Monday, 28 April 2014

Manston Airport closure issues.

I am posting about this again partly because I have just received an email from Roger Gale’s office saying there will be an adjournment debate about the issue tonight. Partly because there is an online poll about night flights and partly to give my opinion on the subject.

So first here is email from Suzy.

“Please note that Roger has asked me to let you know that he has secured the Adjournment Debate in the House this evening.

The subject is Manston Airport and the debate will START at the end of business in the House - probably any time from 10.00 p.m. this evening if you would like to see it or record it?

The Freeview Channel for Parliament is No. 81 - I am not entirely sure where you find the Parliament Channel on SKY TV.

I hope this is helpful.

With all good wishes.     SUZY
 
SUZY GALE
Office of Sir Roger Gale MP
01843 84858)
galerj@parliament.uk
suzy@galemail.com
www.rogergale.co.uk
www.animalsworldwide.org  ”

Next the night flights poll, here is the link http://savemanstonairport.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/to-night-flight-or-not-to-night-flight/

I have checked it and it is fairly difficult to vote more than once.

So what are my thoughts on saving Manston airport? Well the short answer is that it depends what you are saving.

I am all for a small regional airport that I can fly to useful places from and that employees a reasonable amount of people which enhances the local economy, I would also would have liked to have seen the historic airport side of Manston expanded.


On the night time flying front and particularly as night flights over Ramsgate, or the potential for night flights over Ramsgate have a negative affect on the local economy, my feelings are that any allowance has to be linked to real economic benefits in terms of increased daytime activity. Frankly a few people doing a limited amount of overtime to take a bit of nuisance business that that other airports don’t want is not enough. 

Looking at the issue of Manston becoming a freight air hub, the economic and technical negatives are:

The runway isn’t long enough for some freight aircraft to get of fully loaded. For a fully loaded 747 it would need around another 1,000 feet of runway.

It doesn’t have a fuel pipeline to one of the refineries, so sticking with the 747 analogy it takes over six fuel tankers to fill the tanks of a 747.  

The main thing however is that the freight would mostly be heading for the M25 and it would have to do this in lorries from Manston.


On to the economics that caused the closure threat in the first place. At the moment the airport is losing £10,000 per day and added to this it is subsidised by the UK government to the tune of about £8,000 per day.

Recently the most successful operation there was the KLM flights, the main purpose of these flights was to take people to a foreign airport in order to avoid UK airport tax.

So however you look at the problem, there are two pertinent questions:

One is, how many flights per day would it take to make the airport pay?

And the other is how many extra flights per day before the airport benefited the UK economy? 

My own reckoning with freight only flights and just the airport going into the black with the UK government still subsidising it to the tune of around £8,000 per day is around 22,000 flights per year or around 60 flights per day. 

With the freight only option the key question is do the economic and social benefits to Thanet outweigh the economic and social disadvantages? 

A major issue here is to save the existing jobs and a question that does need asking is does the freight hub option save the existing jobs?

I guess another issue here would be air to rail freight, were Manston to be freight only it would be much more likely to need a rail freight terminal than a parkway station. 

Next come the videos from the Save Manston Airport meeting, good on Duncan for his efforts.










   
I am adding to this post in a fairly random way as I think of things.


One aspect of freight activity at Manston is air pollution, as the wind direction here blows predominantly towards a bit north of east, Broadstairs is most affected by the planes and lorries operating on and in the immediate vicinity of the airport.

Thanet as I guess we all know has the highest death by air pollution statistics for southern England, presumably because the predominant wind direction means the air here has been travelling furthest across the southern England landmass.

But an interesting question, to which I don’t know the answer is; which is more polluting for us here in Thanet, flying the freight to Manston, having the plane movements there and then using road transport to move the freight out of Thanet and the fuel into Thanet or having the plane movements further to the west of us?  

References, the comment is getting a bit complex so I am adding some reference links

Report that says Thanet has the highest air particle mortality rate.


News paper article showing the American Airforce tried to introduce racial apartheid due to aircraft noise pollution http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts2/id71.htm  

120 comments:

  1. Manston is the fourth longest runway in the UK. Just where do you get your facts or do you invent them to suit your view point.

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    1. Sounds like a party political broadcast for Tim's MP campaign.

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    2. If you're going to split hairs at least get your facts right - Manston is the 11th longest runway in the UK - 20th if you count military.

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    3. Who says the aircraft has to be fully laden. This would be a rare event. Depends on type of load, destination etc.

      Parliament channel is 81 on freeview, 201 on Freesat, and if you are a sky viewer you are probably not interested.

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    4. Anon I am not and never have been anti airport, but I am a local businessperson and it is businesspeople that have to be convinced here.

      There was some talk in 1990 of lengthening the runway because.

      Manston Airport runway is 9,016 ft long.

      The Boeing 747-400, at MTOW (Maximum Takeoff Weight), needs a runway that is 9,901 ft long.

      The Airbus A380-800, at MTOW (Maximum Takeoff Weight), needs a runway that is 9,020 ft long.

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    5. Bemused crossed over there. No one does that I know of, however the major selling point of having an airport has been that we locals could fly from it to enhance our business and pleasure activity. At the moment most of the online discussion seems to be saying that if there is a rescue package then it would be for freight only, at the moment I am just trying to digest the implications of this.

      Just because if someone offers you a horse and a camel turns up, this is what you do.

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    6. What is being ignored is the fact that with a fairly long runway Manston can accommodate a range of aircraft. When planning loads and routes all this is taken into account and the load, including fuel, is adjusted accordingly, unless the airline is Kam Air and attempt a take off while 25,700 lbs (11,700 kilos) overweight. If all flights were based on maximum take off weight there would be a limited number of places to fly to in wide bodied jets. Therefore runway length alone is not an argument against cargo aircraft.

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    7. Bemused, there is a fairly large group of locals of which I am one who support a local passenger airport. A fairly large local group who are totally against night flights, I don’t fall into this group but consider any night flight allowance must have reasonable economic advantage to mitigate the economic disadvantages. In simple terms if I get woken up at 2am and then at 6am and know this inconvenience means a hundred local jobs, I have a completely different attitude than if the only benefit is to give half a dozen people a couple of hours overtime.

      Now it looks as though the only option is likely to be a freight hub, my initial reaction is to look for the snags and try and work out how I feel about this new option, which is what I am trying to do here.

      The runway length issue is just one of the snags, so what do you think about a freight only hub? Can you see any advantages or disadvantages social, employment or economic locally?

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  2. What a pity Sir Roger was not as keen to save jobs when Chatham dockyard was closed and Thatcher closed all the pits I think he is putting on a show and there is no buyer lined up we shall see,
    Stargazer

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    1. I didn't even realise that Roger was ever an MP for Chatham. You learn something new every day on these blogs!

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    2. And I always thought it was Arthur what closed the pits, who still draws his president income from a much diminished union and who still clings on to his grace and favour flat in the Barbican even though union funds can hardly stand the cost. With friends like him it is hardly surprising the miners lost their jobs.

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    3. Keep up todate anon 6.55, Scargill lost the right to the Barbican flat in 2012.

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    4. Well that was a lot longer than his followers kept their jobs. He still has his nice little earner and I don't recall him living on strike pay.

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  3. All anybody needs to do is look at the way people that live near or next to a busy airport feel.
    It would ruin Ramsgate and that would effect towns around it. People say why did you buy a house in Ramsgate if you dont like planes 6-10 a day is bearable 60-70 would not be. Sorry if the people lose their jobs.
    But as i have read it seems that Manston supporters don't care what the cost to Ramsgate.

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    1. As I have read it a handful of people in Ramsgate don't care about the benefits to the rest of Thanet and East Kent... and it IS just a handful of people (I have lots of friends in Ramsgate and they all support night flights!). Even you anons can't actually NAME many people who are against it, and the anti letter in the Gazette last week by "Jean Head" looked very very similar to ECR's message on his blog the other day. Let's face it, the only "politician" against it is John Worrow (and that's only because Roger Gale and Roger Latchford support it).

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    2. It's notable that the "Stop Manston Expansion Group" closed down through lack of support, and no-one has started another "anti" group to replace it. Speaks volumes. http://stopmanstonexpansiongroup.blogspot.com/

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    3. Its amazing that when they proposed night flight our local school gym was full, far more than in your meeting the other day.
      I'll tell you something that speaks volumes 15 years of failure with £8,000 a day of tax payers money that's £42,720,000.00

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    4. Far more than 300? Must be a very big school gym!!!

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    5. Anon the first operator to go bust at Manston was Air Ferry in 1967 and the government funding of Manston which dates from 1916 runs through all of the 50 years of commercial operations there.

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    6. So Michael do you know what the cost is to the tax payer to ruin Ramsgate?

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  4. This whole debate is farcical and is being driven by people who don't know what they are talking about. Firstly, the airport is not going bust because of any restriction on night flights. In fact, those who have read the Section 106 know that it restricts virtually nothing and fails to specify sanctions for breaches. Council officer previously concluded that it was unenforceable. Secondly, TDC cannot legally authorise night flights. The airport does not and has never had planning permission. It's legality rests on some shady pieces of paper called certificates of lawfulness. These do not confer any right to expand or develop the airport. They simply recognise that it is an airport and can continue to operate as an airport following the handover from the military. Two upstanding local residents took TDC to court over the issue of these certificates. In court, the barrister acting for TDC told the judge that any significant change in the nature or scale of use of the airport would require a planning application for the whole development. He went further and specified that the introduction of regular scheduled night flights constituted such a change. So, TDC cannot authorise night flights because they told the court that they would require a full planning application before allowing the airport to be expanded in this way.
    P.S. For those thinking that a planning application for night flights could easily be rushed through - you don't know what you are talking about. Do some research before making fools of yourselves.

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    1. I'd rather listen to Sir Roger Gale than someone who posts anonymously on blogs.

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    2. Anon from the point of view of a local businessperson the issue is not and has never been flight activity at Manston, the issue that does genuinely damage the local economy is uncertainty about flight activity at Manston.

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    3. Clearly in order to thrive Manston must have enough air movements. My concern is the dispersal of aircraft within the existing ground space. It wouldn't take too many aircraft to fill all available parking slots. I don't know the capacity but there must be a point beyond which Manston is full, and turning aircraft around becomes a logistical nightmare. So I suppose my question is, can Manston handle the number of aircraft movements on a daily basis necessary for it to pay its way?

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    4. Just because it is being suggested that Manston's future as an airport lies in freight, that would not preclude all other activity. Any airport is going to attract other users, flying schools, private light aircraft including executive passenger ones and, particularly at Manston, military and air sea rescue. No airport operator would put up a big sign saying 'FREIGHT ONLY' to the exclusion of other trade. If it stayed open it would still be used for diversions and very probably for training air crew purposes.

      On the funding from 1916, this was public for most of those years because it was a military field and an agreement was reached when the RAF moved out for a continued contribution towards the cost of keeping it open. That might suggest at that time the MOD did not want it to close down.

      All in all, most of the comments here, for and against, are pure speculation and I rather feel it is a case of, in the immortal words of Doris Day, Que Sera Sera. There may well be influences at work of which we know nothing and only time will tell.

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    5. Interesting thought Bemused, I guess using a military facility converted to be primarily a passenger facility as a freight hub may have problems, not the least of which any really major change at Manston would probably trigger the major planning application and associated public enquiry that has been avoided up to now.

      I think there is a problem here from my point of view of not really understanding the full implications of a freight only air hub enough to have a proper and informed opinion on the issue.

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    6. I guess William the main problem here is that one again we are looking at secret deals involving our elected representatives which involve potentially considerable effects on the local community and large amounts of public funding.

      I am particularly thinking of Port Ramsgate which theoretically is being publicly funded by us as an open port that should be economically beneficial to the local community, but in practice all that is happening is subsidising live animal exports with our council tax.

      There has for instance been a suggestion that as Manston is pretty much the only airport licensed to dismantle aircraft in the uk it becomes a massive aircraft scrap yard.

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    7. Blaming the high air pollution on the wind blowing across the South East just to Thanet is laughable even for you Michael. Where did you get that information? Surely an airport with 747's at rooftop height shedding fuel droplets would be a factor?

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    8. Michael, I was not suggesting secret deals where the airport is concerned, indeed it seems all very public at the moment, but more the influences that might want to see an airport continue in this corner of the country. Furthermore, if figures mean anything, the pro airport campaign seems to have far more visible support than the anti ever did, so it is hardly a case of elected representatives trying to save it without public interest.

      On Ramsgate Port, which I did not realise was part of this thread, it seems to have had a ferry service for most of the fifteen years I have lived in Thanet, since my return, but I would not know if that, excluding the recent nonsense with TEF, ever made it truly viable. It is only since TEF folded that it has existed for live animal exports alone, but it does occur to me that TDC's efforts to stop that trade illegally are likely to cost us far more than will ever be made from the odd shipment. Various people have suggested its future should lie in leisure facilities, a marina and possibly cruise docking facilities, but how would you see any of that coming about. How, for example, do you legally stop the animal exports, destined to cost Kent Police a fortune just to get the lorries through.

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    9. I suppose William that if the private sector has a loss making transport facility like Manston or port Ramsgate they either seek to close it or to get public funding to subsidise it. My feelings are the underlying problem in both cases is that the great majority of the spokes of the transport hubs wheel are seawater, the only real solution being to get fish to buy airline and ferry tickets or to make some sort of subsidy so that it is economic to drive freight past major transport hubs to Thanet.

      Looking over the TDC accounts which occlude an easy view of the port's finances among those of the profitable Ramsgate Marina, I don't think Port Ramsgate ever made money for the council.

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    10. If both port and airport are unsustainable what exactly do you suggest people in Thanet actually do for jobs. They cannot all run bookshops and, as my generation had to leave Thanet to find worthwhile careers all those years ago, it seems nothing has changed. With the negative attitudes shown locally to any progress it is unlikely it ever will.

      By the way, the nearest main transport hub airport is surely Stansted which is about the same driving time to London as Manston. The sea also does not seem to be a problem to a port like Dover, indeed, it probably would not be a port if it was inland surrounded by a densely populated catchment are.

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    11. If both port and airport are unsustainable what exactly do you suggest people in Thanet actually do for jobs. They cannot all run bookshops and, as my generation had to leave Thanet to find worthwhile careers all those years ago, it seems nothing has changed. With the negative attitudes shown locally to any progress it is unlikely it ever will.

      By the way, the nearest main transport hub airport is surely Stansted which is about the same driving time to London as Manston. The sea also does not seem to be a problem to a port like Dover, indeed, it probably would not be a port if it was inland surrounded by a densely populated catchment are.

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    12. Ah 7.15 as I said mostly a problem for Broadstairs although it is a factor as are the aircraft emissions, these however pale into insignificance when compared to the road vehicle emissions directly upwind of us

      The sad fact is that if you drove a small economic car with one passenger from Thanet To London it would actually cause slightly more air pollution per passenger than if you both flew to London in an averagely full passenger plane, three of you in the car and the car pollutes the air much less per passenger journey than the plane.

      With the wind blowing from the west – which it usually does – the pollution would arrive here in Thanet. The trouble is that there are a lot more people travelling by car upwind of Thanet than there are by plane.

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    13. Thought our prevailing wind was south westerly, but if west suits your case, Michael, use it. You usually do twist the facts.

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    14. That, William, is a very good question.

      I strongly believe that the port and the airport are both essentially vanity projects, which have received long-term investments from KCC and TDC with little return. What other, perhaps less obvious and vain, projects could have or would have provided a better return for the same investment.

      The fact with freight is that the longer it travels by road, the more expensive it is. Whilst it is true that we have relatively freely flowing roads from Thanet, we're a long way from major conurbations. Unlike Stansted, which is a lot closer to a lot more people. Hence the viable seafreight ports are a lot further up the Thames and the airports are all in the M4/M25 corridor.

      Dover has different issues, given that it is not, and is never likely to be a container port. The vast majority of traffic through Dover is roll-on-roll-off ferry road freight, and it is where it is because of the proximity to continental Europe.

      In my view, the only way that the port would ever be viable would be to invest in something very specific. If llamas required very specific conditions to be imported, and it could be shown on paper that there was a market for providing port services for them that did not exist anywhere else, then that might be worth considering. At present there is nothing that the port can provide which other ports can't also provide more cheaply and closer to the market. And before anyone asks, I was just using llamas as a 'for example'.

      And similar for the airport - to be viable, it would have to offer something which other airports cannot or do not offer. Having available slots and capacity and local people prepared to work there is obviously not good enough.

      Failing a sensible business plan which actually seems to have some sustainability built into it rather than continually expecting cash injections from local government, it deserves to close.

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    15. William the key to a transport hub in this part of the world is how far away it is from the M25 and how much populated land it has round it. With Dover v Ramsgate the problem is and ever was – apart from for hovercraft – the Goodwin Sands which from Ramsgate to the nearest part of continental Europe you have to around in a ship, roughly doubling the distance. This means the ferry takes twice as long and used twice as much fuel.

      I think the real answer is to get the message across to the politicians that Thanet has a great many things going for it but being a transport hub isn’t one of them, perhaps it is our politicians not understanding simple things like this that are the root to Thanet’s economic and employment problems. You for instance have lived here for some time and are a local politician, but yet seem to have failed to grasp the simple geography of the sea near to us, I have sailed small boats from Ramsgate for nearly forty years so just assume that everyone else understands it. In the same way that I understand that you have to allow for traffic congestion around Westwood Cross.

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    16. I'm not sure if you are right about that, Michael, because aircraft use a lot of fuel in taking off and landing. Short journeys are very unlikely to be more efficient in a large passenger aeroplane than in a car. Over moderate distances, fuel usage per passenger of car and plane are similar.

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    17. Joe I did use short haul figures but may have misread my slide rule, just checked with a calculator and it comes out about the same. You know I reckon that the greatest factor in the closure of Manston has been the desire to turn it into London Manston rather than settle for reducing the size of the thing and having a small regional airport with manageable overheads. I guess a reasonable epitaph could be; killed by politicians with an unrealistic understanding of geography. I think Infratil applied antipodean short distances and a totally unrealistic understanding of the way people travel in southern England, excusable for New Zealanders, but not really for our political representatives.

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    18. Michael at 8:30 do elaborate on this please. Where do you get your facts? And you're saying that a 747 overhead into Manston would have no effect on Thanet having the worst air pollution in Kent?

      You're in good company because William seems to have said the same thing. What are his facts? The same?

      Your point on the wind direction seems to have been already proven wrong unless you'd like to advise otherwise.

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    19. Ah anon 9.10 I see it’s chocolate toasting fork time again, I concede hundreds of thousands more people travel around southeast England by plane than by car and the prevailing wind here blows from the east. I also admit that my saying “although it is a factor as are the aircraft emissions,” it actually meant it wasn’t factor and nor were there any the aircraft emissions.

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    20. I'm sorry Michael, without looking at your figures I can't tell what you are comparing with what. According to travelfootprint.org, a domestic flight from Manston to London City airport has a flight distance of 64.5 m. At an average occupancy of 65%, the journey produces 35 kg of CO2 per passenger. A comparable driver in a small petrol car on his own produces 21 kg of CO2.

      Of course, you might be considering other gaseous emissions, but they're going to be something similar to these.

      Again, if you tell me what it is that you're calculating, we can have a proper discussion about it.

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    21. Are you high Michael? I've read your 9:21 post twice and cannot understand it at all. The wind now blows from the west not the east and not even the southwest? And aircraft emissions are and aren't a factor? Please try again and with some facts if possible.

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    22. Cllr Epps seems geographically-challenged too as surely Gatwick not Stansted is the nearest airport hub...? This was also the chap who wasn't sure if the Thor mercury factory was above or below Broadstairs?

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    23. My mistake Joe used a bigger plane and a longer journey, comparing the stuff that flies from Manston.

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    24. A southern Santa Pod would be good. Amazing entertainment

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    25. Anon, 9:41, the reference was to freight hub, not just any old airport, and wasn't it you who claimed Stansted were after all Manston's freight work. Gatwick is primarily a passenger terminal, but understanding simple facts was never your strong point.

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  5. So far 1,042 have voted for night flights and 112 have voted against them.

    http://savemanstonairport.wordpress.com/

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    1. They don't live in the flight path ??

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    2. nope, the votes for have nothing to lose.

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    3. They wont stand for anything just a waist of time

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    4. Anon 9:49,

      I voted in favour of night flights and I live under the flight path. Where do you love??

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    5. Or for that matter 9:49 where do you live?

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  6. Just bunged comment moderation on and probably won’t get a chance to sort the comments out until about 10 tomorrow morning.

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  7. Really can't see air to rail freight as being even something that could be considered. There's not a single example of this in the UK, for various reasons, not least that the UK railway network is simply no longer configured for the type of small package/high value/small volume/lorry load to distribution hub goods that tends to be airfreighted.

    It's designed for high volumes (coal, cement, biomass, steel) and containerised goods from sea terminals almost all transported in trainloads of 1000 tonnes plus. There's virtually no infrastructure left for small-volume of traffic and virtually no wagons around that could carry it either. Even Supermarkets that do use rail are sending 1000 tonne trainloads from one hub to another, not tens of tonnes to the hub.

    You'd have to fund the rail link privately (along the lines of London Gateway) too, at a million quid or more a mile. And there's no guarantee of any traffic when you do. No go I'm afraid.

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  8. Oh dear, we can't do this, that won't work, why won't the tourists come, we are going to die from pollution. This mind rotting negativity is what drove me from Thanet all those years ago.

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    1. I wonder why so many locals are like this? There was an example in the national press a year or so ago of someone coming to Margate, and the taxi driver telling her how bad the place is! I'm not a huge fan of Clive Hart, but when he (quite rightly) stated recently that Thanet is a wonderful place to grow up in he received a lot of criticism. I certainly wouldn't want to live elewhere.

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    2. John this does rather beg the question of why you moved back to Thanet.

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    3. Michael,

      The term "begging the question" is a form of logical fallacy. But since you have raised the question I will reply. I moved back here Michael for the sole purpose of annoying you. May I ask again what sugestions do you have, if any, for a future use of Manston? Is my question unreasonable?

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    4. Michael,

      My apologies for my 10:32, I should not have replied to you in the way that I did. My only excuse is that all the Thanet negativity rattles me.

      You ask why I returned to Thanet. My family connections with Ramsgate go back a long way. On my father's side it is about 150 years and my mother about 100 years. I grew up here. This was part of the reason why I returned. The main one and the driving one was that I am an only child and had a widowed mother living in Broadstairs. Apart from that I would have returned to Godalming on retirement which is a town that I love. But I can no longer afford Godalming. So it may be I am stuck here tapping away on blogs.

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  9. Manston cannot survive as an airport because it's beside the sea, which explains why Hong Kong is such a failure.

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    1. Really, John, that's your argument - Manston is the same as Hong Kong? Of course it isn't. Hong Kong is one of the most populated places on the planet - and has only one airport.

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    2. I thought you were moving out of the area Joe? If that's so then I don't know why you're so concerned over what happens to the airport.

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    3. No Joe, that is not my argument. It was a jibe wrapped in irony. Made because I find this prevailing, negativity and the waving of semi researched technical facts tiresome. Stop saying what cannot be done and tell us what can be done.

      Joe, I know about Hong Kong. I have been there twice. Each time coming into the old Kai Tak airport on to what the Captain described as the 'interesting approach'. An approach that brought you in so low that you could actually look into the windows of the flats that towered above you as you flew past. An approach that typified the attitude of the people of Hong Kong.

      I was shown all over the island and the New Territories by people who knew every inch of the place. My first and lasting impression of Hong Kong was the pervading spirit of can do. The people did did not sit around moaning they got off their backsides and did something.

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    4. Peter, I don't need your permission to have an opinion nor to comment on it on blogs whilst I live in the area.

      John, I'm sure you are correct about Hong Kong, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the viability of Manston.

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    5. I would like to see KCC and TDC invest money in viable proposals which will actually employ large numbers of people in well paid jobs. Neither the airport nor the port do either. They are self-evidently a waste of public money.

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    6. Ok Mr Grumpy Negative, keep your hair on.

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    7. I don't know about you, Peter, but I want to see the money to which I pay my tax spent properly. If you can't take discussion and alternative views about the issues, maybe you need to set up a facebook page for people to tell you how wonderful you are instead.

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    8. Joe, I am indeed correct about Hong Kong and it has everything to do with the viability of Manston and Thanet in general . Stop telling me what cannot be done and tell me what can be done, or hold your peace [You & your should be read as plural and is not necessarily directed at you, Joe.]

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    9. I'm not telling you anything John, I am discussing the issues and how I see it.

      And you are self-evidently wrong about Manston. Would you like to offer any evidence to support your position?

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    10. Joe, No. I have heard all the arguments for and against Manston. You are against using Manston as an airport. What I have been asking you albeit in a roundabout way is what do you suggest for the future of Manston? You have said that you would like to see KCC and TDC invest money in viable proposals which will actually employ large numbers of people in well paid jobs. Such as, Joe, such as?

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    11. I don't need anyone to tell me I'm wonderful... and on that note I'm off out on my bike, otherwise I'll stop looking and feeling quite so wonderful!

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    12. I've no idea, John. It isn't for me to come up with viable ideas for Manston.

      I'm not necessarily arguing against Manston as an airport, but I am arguing that the current model is not economically viable for obvious reasons. which you don't seem to think is very important, so presumably you are happy to continue throwing public money at an non-viable enterprise?

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    13. Joe John nails on heads here, what we all – us Thanet residents – should be doing here is not bickering about pro or anti airport, but trying to work out and achieve what is the best solution for Manston to benefit us.

      At the moment we have a port that you can’t travel anywhere from and an airport you can’t travel anywhere from both of which we are subsidising through taxation.

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    14. I think the local politicians should be pressured to come up with the best use of public funds - namely things which stand up to scrutiny and which employ the maximum number of people in well-paid jobs. That is my agenda. If that means closing vanity projects like the port and airport in favour of something else, so be it.

      It is down to those who support the airport and port to provide a convincing argument as to why mountains of public money should be tipped into these projects which have only ever cost money - or why the plans they support will work when they have never been operated without injections of public funds before.

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    15. Surely what our local MPs are doing, at least as far as the airfield is concerned, is looking at the possibilities of making it viable. We should not knock people for trying and amongst all those who do, no one seems to have a credible suggestion for the alternative use of that site. Maybe Howletts could be persuaded to turn it into a wild life park, retaining the runway to fly in exotic beasties (but maybe we have enough of those anyway!).

      The port has only recently become an increased drain on the public purse with the collapse of TEF. Hitherto there has been a Ramsgate to Belgium ferry service (avoiding Michael's Goodwin sands problems) for many years. Many road haulage operators actually preferred that route for central and Eastern Europe than the Dover to Calais alternative.

      Obviously the council now have to see what alternative bidders and suggestions there are and it really is not a simple case of saying "leisure harbour" and, hey presto, overnight it just happens. In any case, whatever use is proposed some group in Thanet will inevitably vociferously oppose it. They just amend the banners and who they hit over the head with them with a cry of "Spread out, look a lot, Christine is filming."

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  10. Best leave discussions on MTOW and runway lengths to others as it's a specious argument in this debate

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    1. Ah Simon I am still removing the egg from my face, so first my abject apologies for treading on the toes of my intellectual superior, could you kindly divulge where I have made errors.

      My assumption here is that you would support any aviation operation at Manston above any non aviation operation there regardless of whether it has economic or social benefits for Thanet and taking no account of the social, environmental and economic disadvantages, is that so?

      What we are looking at here, correct me if I am wrong, is a freight only operation adding considerable mostly road vehicle emissions to an already serious air pollution problem for the whole of Thanet, while having none of the social or economic advantages of passenger flights i.e. this cases to become a Ramsgate only issue and the downside effects the whole of Thanet.

      From the point of view of my vastly inferior understanding of airport issues there are two problems that I am having some difficulty with, perhaps you could be so kind as to help me out with them.

      1 How many freight flights a day would it take to make Manston viable?

      2 Is the existing airport infrastructure (hard standing for planes, lorries etc) such that it would be possible to achieve a viable level of plane movements, assuming that Manston becomes primarily a freight hub.

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    2. Quite so, Michael. Would anyone in Ramsgate actually want to live next to a financially viable airport?

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    3. Sorry Ipo ceases not cases or even The Luggage with TWA rune.

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    4. Michael, If not an airport then what?

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    5. I'm sorry John, why is it always down to commenters on blogs to come up with viable alternatives?

      Presumably there are a lot of things which could be done with the space which fulfills the objective of employing lots of people and giving a decent return on public funding. Factories, other forms of specialist industry, other forms of employment building.

      If they're prepared to throw public money at something which has been losing money for as long as Manston airport, why wouldn't they spend some money and effort thinking about what actually might work? Answer- because so many local people are emotionally attached to an airport, even though it has been shown time-after-time to be a failing economic model.

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    6. You're right Joe. Holyer is the worst example of the RAF Duffer/my granny worked at the airport brigade. And Gale laughable that Manston is a national asset. It's just a junkyard failed airport and like many WW2 bases is closed.

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    7. Joe, You claim that lots of things can be done with Manston. Are you able to suggest something?

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    8. Even closing Manston and doing nothing would be better than the current situation - which is costing public money, John.

      My lack of knowledge about viable alternatives does not mean that there are no viable alternatives to spending government money on a non-viable airport. Because I'm obviously not in a position to know what alternative would be viable.

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    9. Joe,

      So you assume that there must viable alternatives but you cannot think what these might be.

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    10. Joe, I see over on BigNews you are listed amongst those using pseudonyms. Is that the case or are you for real? Just interested as we have exchanged views a few times.

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    11. I am not using a pseudonym. If you would like to make an appointment at my office in Chapel Place, Ramsgate, to see my birth certificate, please let me know. I have met others who can verify my existence and I resent rather the idea that because I am offering a contrary opinion I am not 'real'. Either come and let me prove to you whatever it is that you want proven, or quit this silly tripe, William. I have never, ever posted anything anonymously or under other names on Thanet blogs, I have always met anyone who wants to meet me.

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    12. John - if you are asking whether there are alternative that do not cost money with no return - then yes - closing the airport and doing nothing. If you are asking whether I believe there are other things that TDC and KCC could have invested the money which would have given a greater return, then yes. If you are asking me for a detailed business plan for an alternative, then you are asking the wrong person.

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    13. Thank you, Joe. I'm content to leave it there.

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    14. Joe, calm down for I always assumed you were real. I have simply been following a debate on BigNewsMargate where a certain anonymous poster has been claiming that most of us that use a name are using pen names and thus just as anonymous. When asked to list these pseudonym characters he included you, along with others I know to be real, in the list.

      You will appreciate in my case that my details are verifiable on the Broadstairs Town Council website, even down to a photo (not that I recommend its viewing).

      Anyway, thanks for confirming that and I hope the anonymous troll who made the suggestion is paying attention.

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    15. William an interesting thought on the air pollution front that I hadn’t really thought of until today, is that being upwind of a major freight air hub and particularly within five miles of it would have air pollution ramifications.

      As far as I can see after a trawl of the web, the main effect from Manston would be on Broadstairs with continuous exposure leading to reduced life expectancy for those living there.

      Obviously you can also trawl the web to confirm or deny what I am getting at, many of the sites explaining the this are not those of cranks but governments and well known academic organisations.

      This seems to imply that this is very much a case of turkeys, if not voting for Christmases in general, then at least one or two.

      As you live in Broadstairs I wondered if you have any thoughts on this one.

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    16. Michael, I had thought better of you for, in the past, you have pointed out to the pollution fanatic that Thanet's air is generally of a satisfactory quality less a couple of hotspots at traffic congestion points. The airport is a minor contributor to air pollution compared with traffic and that essentially means local traffic.

      Elsewhere I think we have now established that our prevailing wind is a south westerly. In other words it hits Thanet, including Broadstairs, from the direction of the English Channel and south coast, not overland. Even were Manston to suddenly produce high levels of airborne pollution it lies almost directly due west of Broadstairs, not south westerly. A SW wind off Manston would take the air over Margate, if indeed it were of concern.

      Whilst I am rather tiring of this silly debate, which hinges on the unknown future of Manston, I do find it amusing that when the critics of Manston explain why it cannot be viable it is invariably because it is surrounded by sea on three sides and, thus, has a poor people catchment area. You yourself talk about fishes learning to fly in your more dismissive mode. Now suddenly pollution is being used as a reason for not having an airport future and it seems to be surrounded, not by sea and fishes, but built up areas and people. Do you know, I actually believe that jobs are more important to people than the odd whiff of aviation fuel.

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    17. What I do find odd (according to the Local Government Peer review) until the Manston closure was mooted is the admission that TDC Leadership (both officers and members) were not meeting with our 2 elected MP's "because of their opposing political leanings"

      Why ever not isn't meeting like this good for Thanet

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    18. Barry, for once I am in complete accord with you and, as I have often said, what a sad day it was when politics was introduced into local governance.

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  11. Again you seem incorrect Michael on air pollution. The freight airport at Manston doesn't/wouldn't add to the air pollution deaths. it causes them. No airport no excess air pollution deaths beyond any other area.

    It seems you've decided your prevailing wind across the southeast is utter cobblers and dropped that.

    The issue is not road traffic around the airport but 747 jets at rooftop height shedding high levels of pollution directly onto the population. Which is why they are banned form overflying the towns. Why that hasn't been enforced is a crime.

    If it had been enforced Manston would have closed long ago - saving at least c.30 lives a year from the pollution.

    Infratil and TDC have blood on their hands.

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  12. Just for the record, according to the Met Office, south east Kent's prevailing wind direction for most of the year is south westerly. That would mean that for most of the time it is blowing up the English channel, along the same line as the gulf stream, and thus, mainly over water by the time it reaches Thanet.

    Is there any truth in the comment that Joe Turner is moving away for he seems so right for Thanet. If he stayed he could become as famous as Christine Tongue in time.

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    1. Thank you, anon 10:32. I agree with you about the wind. This is also my understanding of the local geography.

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    2. I don't understand what the wind direction has to do with anything. There are populations in all directions from the airport, surely if there is more traffic then there will be more fumes and emissions over someone.

      I would imagine that the emissions are more closely related to the flight-path from Manston, which appears to be largely over Ramsgate.

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    3. In my ignorance I used http://www.kentair.org.uk/documents/th_da.pdf as the basis for my air quality information, one of the significant quotes is:

      “Detailed dispersion modelling of NOX and PM10 has been undertaken using the Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) Ltd ADMS-Roads advanced Gaussian air dispersion model.
      The most recent year’s meteorological data from Manston meteorological station (2003) has therefore been used within the ADMS-Roads model. The wind rose for the Manston meteorological data and is shown in Figure 2.2. The Manston windrose highlight a dominant south westerly wind direction, and also a significant easterly.”

      The key part being “and also a significant easterly.” That is for a lot of the time it blows the road vehicle emissions from southern England across us.

      With our dear old anon, (you are all about to die) who among other things feels that avigas (which is pretty much paraffin) is being showered on the Thanet towns in significant quantities, I find it easiest to agree with him or her, something he or she still seems to want to argue with.

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    4. You're struggling to save face Michael. Firstly the KentAir reports are off kilter due to no monitoring at Manston. Secondly you've picked out the weaker wind factor ie easterly rather than the prevalent southwesterly. Thirdly you ignore the effects of the airport pollution completely. Although you do note that aviation fuel droplets at low level are being showered on the population.

      If you're arguing the airport has nothing to do with Thanet 90 deaths at least from air pollution you're doing a very bad job.

      Perhaps we should discuss the water supply under the runway instead?

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    5. Michael - perhaps you can point me to the relevant section of the report, but I can see nothing to suggest that vehicle emissions from South-East England blow over to Thanet. Indeed, I think it is highly unlikely that vehicle emissions blow very far at all.

      As far as I can understand, the report is suggesting that the emissions are due to local traffic and the airport.

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    6. Joe I can’t because as I said this is where I got the wind direction from, however what I can say is that the majority of the air pollution in southern England comes from Road Traffic and building heating, industry and aviation produce relatively minor amounts in comparison.

      With the pollution generated by Manston, which is mostly aviation fuel burnt during takeoff I can say that it is mostly blown towards the northeast and what comes down before it is blown over the sea mostly lands on Broadstairs and Cliftonville.

      How much of the pollution generated across southern England arrives in the Thanet air is a complex issue, related to what goes up and what comes down and I think that diesel lorries would be a major factor here.

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  13. John, no worries your comment made me laugh as I assumed it was meant to, as was my comment to you. Mother was the main reason I returned too.

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  14. Right William let me be absolutely clear about this I am not anti airport and I fully support a regional airport that I can fly somewhere from, as I fully support the historic aircraft activities at Manston which I have always said should be expanded.

    I do however have major reservations about this new idea of a major airfreight hub at Manston and what I am looking for here is the advantages and disadvantages, economic, environmental and social for Thanet.

    Now my background is in engineering and science, so I generally see life expectancy in the UK as a balance between modern medicine, which pushes it up, and modern pollution levels, which push it down. The overall direction during the last hundred years has been up and you wouldn’t have modern medicine without modern machinery, which produces the pollution.

    Now last time I looked Margate was roughly north of Manston, and the bit upwind of where an aircraft are taking off and therefore producing the most pollution (from the western end of the runway to where the aircraft has got high enough for the emissions to blow over the land) extends roughly from Walpole Bay to Dumpton Gap.

    I don’t think there is any question that air pollution reduces life expectancy, nor do I think there is any question that jet engine fuel and the closely related diesel engine fuel are some of the worse culprits.

    Now let us say that Manston becomes a viable freight hub with about 100 plane movements a day, this is what you want, isn’t it? Then the fuel allowance for a 747 for a ground movement, taxiing and takeoff of landing is about a ton of fuel. Is there anything that I have said in this comment so far that you disagree with?

    So in Broadstairs and the surrounding area you could expect about 100 tons of this fuel burnt upwind of you and to be breathing a fair proportion of it in, now are you saying that this wouldn’t reduce your life expectancy?

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    1. Michael, did I say anywhere that I supported a freight hub with 100 movements a day? It is not impossible, but I very much doubt it is going to happen.

      If you read what I said previously on this issue, it was that if an airport remains at Manston, regardless of its main usage, it will inevitably attract others users like executive aircraft, light private aircraft, flying schools, air sea rescue and, in Manston's case, military has it has done ever since the RAF left. There is also no reason why an airport that is mainly freight cannot also take passenger services. The real question is whether all this could add up to a viable business at the present airfield size.

      On the other hand, if we lower our ambitions a bit and think of a small regional airfield then plenty of other ex military facilities are surviving. In the south east places like Rochester, Redhill, Biggin Hill, Headcorn and Lydd all survive.

      Your speculation on where aircraft pollution would extend is seriously flawed. Most take offs are over the fields beyond the runway at the Minster end as most landings come in over Ramsgate. At the altitude of climb on full power the pollution with a prevailing south westerly would extend more towards Minnis Bay to Herne Bay, but, whatever, they are still people and should be included in any public consultation on the use of the field.

      The life expectancy issue is also flawed, as I believe you well know. Are you suggesting that people in Staines, for example, or Crawley, both subjected to air movements every few minutes, have a lower life expectancy than say those in the Medway with little or no air traffic? There are far more factors to take into account as we currently see with Thanet.

      Life expectancy for women in Thanet is higher than the Kent average but for men it is lower. In fact Kent has the lowest male life expectancy of any Kent district yet, as the airport detractors have told us often enough, there are hardly any air movements from Manston. Take a closer look and Thanet also has amongst Kent's highest levels of deprivation, smoking and drinking. Just perhaps, that might not help either.

      I actually do not think we are really that far apart on Manston and I would love to see it become a small airfield, bit like Biggin Hill and with the historic side developed, like Hawkinge, to attract visitors. Sadly, it seems to fall now between total closure or a predominantly freight hub, neither of which would have been my first choice.

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  15. William as I said in my reply to Simon’s comment and in the post itself the issue really relates to how many flights a day are needed to get Manston out of the red and into the black. Looking at the accounts of other airports and at the costs related to Manston and assuming a freight only operation i.e. no expenses for staff to deal with passenger operations but rising staff levels to deal with more freight, then I make this around the 60 flights a day mark. It is very complex and based on what other airports are doing. The additional business has various thresholds, for instance if you are going to have passenger services then you have to have some staff dedicated to these giving another threshold where you go from black to red. This threshold is lower if you are already providing freight services and looks to me to be about ten flights a day.

    But I would expect any operator would be looking to making a profit and so if it becomes freight only I would expect something in the region of 100 freight flights a day, which I think would be very difficult logistically without considerable improvements to the infrastructure. I also think given the sort of level where a freight only airport becomes viable it would be difficult logistically to combine this with other operations there.

    Back to the pollution issue and assuming that less fuel was burnt upwind of you in Broadstairs, do you feel that there would be a point where this would have zero impact on your life expectancy?

    I could be mistaken here, but this article suggests that we already have a problem http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/kent-is-air-pollution-capital-15887/ so activity both in terms of the planes taking off and the extra associate road journeys would add to an existing level of air pollution that is already a problem.

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    1. Michael, since you seem to have totally ignored my earlier response and are now seeking to put your interpretation on everything you might as well have this debate with yourself. I have already said I consider a freight only usage most unlikely and that life expectancy issues are far more complex than you seem to be implying. To answer your question though, no pollution has a zero impact, but would the pollution from air movements be any greater than possible alternative uses to which the site might be put, e.g. housing or light industrial and thus more people, more cars more lorries, more emissions. You tell me which is worse for I really do not know.

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    3. Epps really doesn't like it when confronted by the inconvenient truth. The problem with arguing that the future may not lie in a freight-only world is that this has already been tried. Since the airport was sold in 1999 they have been trying to get passenger operators to come and use it. This strategy has failed and this is why AG is closing it down. However, for any new investor coming in with ideas of grandeur there are some more unpalatable facts.

      Firstly, the terminal is outdated and could not cope with a fraction of the traffic needed to break even. A new terminal will have to be built and this will be very expensive. It will also have to go through the planning system and this will present them with a massive problem because the airfield itself doesn't have planning permission. A new terminal will trigger a requirement for them to apply for planning permission for the whole kit and kerboodle. If you look at how long it took to get planning permission approved for the runway extension at Lydd, you can see that a major application of this kind could take ten years to resolve. By this time Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted will all have new runways and there won't be any pressure on capacity at the major airports.

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    4. William so looking at equating airport use to light industrial, I worked as an engineer at Rovex which is pretty common knowledge locally so I know about the energy and emissions created by factories in Thanet, compare one aircraft movement for a 747 using one ton of jet engine fuel which is fairly similar to the fuel oil used to heat houses. I guess one ton would provide all of the heating energy and hot water for a large modern house for a year. In engineering most of the energy used is electricity so the emissions do not occur locally, the heat given off by the machine tools at Rovex was pretty much sufficient to heat the factory although the offices did have a central heating system about the size you would expect to heat a couple of houses, so I would say the emissions from that fairly large factory for a year would be about the same as four to six aircraft movements during one day.

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    5. Michael, am I to take it that the main argument against the continuance of Manston as an airport is to be pollution after years of condemnation for its non profitability. It all rather smacks of close the airport come what may whether it is night flights, insufficient activity leading to non profit making or too much activity leading to pollution. Perhaps after all these years you have been infected by the dreaded Aquifer Man. Had you bothered to read my earlier comments you would be aware I prefer the smaller regional airport idea and have reservations about what might be the alternative use.

      Since you place great reliance on your expertise as an engineer and the vast knowledge on pollution that gives you, let me say that I spent much of my life living and working on busy airfields, often with heavy air traffic and frequently involving V bombers and highly polluting jet fighters. Clearly on your reckoning I should have left this mortal realm years ago.

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    6. William as I have said before I am wholly supportive of a regional passenger airport, the freight hub is the thing that has been hinted at by Roger Gale and the support Manston airport group. Now a freight hub is different to a regional airport and as any decision that we get is likely to be made very quickly I am looking, as one always does, when our local politicians start pushing something, for the snags. Now dipping into the public purse to fund a local airport with the normal things one would expect, like destinations for me and my family is one thing. Using the public purse to support a freight hub, or an aircraft scrap yard, which was another suggestion is something else altogether. I am not saying it is a bad thing, just that it is different to the expectations we have had for Manston in the past. With the wind direction, combined with the already high levels of local air pollution I am exploring the possibility that this could say knock a say couple of years of the lives of the people living in parts of Thanet other than Ramsgate, people who were previously unaffected by the down side of the airport, which so far has only been noise pollution in Ramsgate. So assuming you accept that there will be some air pollution in Broadstairs and that it will reduce your life expectancy, something that isn’t proven but seems likely, it does raise questions like, what period of life reduction would you be prepared to give to say keep 100 people in work? Easy to laugh at this one, but in truth this equation works and has worked in much of the worlds industry, coal mining caused people to die much younger, as does the smog in many industrial cities. There is no doubt whatsoever that the emissions from internal combustion engines are both invisible and reduce life expectancy, burning a ton of fuel in a fairly confined area is likely to increase the problem in that confined area.

      The alternative is either to pretend there is no problem, or at least no to tell people that there may be a problem, by this I mean we both know there is an air pollution problem, that part of this is caused by large aeroplanes taking off, in my book you quantify the problem and it is this that allows you to make an educated decision. Engineers do this all the time on the behalf of others, the R101 is perfectly safe, the titanic is unsinkable and so on.

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    7. Michael, think we are in the same place over a regional airport and the development of the historic site as a tourist attraction. Unlike you, however, I do not see a major freight hub idea going beyond the drawing board. If Manston in all these years since it became a civilian airport has only attracted a handful of commercial users why should that suddenly change because someone calls it a freight hub. It has always handled freight and was open for such business.

      In my book, all this pollution stuff based on 100 movements a day is pie in the sky and can only be seen at this time as speculation or possibly scaremongering to counter the support that Manston suddenly has. Relax and get on with life, but time enough to go into detail when some plans and figures, other than guesswork, are actually on the table.

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  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. A word of warning as the late great JRR said; pasting great chunks of other websites into the comment form either as trolling or as troll baiting will be treated as spam and may result in Google blocking your ip address.

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  17. "Mayor next week"? I didn't realise there were local elections to select a mayor (nor that Garbutt was a candidate), obviously another thing I missed!

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    1. Peter, he has been dropping electioneering leaflets around over here in Ramsgate and Broadstairs, but, you are right, there is no election for mayor. Even if there was he would find some excuse for not actually putting in his candidate papers to the Electoral Officer. Last time he did not stand because the council are all corrupt.

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