Night flying fuels fresh Manston airport fight
AN INDEPENDENT group set up to advise on the development of Manston airport has said no to more night flights.
Kent International Airport Consultative Committee chairman Paul Twyman told a meeting of Thanet council’s airport working group that while there should be a balance of “economic and environmental interests”, he was against changing current night policy.
An existing section 106 planning agreement restricts flying between 11pm and 7am. Although it expired in 2003 the agreement will remain in effect until a new one is signed by Thanet council and airport owners Infratil.
On February 12 Infratil persuaded Thanet council to hold an emergency meeting requesting a temporary extension of flying times to 6am to 11.30pm in a bid to attract a new airline operator.
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The council was told the reason was so the company could attract British Airways World Cargo which, Infratil said, would create more than 400 jobs. After the council agreed to the changes, BAWC’s move from Stansted Airport was cancelled. Night flights are now supposed to adhere to the original terms.
On Tuesday KIACC vice chairman Nick Cole told working party members that aircraft noise is a problem for residents and raised a question over the whereabouts of noise monitoring equipment.
Mr Twyman said: “On the western take-off route planes should turn at about 1.2 miles to avoid villages but they have not done this.
“We have had a number of excuses over the years and I now think routes need to be clearly defined. We have to have some mechanism to ensure that these routes are kept to.
“In a good airport there should be good noise monitoring and we don’t seem to have mobile noise monitoring.”
KIACC committee member Malcolm Kirkaldie said: “If someone wants to complain about noise or planes not sticking to routes it has to be done within 15 days but Infratil takes an awfully long time and doesn’t have to come back to us in 15 days, 20 days or 30 days.”
Thanet council planning boss Brian White said: “We get separate complaints from residents about noise. Of course there has been and still is duplication of complaints. We are talking to Infratil about sharing a website with the airport.”
Mr Twyman said: “The local authority needs a big stick it can wield at Infratil when they don’t behave themselves. I think there have to be steep or steeper penalties for people flying outside the agreed hours. We must try to build noise reduction into our plans.”
After the meeting airport working group chairman Mike Harrison said: “Infratil has to apply to us for a night-time flying policy which will trigger a six-month consultation process.”
Ramsgate councillor David Green, who was in the audience, said: “It seems to me to be the same old questions and the same old answers. The existing 106 agreement ran out years ago but there is a clause that enables it to continue until another is created. Talking to KIACC was another stage in the process but nothing can happen to address issues until Infratil applies to extend a building, build a new terminal or for an amendment to night flights because the agreement is attached to a planning decision.”
Steve Higgins, of the Stop Manston Expansion Group, said: “The council need to engage with the community before they make any changes to the policy on night flying.”