Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A ramble about sewage, taking credit cards with PayPal in my bookshop and Manston Airport.

Not much in the local news today and I noticed that Kent Online had a lead article about sewage http://www.kentonline.co.uk/dover/news/southern-water-reveals-sewer-blocker-30657/ while here in Thanet there are major works underway to deal with our sewers.

The problems in Thanet relating to our water supply and sewage are unusual and related to tunnelling our chalk, which is very easy.  

From a water supply point of view you either know how the system works or need some simplified explanation which I will try to provide.

If you think of Thanet as big lump of chalk sitting on a layer of clay surrounded by sea you won’t be far out. The chalk acts like a sponge, the clay underneath stops the rainwater running out the bottom and the sea at the sides stops the rainwater running out the sides.

There isn’t much sideways movement of water or obviously or the surrounding seawater would have made the Thanet groundwater brackish millennia ago, however our sewers which started being built in about 1840 and seem to have used roughly the same construction methods for the following hundred years are now giving problems.

In most places if you want to lay a major sewage pipe, you dig a trench and put the pipe in the bottom of it then fill it in, in Thanet they often dug a tunnel through the chalk and lined the bottom of it with something that wasn’t porous.

The snag here is obvious if you get a blockage the level rises to above the impermeable lining and soaks into the chalk contaminating the drinking water aquifer.

On to Paypal, well the first few days of using the payal card reader linked to the android tablet (see http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/taking-credit-and-charge-cards-in-my.html )have gone reasonably well.

The only issues have been that the tablet automatically reboots at 7 am, which means it forgets the paypal password, so it is best insert the password when opening the shop and when the reader gets to around 20% charge it refuses to work, giving you a recharge message instead of an insert card message, once you have plugged it into a charger it immediately works ok, so it is best to have a charger handy.

There has been a fair amount of activity at the airport over the last week with one of the broken down planes being broken up for scrap and various amounts of disused concrete has been removed, all in all more clearing of the site that doesn’t need consent or where consent has been granted.

Actual demolition on the site is a bit of grey area consent wise, in most cases I don’t think planning consent would be required as it isn’t a conservation area, however local authority planning department and environment agency involvement will be needed for some things mainly because of Manston being on the aquifer.  

If for instance the current owners want to remove the runway, I think they would be obliged to consult with those agencies to ensure that they did this in a way that wouldn’t damage the aquifer.

This is rather in the same sort of bracket that you need planning permission to build a garage in your garden but you don’t necessarily need planning permission to knock down a garage in your garden, but would be advised to inform the council if you are going to.

I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding going around that parliament could actually force TDC to engage in a cpo with an indemnity partner that TDC had rejected, this just isn’t the case.

If the department of transport makes any significant changes to which airports they consider to be important, this is highly unlikely to happen until well after the general election when the new government had become established.

I will leave you with a picture of the traditional Thanet Tea Ceremony, in this case being performed in Margate. The timing of the ceremony can be varied with a 240-volt kettle as this type of generator offers a 110-volt output, which allows for the slower boiling method. As an ex engineer this is often used in areas where members of the populace are technically described as "well fit" used less in areas of gba. 

Obviously it takes a highly skilled water engineer to fully comprehend what is happening in the picture.

As a bookseller I can usually offer further reading.

Today's most strange Kent tweet has to be this one from Kent emergency services.


  1. Love comments like this on Save Manston Facebook group moaning about decisions made in 1926 !!!

    "Mark Crutchlow - Imagine if the short sighted morons that shut the line could have foreseen Westwood Cross. We could have a tram link between Margate and Ramsgate! Probably the same mind-set that can't see any future in an airport!
    10 hrs · Likes · 14"

  2. I think there must be something wrong with me. When I read the postings on SMA they seem to attack everybody and anybody for being dumb, morons, stupid etc. etc. After spending 7 years at university and obtaining 3 degrees, I am regarded by many as being quite intelligent and my job certainly requires me to be creative and forward-thinking. But when I read the SMA site, I can't see the great intelligence that must lie within. All I can see is persistent demands to reopen an airport which closed months ago and cannot, realistically, be reopened. Am I really a moron?

  3. If you wanted to remove the runway at Manston and make a profit in disposal of the waste, a local brick making factory would make sense. Now where did I read about plans for a concrete block manufacturing plant being built locally?

  4. This is Thanet mate so your idea would be bound to face hardcore opposition.

  5. 11.19. O'Regan Group certainly seem to have experience in clearing brownfield sites - perhaps they have an eye to bidding for, or acting as sun-contractor, fot the Manston runway remaoval. A concrete re-processing plant at Ramsgate Port may make sense for that eventuality - particularly if concerns about the aquifer mean there would be constraits on the re-cycling operation at Manston.

  6. 10.37

    Is it just co-incidence that O'Regan Group turns up, advised by former TDC planning officers, shortly after TDC effectively puts the final nail in Manston's coffin?

  7. Michael re the 7am tablet reboot, have you looked at the "scheduled power on and off" in the Setting App?. By default the on off have times allocated but are not activated, I wonder if the Paypay app may have changed the defaults.

  8. Anon 3.13 as far as I see it doesn't make much difference with a tablet as you will probably have to reboot it daily fro it to run reasonably well, so if it isn't set to reboot you will probably have to reboot it and re sign on at the beginning of the working day anyway.

  9. The runway won't be dug up without TDC's knowledge. For a demolition project of this size, the owners would need to talk to the council's environmental services to agree things like the hours when they will be operating and making noise, the dust levels and the numbers of heavy vehicles going in and out. However, none of these things present a major impediment and I imagine the demolition will be able to proceed quite quickly. I don't see any issue with the aquifer because it is way down and surface work isn't going to impact unless you are releasing contaminated fluids into the ground.


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