Friday 30 June 2017

Manston DCO RSP Consultation first draft to the first question

I have just started to try to respond to the RSP consultation, this is based on attending both the non statutory and statutory consultations session in Canterbury and having read a lot of the information provided on their website at

I think the main difficulty with these documents is that instead of being published on the internet as conventional websites containing text and illustrations, the website is just a massive collection of pictures of pages of text, making it very difficult to assimilate. Part of the problem is that as such it is impossible to search for phrases you have already read, to find them again.

Were this for instance a website selling me book stock for my bookshop, this method of web publication would make it impossible to generate a stock order economically.    

The first question is.

Q 2 business case.

As you can see there is no linkage between the question and the related documents, the links to which are only published here and have titles like “04 – PEIR Volume 3 (Chapters 12 to 14)”

So very difficult to respond to, an absolute dog’s breakfast in fact.

Anyway here is my first draft at a response to question 2, which is basically. “What do you think of our business case?”  

I think for Manston to work as an airport it would need to be primarily operated as a heritage aviation tourist attraction perhaps based on a HFL grant and funding from aviation enthusiasts and focused around the expansion of the two existing museums.  It is possible that at times this could work in parallel with the limited local aviation demands.

As was the case with many previous business cases for aviation activity at Manston, the main issue is a misunderstanding of the words “hub” and “southeast” hub in this instance should be close to the centre of the area it serves and southeast in the context Southeast England is a roughly triangular area the three corners, which are northwest Oxfordshire, southwest Hampshire and northeast Kent. In terms of forming a hub for the southeast these corners are the worst locations.

I think the main issue here may be thinking of a hub airport as planes flying along the spokes of an imaginary wheel, when in reality it is passengers and freight moving along the spokes to and from the airport by rail and road.

The best, most central location, to the southeast is the Greater London Surrey border, which has the two existing major airports, one at either end of it. As very little of the commercial or industrial activity in the southeast is located in the southeast corner of the southeast this means that virtually none this activity is closer to Manston than the two existing major and competitive airports.

Because of a combination of road layout (particularly the UK motorway layout) and geography of the southeast regions of: - Oxfordshire, Bucks. Berkshire, Hampshire, IOW, Greater London, Surry, Sussex and Kent, travelling to Manston from almost any significant location outside Kent would involve passing close to one or both of the existing major airports. So for example a journey from Brighton to Manston isn’t done by travelling northeast towards Manston, but either by road or rail, it is done by travelling north past Gatwick and then east.

I think part of the most recent problem, which was the failure of Infratil, a major NZ company to succeed with an airport at Manston, was the tendency to think in distances considered negligible in NZ, without properly understanding actual travel habits and infrastructure in the UK.

A further major disadvantage Manston has with its main potential competitors, Gatwick and Heathrow, is that it isn’t, and isn’t likely to be connected to the jet fuel pipeline. This would add both economic and environmental costs of fuel there.

The first attempts to operate commercial flights from Manston started in the late 1950s Silver City (Britavia) which moved to Gatwick in 1962, Air Ferries the first proper airline started flying from Manston in 1963 this went bankrupt in 1968, this was followed by a 60 year history airport operator failure on the Manston site.

This business case appears have been written by some members of the same team that put together the last Manston business case for the Infratil when the airport was still operational and appears to based on similar very optimistic assertions. I think it has to be appreciated that Infratil are a large experienced and profitable company which run Wellington Airport (5.5m passengers a year) at a profit and not only did they reject this case but sold the Manston site suffering a considerable financial loss, because they thought it unviable, both in terms of the real business they were able to attract and the potential business which was forecast.

I suppose the bottom line here is that local residents, like myself are only aware of the applicants website, there doesn’t seem to be a physical RiverOak or RSP company employing non executive staff at normal business premises producing something tangible or some tangible service. When RiverOak first appeared on the scene their website claimed they were experienced airport operators and as their company has evolved during the DCO pre-application stage, moving the Manston project from where it featured as the main project of an experienced aviation company to where it appeared to be the UK branch of an experienced company to which appears to have no physical address and no history.

Obviously a project of this magnitude whether it succeeds or fails would have a significant impact on this area and commenting on the business case related to a business and related businesses without any defined history, similar business assets is very difficult and quite different from a case where I was commenting on say a business case produced by an existing airport operator.

There is also a sense in which this is a choice between RSP and the site owners Stonehill Park where the business owners have a good track record of running a successful business locally that has resulted in a substantial amount of jobs and economic regeneration in this area.


I have now discovered that if you download the page on a pc you get a different version to the version you can see when you first open the page and this version is searchable. I for instance have just downloaded: - “PIER Volume 8 (Appendix 10.1 part2)” all 408 pages of it.

To be honest it isn’t easy to define just what’s wrong with these documents, nearest I can get is, if you asked a firm to design you a new kitchen and send you their plans, sounds reasonable doesn’t it?

However if they then sent you a description of your exiting kitchen, which included the full text of all of the food labels and cookery books in the old kitchen’ whilst omitting important information, like how much your new kitchen would cost or what colour or shape it would be. Then you are on the right lines.

Somehow they have managed to publish several of the maps embedded in pdfs that open as web pages in a way that you only see the corner of the map often omitting Manston.

These are not huge maps, I have just copied one and published it on the internet using ordinary html 

This isn’t really a matter of how you send the thing but trying to make some sense of it prior to submitting it 

Anyway here is an interesting local picture to cheer me up after a near impossible task

Jane Weston & Sue Lomas at York Street Gallery in Ramsgate

The current exhibition is by Jane Weston & Sue Lomas Exhibition - 28 June - 5 July Exhibitions change weekly on Wednesdays.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Royal Victoria Pavilion porch pictures.

I think it was back sometime in the 1970s probably when the casino, at that time called Tiberius, moved from the old Marina Pool site into the Pavilion that the ornate domed porch was demolished.

Certainly a long time after the building was listed, naughty, anyhow it's good to see it being rebuilt. 

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Some old Ramsgate pictures, lots of local history books put out in the bookshop and for some reason Peppa the Pig.

I think the old Ramsgate pictures are fairly well described in the text on them, pictures should expand if clicked on a couple of times

A busy day in the bookshop today, as is often the case a lot of local history went out on the shelves, here is the link

As you see business on the Peppa the Pig front has also been brisk.

On the whole Peppa customers are easier to deal with than local history customers who failed to come into the bookshop and work back through the Ramsgate street directories, so didn’t realise their street had been renumbered, so have actually been researching the history of someone else’s house for the last five years. 

Monday 26 June 2017

A few Ramsgate photos

The Albion hotel was demolished to make way for Madeira walk and National Westminster Bank that was built in the 1890s, the pictures here should expand with a bit of enthusiastic clicking 
 Harbour Parade in the 1800s
The domed building, harbour commissioners rooms was demolished in 1890
 These photos taken this evening, the air is fairly clear today
 making it easier to see in the distance,
 although not so easy in the direction of the sun
the cliffs in the distance are France, I think, also note the ship pumping out a cloud of exhaust.

We have been moving book sections around in the bookshop today, this isn’t so much a sort of M&S method of confusing customers as a reflection of changes in popularity of different subjects because of the internet.

In this case there has been an increase in music book sales, musicians biographies and music scores, both classical and wosisname while books about the movies and film star biographies are seeing a decline in sales.

But what does it all mean? Anyway here is the link to the books that went out on the shelves   

Sunday 25 June 2017

Manston Airport Consultation drop in sessions initial thoughts and out and about Ramsgate photos today

The various companies that have gone under various names containing the word Riveroak and have had some of the same senior management team but none of which ever seem to have had any non senior management staff held another series of drop in sessions relating to their desire to have some part of government use government powers to take the Manston site from its current owners, for them, held another series of public drop in sessions last week.

This relates to Manston airport which started commercial operations in the 1960s with Air Ferry Ltd and following a series of operator bankruptcies starting with Air Ferry Ltd and finishing with Plane Station Ltd finally closed in 2014 after going through the hands of a couple of operators to big to go bust.

At the moment it belongs to the group that rescued the Pfizer site in Sandwich and is now the largest source of local employment. Their plans are for light industry and housing and as we need the jobs, have to build the houses somewhere in Thanet and they have a proven track record, it would seem most likely that this is what will happen. They own the site, have already run a local site that provides hundreds of much needed local jobs and having sold the Pfizer site presumably have the money.

This is the link to their website

The last RiverOak drop in session I went to was back in July 2016 and here is the link to some of the posts I wrote about this back then

This time around I noticed that the Ramsgate session was very short and as Ramsgate would be the main town affected by aircraft noise I assumed the session would be far too crowded so I went to the Canterbury one, which as Canterbury isn’t affected was pretty much deserted.

Having tried fairly hard at the last session and in subsequent emails to get my concerns across I was expecting some understanding of the main environmental issues, that I first raised with the RiverOak team about a year ago, to be going along the road to solutions.

The two main issues being Particulate pollution and its impact on public health and noise pollution over Ramsgate and how any insulation scheme would operate in a large conservation area, with so many listed buildings.

The don’t seem to have done any work on either issue, this is something that makes it very difficult to follow what they intend. Their main concerns seem to be related to conforming to the minimum requirements required by The Department for Transport to initiate a Development Consent Order and honestly the Riveroak representatives I spoke to just didn’t seem to have a good grasp of the environmental impact of an airfreight hub.

I will use the particulate air pollution issue to illustrate what I mean here.

Now I would guess that most people have heard about the recent change of attitude towards diesel road vehicles due to the discovery that the tiny particles that come out of their exhaust pipes are killing people.

The exhaust coming from a jet engine is much worse, mainly because no one has worked out a way of attaching the catalytic converters and filters that go on road vehicles, but also because burning jet engine fuel produces a lot of particles.

It is important to appreciate the government is very concerned about the effects on people living upwind of major road junctions where as much as 10 tons of diesel is burn in a year.

Part of the proposals for the Manston DCO is that there will 10,000 freight plane movements there a year, now a freight plane like a 747 burns 1 tonne of fuel per ground movement. It burns around 1 gallon of fuel per second with a takeoff burning around 2.5 tonnes.

Speaking to two of Riveroak's environmental specialists and realising that they just hadn't a clue how much fuel a freight plane burns and just couldn't seem to grasp the figures I think sums up the whole problem for me.

Thanet already has reasonably high levels of particulate air pollution, like the rest of the southeast this is due to the prevailing wind direction across the south of the uk.

Particulate pollution kills people in considerable numbers, here is the Wiki article roughly every doubling of the background level increases the chances of lung cancer by about 35%. The latest research points at it being the main cause of alzheimer's.

Like the business with scrapping diesel cars the research and information is all fairly recent and the only airport I know of where the particulate pollution has been measures is Los Angeles

Here is the map showing how much and how far.

Next the out and about photos taken in Ramsgate today

finally the latest books to go out in the bookshop

Friday 23 June 2017

Old photo from Ramsgate Harbour crosswall and Manston DCO drop in

Interesting Ramsgate Harbour photo this one, it dates from before 1890 although I don’t know exactly when
 This detail from the photo above shows the harbour trustee’s committee house this copper domed building with a balcony overlooking the harbour was demolished in 1890.

This detail from the same photo shows the swing bridge mechanism for beige over the now filled in easterly of the lock gates.

As part of the Manston DCO consultation there will be a drop in information session in Ramsgate tomorrow Saturday 24 June at The Comfort Inn, Ramsgate, from10am to 2pm. This event is open to any member of the public that would like to attend.

If you are interested in Manston Airport and the possibly of its reopening, I would strongly recommend going to the session if you can.  

For the dedicated bibliophiles here is the link the books that went out in the bookshop in Ramsgate today  

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Couple of old Ramsgate photos and some out and about snaps

Bit of trouble with my hypotenuse this evening I think, this lot of Ramsgate snaps seem even squiffer than usual. Anyway here is the link

I have decided it’s to do with the heat and expect the weather to break tomorrow as it’s my day off.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Shop window dressing in Ramsgate

As a shop assistant there are moments when I can only aspire to that great shop assistant Mr Humphries whose mirror image John Inman would go shop-window dressing when he contracted skinttitis out on the boards.

So I have been following –  like a fourth doppelganger, he, his mirror image, a long line of Ramsgate shop-assistants and possibly the evolution of the arm, down the road of linking it all up.

In the world where most booksellers and a lot of other shop-assistants have looked at the internet an thrown in the towel I very much see the internet as an aid-de-camp, sorry I think I mean de livre.

So for some time now I have been putting photos of the books going out on the shelves in my bookshop on the internet every working day, see I have extended this activity into window dressing. 

So the plan now is that having priced the new secondhand books coming into the bookshop, photographed them, put the photographs online, I then take out the books I put into the window on the previous days trading and put the ones I have just processed init.

Joking apart, shops are an integral part of our communities and as now the internet has also become an integral part of local communities the way local shopping integrates with local internet is probably important in maintaining local communities.  

sorry about any errors will proof rude later 

Sunday 18 June 2017

Some Ramsgate Photos, a bit of sketching in Canterbury a hot day.

Went for a walk this morning in Ramsgate, as I have gone back to keeping a camera in my pocket I took some photos with it, the one above interested me more than usual, for anyone interested here is the link to the content of the camera card

 I went to Canterbury for the middle bit of the day and invigilated the rest of the family from Chocolate Cafe where I started a watercolour sketch. I think I like the idea of doing some sketches sitting in windows that are half of the inside and half of the outside.

Back to Ramsgate where I went for another walk around 5.30

Too hot a day to say much about the council's attitude to historic vessels as a Ramsgate tourist attraction