Thanet Council says "no" to night flights
MANSTON airport's plans to run as many as eight flights a night failed to get the support of Thanet District Council last night after a final crunch vote.
Opinions divided along party lines at the extraordinary council meeting as the Labour administration motioned a rejection of the airport's proposals.
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Council leader Clive Hart said the council's consultation response was based on the results of an independent review of the airport's proposals and the council's own consultation with residents.
Conservatives argued that a vote against night flights was a vote against jobs for the area.
Conservative group leader Bob Bayford said that a ban on all aircraft movements between 11pm and 7am was a "straight jacket" for the airport.
He said: "At best it will delay the development of the airport, a worst it will kill the airport."
Mr Bayford added that it was "dangerous" for the council to base its response on a "seriously flawed" in-house consultation in which 73 percent of respondents opposed night time flying.
Laughter came from the packed public gallery when Mr Bayford pointed out the Manston Airport's own consultation of residents showed 79 per cent being in support of night flights.
Mr Hart defended the in-house consultation saying it had the greatest response of any to date.
He said: "The results have been extremely conclusive and it wasn't at all close."
The response stated the council's support of the day-time operation of Manston airport but said the council would not support night-time flying on the basis of its own consultation and the council-commissioned Parsons-Brinckerhoff report.
Listing the objections, the report said the noise and environmental impacts had been underestimated by airport, the economic benefits of night flights were overestimated and that the impact on Thanet's tourism would be detrimental.
It also pointed to concerns raised in the World Health Organisation's assessment of the impacts of disturbed sleep and added that the night flight proposals had not considered Article 8 of the Human rights Act- the right to respect for private and family life.
The motion to adopt the response was won after Labour got the support of the council's two independent groups.
The Conservatives voted unanimously not to support the response but were out-numbered.
Phil Rose of the No Night Flights campaign and Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston Airport, watched the meeting from the public gallery.
Mr Rose said: "It is a good result and I am very, very pleased that the council came out following the recommendations of the independent reports. They have listened to the views of the people."
Mr Buchanan said the airport will take the vote into consideration and formulate its response.
He said: "All we have ever asked for a limited number of night flights with mitigation measures. The result is disappointing but entirely predictable"."
The council's response will not be binding as the council is only a consultee in Manston's own consultation of its night-time flying policy.
A separate residents' petition against night flights, presented to the council last week, was also noted.
It had collected 2682 signatures but only 777 were valid as the others did not include an address.