Friday, 22 October 2010

Kent International Airport, Manston Airport a ramble

Various questions relating to the airport are either up for consideration or will be soon and I have been putting together some links and stuff for my own use, this isn’t supposed to be a coherent blog post, just a tentative look at the situation and a sharing of information.

If you want add more links or information please either post it as a comment or email it to me if you don’t know how to add a link to a comment and want to add one, email me either for instructions on how to do so, or email the whole comment.

The background to this is that here in Thanet we have an airport, this isn’t something that was planned for and constructed as part of the areas transport infrastructure, but is about something that started in WW1 and has grown into what we have.

Over the last 50 years different companies have tried to make use of this historical accident and turn it into something commercially viable.

Personally my main interest with the airport relates to its safety and environmental considerations.

With safety there are two considerations that are particular to Manston, one being that the town of Ramsgate is at the end of the runway and the other that it is right on top of the most sensitive part of our underground drinking water reservoir.

You can’t really get away from the fact that more aviation accidents happen near to runways than happen in other places

Accident wise over the years Manston has had its ups and downs. As an example of what I mean the picture above is of a DC 4 loading at Manston, several of them operated out of Manston and most of them left Manston and arrived on runways at other airports, apart from the Oscar Golf that flew into some trees on the approach at Frankfurt killing everyone onboard, and Kilo Yankee that flew into a mountain killing everyone onboard.

For this area the airport represents a balance between the advantages and disadvantages combined with risk management.

The airports website is

Changes to the airports radar due to radar clutter caused by The Thanet Offshore Windfarm and The London Array.

Night flights

The airports night flight consultation pages

TDCs night flight consultation pages I think these are the same, a little easier to follow as the links have titles.

My own simplified version, this should be the same but much easier to open, please let me know if I have missed anything

Manston, Kent's International Airport Master Plan

Comments and Responses to the draft Master Plan

Surface water and drainage


Racism and Aircraft Noise

I hope to do a more comprehensive post about this in the near future.


  1. There really does need to be more discussion on this matter so I'm grateful to you, Michael, for posting on it.

    From the point of view of air quality, noise, and pollution of the water table, I am against aggressive expansion of the airport. But I also understand other people's desperation to see the region improve its fortunes.

    What really concerns me is the council's illegal and highly suspect turning of a blind eye to Manston's removal of noise and air monitoring equipment; along with their blind reliance on the airport as the sole means to regenerate Thanet (a clear sign that they lack vision and are clutching at straws).

    Thanet District Council clearly view the airport as a silver bullet to cure all ills. But what I see and hear tells me that TDC plan to offer up Ramsgate as a sacrificial lamb to Thanet's future success. When TDC talk about regeneration, jobs, etc, they are talking about Margate and the surrounding area. Ramsgate itself is to be a grimy transport hub; noisy, polluted and certainly not a tourist destination (who would think of spending a weekend near Heathrow?).

    What irks me most, is that Ramsgate has actually changed a lot in the last 10, maybe 15 years, and most of that change has come from within. Ramsgate is regenerating in spite of TDC, and yet TDC are intent on wrecking the town's hopes as a tourist destination to turn around a region they have mismanaged for as long as I can remember.

    How informed are the locals in Ramsgate? When they are asked: "Would you like to fly abroad from Manston?" do they really understand the implications of that question? What effort has TDC made to present people with the reality of the choice facing them? And having made their choice, do the locals really think TDC will be swayed from a decision they appear to have already made?

    Anyone wishing to show their opposition to night flights may wish to attend a meeting on Monday the 25th at 7pm at Chatham House School with Ramsgate Town council.

    Sorry if that turned into a rant.

  2. I would also urge all those that support the airport to attend... It would be interesting to see how the number of supporters stacks up against the non supporters!

  3. I would encourage everyone to attend, as what is needed is more meaningful debate.

    So far, we are reliant on information from an ignorant, negligent council, and a self-serving profiteering airport. Will the few jobs created by the airport offset the loss of tourism in Ramsgate and the surrounding area? Talk about using a hammer to crack a nut.

    Where is the public consultation on the future of Manston? Why not spend time and money imagining a sustainable future that benefits all of Thanet and enhances its reputation as a tourist destination.

  4. One obvious drawback for Manston passenger expansion, which was pointed out to me quite recently is that it has only one quarter of a catchment area.

    That is "potential passengers" only live to the South-West of the airport, SE and NE are the North Sea and NW is blocked by the River Thames.

    Lack of suitable passenger flights will be supplemented by cargo night flights (knackered jumbos).

    I have to say, before I am accused of being against the airport, I also would not like to see it close and be turned into a housing estate or worse still an industrial estate on top of our drinking water. Reversion to farmland is definitely "pies in the sky" because of land values.

  5. Readit, you can also add to that the fact that 67% of flights are taken by people earning £40,000 a year or more (Civil Aviation Authority, 2007). How many people in Thanet will be using the airport on that basis?

    And so, we have to consider, is the airport for the wealthy people of Kent living further inland, and all at the expense of the less well off in Thanet. Surely, even people who are pro the airport can see that there are questions that need to be asked.

  6. Correction, 75% of people flying from UK earn £23,00 or more. 42% earn £40,000 or above. Still rules out a lot of Thanet.

    Have to be careful when quoting stats as the web can be a poor source of information.

  7. Michael

    Reading the thread and it suddenly occurred that something (off topic) is occurring that may be of interest to you and your contacts.

    Residential Landlords Assn is petitioning 10 Downing street re Labours change of housing benefits admin to Local Housing Allowance April 2008.

    As you know it brought about the situation in which private landlords could only get their rent paid directly from council after a tenant had run up at least two months arrears. Hence across UK benefits tenants helped themselves to two months multiples of rent of the landlords money.

    New Labour tried to frame their spiteful ideology enabling claimants to take money from their landlords so it would not be a crime of fraud.

    The Assn has researched near 1000 buy to let investors and obtained an average loss per buy to let. Projecting this the amount claimants may have pocketed may be between quarter and one billion pounds.

    What new Labour seem to have overlooked is that when the claimant tenants pocketed the rent money entrusted to them by the state, it represented an income which is declarable against their other means tested benefits.

    IE That quarter to one billion of money pocketed by fiddling tenant claimants is recoverable by the Exchequer. If they recover at the fraud rate of deductions per week from the claimants benefits it should take about six years for the govt to pocket the money denied to the landlords.

    If the new govt pursues this then will new Labour wail that the claimants cannot afford it ?

    Well tell that to the buy to let investors who the measures drove to bankruptcy. They definitely could not afford a govt which gifted their money to benefits fiddlers.

    My tenants pocketed rent money to pay for a holiday, to put a new gearbox in their seven seater SUV and to insure it. But I have got my money back folks. (Clue I didn't go to court to get it)

    But the best I have heard of for using the landlords rent money for their own purposes. Woman claimant who has two horses to feed.

    I think I surprised you on a previous occasion when I wrote that building regs of TDC are a helpful body of officers. Shhh don't let the cllrs know or they will interfere and ruin it.

    But I have to tell you landlords from other areas all say that Thanet council is one of the best for reining in tenants who would steal the LHA. Taking a pragmatic and moral stance compared to other councils that by paying the landlord directly ASP it secures tenant families in their homes and helps avoid landlord bankruptcy.

    Also their environmental protection officer seemed pretty good too for a public servant.

    Perhaps there is hope. The aquifer issues are now well publicised largely thanks to you.

  8. As Readit pointed out, the airport is surrounded on three sides by water. The Thanet Wind Farm and London Array will cause radar clutter, hence the transponder mandatory airspace consultation document. Could an increasing number of wind farms arrays off the Thanet coast ever put the airport out of business?

    I don't see Ramsgate in the TRANSPONDER MANDATORY AIRSPACE consultation document lists section H 5
    Non-Aviation Consultees - LPAs

    Kent County Council
    Essex County Council
    Thanet District Council
    Canterbury City Council
    Dover District Council
    Medway District Council
    Acol Parish Council
    Birchington Parish Council
    Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council
    Cliffsend Parish Council
    Manston Parish Council
    Minster Parish Council
    Monkton Parish Council
    St. Nicholas-at-Wade with Sarre Parish Council

  9. I am still Pro the airport and it is a fantastic facility for Thanet. On a recent TV show airposts had landing stips virtually in towns on beaches etc so Ramsgate by comparison is doing ok. As for night flights GET REAL no one is proposing 100's of flights in or out of Manston on a nightly basis. A business needs to be able to have a fair crack of the whip.The objectors to Manston are a noisey minority who oppoose others views because they feel they are right. Even People who live in Herne Bay are blogging opposing the airport, I can only assume because the are to far from Heathrow to object to the amount of planes flying over them. All the objections re offering Ramsgate as Data Hoover puts it :-"TDC plan to offer up Ramsgate as a sacrificial lamb to Thanet's future success. " are rubbish. Ramsgate has and is having money spent on it WESTWOOD CROSS is a point in Question and it associated transport links. We are a Community and it is called THANET we wont function as a community if we divide and conquer.

  10. acu75, you are so wrong it is almost funny.

    "The objectors to Manston are a noisey minority who oppoose others views because they feel they are right."

    The objectors have very valid arguments which concern not only themselves but the entire community. You on the other hand have no reasonable argument other than you like the idea of the airport.

    "Ramsgate has and is having money spent on it WESTWOOD CROSS is a point in Question"

    You think Westwood Cross is good for Ramsgate?! Why doesn't that surprise me…

  11. Also, acu75, you say: "objectors to Manston are a noisy minority"…

    Does being a member of a "minority" make a person's opinion invalid? Do you think the point is to be on the "winning team"?

    As to being "noisy", shouldn't people make themselves heard when they feel something is wrong?

    When people are given the facts and have all the information they need to make an informed decision, then you can point to a majority. That's all that I am asking for. The public need to hear from environmentalists, town planners, health organisations, tourist organisations, and their local MPs, before making a decision. But do you think TDC will let that happen?

  12. Some thoughts here, firstly night flights are only part of the issue here, top of the list is the safety issue, costs have to be balanced against risks and with transport there are risks and unless the human race decides not to travel, something that isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future, then those risks have to be balanced.

    I don’t think anyone would design an airport to have a town at the end of the runway like Ramsgate is, if they could avoid it, but due to an historical coincidence this has happened.

    The risk is greater overflying a town in this way, as is the nuisance, don’t misunderstand me here, when an aircraft flies over I am more likely to rush outside with my camera than cover my ears, but overflying the town when it just isn’t necessary is something the airport has repeatedly promised that they won’t do and yet over the last few years this is just what they have done.

    There are definitely some pollution hazards in doing this, although due to the airport lax monitoring these are unquantifiable.

    So this particular airport operator has a history of not taking Ramsgate seriously and not adhering to the existing rules, I think that this is an issue that needs exploring.

    Another main issue for me is the risk to our water supply, this is something that I was in the process of looking at back in 2007 and at that time I discovered that a series of airport operators, including the current one hadn’t been complying with environment agency recommendations relating to basic safety of the drainage system.

    This is really basic don’t dig a cess pit near the water well stuff that ordinary individuals wouldn’t be allowed to get away with at all, but somehow the large companies involved here have been getting away with for years.

    When I put my engineers hat on I can definitely say that there are some big risks here if we get a major fuel spillage on the grassed part of the airport, the problem being that what soaks into the ground at Manston goes into our water reservoir.

    A big problem here is that we can’t just empty the reservoir, clean it and fill it up again, because it is porous chalk and fuel can’t be removed from it.

    Another issue that I think needs exploring.

    There is another angle on the whole issue, which is if the airport are going to take risks with out health and safety or damage our tourism then perhaps they should be making some sort of recompense, this is something that would need astute negotiation.

    Possibly the airport operator could pay for some things to improve the area, particularly Ramsgate which is the main populated area they overfly.

    Waterwonderland, sealife centre, this type of thing comes to mind.

  13. Michael, if the risks/dangers are real, then compensation is not really the issue. The point would be to avoid the risks.

    If a "Waterwonderland, sealife centre" is desired, then great, let's build them on Manston airfield and then we solve 2 problems - the risk of having an airport so close to a town, and the employment/tourism that Thanet needs.

  14. The question of wind farms and radar clutter, it is unfortunately a question of the wind farms paying a bit of hush money to save being tied up in an enquiry. Extensive studies were done that cleared the wind farms of causing any excess clutter for either ships or planes. The price of a new radar was probably 10% of the lawyers fees for an enquiry.
    TDC aren't the only ones who are stitched infratil

  15. Data Hoover I am sorry to me they are a Noisey Minority. I hear nobody opposing the airport other than those on the internet and it seems that some are using the airport as a reason to get on a soapbox. This week alone several friends have either used Manston to fly or are booking etc. They have no qualms about flying. And with the amount of cars around I expect statisticly they are safer flying than driving but Statistics are able to prove anything. As for Westwood I am no fan but you seem to think Margate gets everything and all other towns are poor relations.

  16. acu75, I meet people every day who are anti the airport and they're not on the internet. In fact I have suggested they get on the internet but they think it's irrelevant. I guess it's just a matter of who you know.

    Westwood Cross has drawn the life blood out of the high streets of Ramsgate and Margate. It was either a bad idea, or it should have been coupled with reduced rents in the towns to encourage the type of shops the council does want on the coast.

    I know many creative people in Ramsgate who have been approached by TDC and encouraged to relocate to Margate. I also notice that many events n Ramsgate are not funded or publicised by TDC. Regenerating Margate is the council's primary objective. Ramsgate, it seems, is to be a transport hub and not a place people would choose to stay.

  17. Data Hoover Reduced rents Business tax etc. Shops are just too expensive nowadays Margate tops the poll and Ramsgate cant be far behind. TDC seems content to woo big names to Westwood and forget about the rest of Thanet. I know that is an over simplified view and TDC do in fact work very hard to encourage investment in Thanet but I like others want to see results yesterday and in this current financial climate things are tough. We often knock TDC but they deserve some praise and a lot of stuff goes un-noticed .

  18. Data Hoover should have said poll for empty last post

  19. Retired NICE POST and very very true , if the temptation was not there these things would have never happened stupid daft and avoidable . and the councils and labour who drew up legislation should be responsible . Yeah thats goiing to happen,

  20. ascu75, I have heard one theory that TDC wish to attract the large chain stores inland to Westwood cross and then attract smaller sole trader shops to coastal high streets (seems very aspirational for TDC). If this is true, they need to rethink their strategy. Boarded up shops in Thanet don't pull in any revenue to the local coffers. So discounting rates and rent is an obvious way to get some money in and attract new business. It's so obvious that I feel there must be a reason it doesn;t happen. What do you think it could be?

  21. I can tell you, Data Hoove. TDC would rather leave shops empty, than give reduced rents.

    I know this from first hand experience.

  22. I am not getting drawn on that one . I have my own ideas and if others care to post theirs let them do it TDC and other councils up and down the land are run by well meaning peoplewho put a lot of time and effort into doing what they feel is right, much like our stances on Manston and only one of us can be right yet we and they decide which approach to take.It is a real shame that councils up and down the land back a wrong 'un so often

  23. "much like our stances on Manston and only one of us can be right "

    ascu75, life is more complex than that. We can both be right.

    Often it's about "how" things are done, not whether they should be done.

    I understand and appreciate that working in a local council can be a thankless task but, in the case of the airport, there is a legal requirement to inform the public of the issues at hand before making a decision. TDC are failing to keep people informed of the risks and are pursuing their own agenda.

    In the case of empty shops, you say you have an idea why TDC don't discount the rents, but you don't feel able to say why. They are accountable for their actions. They have a duty to carry out decisions in the interest of the local community, and we have a duty to report back when we feel they are failing.


Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.