OK we all know there isn’t really an easy way of filling in government forms, online or off, but in this case the online option really does seem to be the easiest way.
The main advantage to responding online is that you can go beck and change you responses right up to the 6th March.
To do this you will need to be registered online, so first go to the council’s consultation web page and either register or log in https://consult.thanet.gov.uk/consult.ti
Then click on the link to the 2015 local plan consultation and follow through the pages of explanations, which you may or may not skim, read or ignore.
Eventually you get to the first question: Do you agree with the level and approach to encouraging economic growth in Thanet?
I think this translates to: Do you agree with the pages of text maps and diagrams you have skimmed through so far? So you then back paddle trying to find the key elements, I think the key map is this one. Unfortunately where it appears in the online consultation it is pretty much illegible.
So click on the picture of it below to make it bigger and after it has got bigger click on it again to make it even bigger.
Anyway with this first question I have put in a first draft of a response to the first question which I intend to go back and modify, here it is.
“The problem with the approach to encouraging economic growth within the plan is that it is substantially base around a port with ferry services and an airport with freight and passenger services.
As neither exist or seem likely to exist the council’s approach appears to based around alternative but unworkable options for the sites where these once existed.
E.G. “1.14 Ramsgate Port is an infrastructure asset and is important for the green economy sector and as a wharf for the movement of minerals.”
Port Ramsgate is upwind and uptide from Ramsgate Marina, Ramsgate Main Sands, the associated café culture and tourist economy providing much of the town’s employment. So while normal ferry activity (passenger and roll on roll off) at the port would be likely to be of net benefit for the local economy, any lose and therefore dusty industrial cargoes would be likely to cause dust to blow over the main tourist economy, removing far more jobs than it creates. This would also apply to the washing of mineral cargoes at Port Ramsgate which would likely to create bathing water pollution.
Something very similar applies to the council’s recent support for turning Manston Airport in to an airfreight hub. While obviously a regional passenger airport would be likely to enhance the economy and appears to have public support. The council supporting a freight only air hub under the guise of saving the airport is just misleading. It would seem likely that as Margate and Broadstairs are upwind of Manston and an airfreight hub would create large amounts of air pollution with very little benefit to the local economy and be likely to result in considerable job losses in the local tourism industry.
I think it is very important when constructing a local plan for Thanet that it is understood that the tourism industry is a fragile one and activity on the edge of environmental compliance is unlikely help tourism.
The bottom line her however is that unless the local plan allows for a situation where we have no ferry service from the port and no flights from the airport it isn’t really a local plan but more a local pipedream.”
I would say one thing is certain and that is every developer with an eye on Thanet will be responding to the local plan, so it is very important that local residents respond too.