going at once and anti-freeze is just part of the greater picture. Maybe I am wrong, but Michael seems to have kicked this one off from an item over on Thanet Life about a crash at Stansted which, according to Readit, would have been on the town if it happened at Manston. All a bit hypothetical for me, for one might as well argue that if a meteorite just missed Broadstairs it might hit Ramsgate.

    See also you call someone cowardly for posting anonymously. What really is the difference between that and the likes of you and I who use names on google accounts. Are we anymore public other than you can follow our thread and, even then, the odd troll accuses us of being one and the same person. It is but the world of blogging and as long as you are not Driver, Worrow or Christine, why worry.

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    1. Tom, you and I are identifiable. My grouch with A Nonny Mouse is that there is no way of following a thread. It makes for a confusing conversation. Mr (or Mrs, or Miss, or Ms) A Nonny Mouse in this blog is the one with the personal insults, not you.
      You and I are always going to disagree over Manston. When I bought my house there was a S52 agreement which specifically banned night flights. Now everyone has conveniently lost it. With tonight's news from Birchington, and remembering that in his Conservative days he was a leading light of the Manston Airport Group, you'll forgive me if I smell some form of rodent.

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    2. Tim, Tom, I think the aircraft crash business on Simon’s blog got a bit confused, there was an air accident that would have probably caused a crash on Ramsgate, this involved a double engine failure: British Airways Flight 38 (call sign Speedbird 38) London Heathrow Airport, on 17 January 2008.

      Simon produces some perceptive posts and they often inspire my posts.

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  10. Tom and 11.25 sorry about the funny time stamp, I have given the Thanet regeneration problem some thought and have come to the conclusion that much of the problem is one of dated ideas rather than political affiliation. After all I believe I voted for one candidate from each party, Lab, Con and Ind and publicised the fact so I should have alienated everyone.

    Some of the local issues I have posted about here: China Gateway where the initial intention was for companies to process their own industrial and human waste and pour the results into the drinking water supply. Bathing water where the water company knows when it has discharges sewage into the sea but poor communication means that the council continues to fly blue flags due to poor communication. Airport where encouragement tof lax environmental control seems to viewed as a way to encourage employment. Royal Sands on a high risk flood zone with no flood risk assessment. The list is a long one and I won’t put it all here. Yes perhaps on the surface publicising these issues could be construed as being negative in attracting investment.

    I think the assumption here is that any worthwhile company looking to locate in Thanet would have less facilities available to them than I have to investigater these issues.

    I think now in the age we live in one of the highest priorities for a worthwhile company would be the welfare of their employees and a rather dated attitude that offering companies lax environmental standards would some how make them want to locate here, is just plain wrong. Further to this the business of trying to conceal local problems by secret meetings and threats that it will discourage investment is more likely to suggest to potential investors that things are much worse than they are

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  11. Michael, thanks for responding to me, but I am not really in this one. I know too little about it and was only picking up on a comment each by John and Tim. Whilst I do deplore the constant negativity that seems to surface on every project for Thanet, I am willing to accept that you go much deeper into the research issues than I. Having drunk surgical spirit and glycerine when running out of booze at a party at the BMH Nicosia, I am not sure a bit of anti-freeze would do me much harm.

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    1. It is a long list but you really should add Thor. An ongoing threat to the drinking water supply in the centre of the Island

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    2. Tom, I was on Akrotiri 62-64. My girlfriend and I used to hide in the canteen at Zevgari but we only drank tea or coffee.

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    3. Like I said before, John, you are a mere sprog. I was a Redcap in Nicosia, aid to the civil power and all that, during the EOKA emergency years, 56-59. Mind you, hiding in the canteen with your girl friend sounds more pleasurable than riot control in Metexus Square.

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  12. 2006/07 - 24 2006/07 - £13,000 7 flights charged
    2011/12 - 55 (excludes March figure)2011/12 - £ 2,000 2 flights charged

    The above figures show how much tdc collected Environmental Improvement Fund for late night flying, it might help explain while the council accounts are in such a pickle. For some reason they ( is it officers or elected members) have decided that Infratil does not have to pay over £50,000 in the last financial year alone.

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  13. I think you can discount anything Councillor Moores says. People who are involved in aviation are often arrogant and refuse to consider comments from people they consider to be less technically competent than themselves. It's a bit like the civil engineers who deny Michael's right to ask pertinent questions about the cliff-face. But accidents continue to happen, both due to mechanical failure and to human error. It is proven that aircraft are at greatest risk during take-off and landing and, for this reason, there is a defined danger around the ends of runways. You cannot build anything in this zone and this is why they haven't been allowed to build anything beyond Nethercourt or the NHS building behind Tesco. There is a proper mechanism for dealing with all of this. There should be a risk assessment for the airport. You have to ask why those in positions of responsibility have not done this. Were tragedy to strike, criminal charges might ensue.

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    1. Are you not getting your thoughts confused, 12:46. Civil engineers seem to answer Michael's questions even if they must get a bit brassed off at the repetitive nature of them. Likewise, whatever your perceived view of Simon Moores arrogance, those of us who are not pilots must surely accept he has some expertise on the matter.

      Yes, you are right that landing and take off are the most critical times in a flight, but not exclusively so and were we to take risk assessment to the extreme, and in some areas we have, there would be no flights or even space exploration. After all, even space debris falls back from time to time. There would probably also be no electricity, trains, cars, tunnels, buildings, surgery or anything else that might collapse, catch fire, crash, derail or otherwise carry risk to life or limb.

      But please tell us all one thing. How do you know there is no risk assessment for the airport. In all those years since the end of World War I, nobody has ever done a risk assessment or do you mean you just want a new one that says planes can crash and therefore the airport should close.

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  14. The airport didn't have a risk assessment when it was owned by the MoD because the MoD had crown immunity. When it was privatised the council pledged that not one penny of concil taxpayers' money would be spent on it. The airport operators certainly weren't going to do a risk assessment unless they were forced to do one and so, a risk assessment was never done. I know this to be true because I have spoken to people who have asked for information that would be included on a risk assessment (e.g. how well the emergency services would be able to cope with mass casualties). I'm not pre-judging what the risk assessment would conclude. I'm just saying that it ought to be done.

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  15. Strange then that from time to time they have had emergency exercises to test response and facilities available in such an eventuality. I know that because I have taken part in one.

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