On a scale of 1-10 how surprised are you?

We learn today that RSP has withdrawn its application to the Planning Inspectorate for a Development Consent Order for the Manston site.

Whaaaaaat? – we hear you cry.  Yes, yet again their cast-iron, superbly-professional, expertly-put-together portfolio of evidence and business plans seems to fail to pass muster.  Why do we conclude this? Well, the letter produced below says that they will be resubmitting.  Why withdraw in the first place?  It can only be, surely, that they’ve been given the nod, or have worked out for themselves, that their submission is unlikely to be passed in its current form.  Yes, current form – the thousands and thousands of pages of documentation that they have consistently assured their followers would guarantee smooth and swift passage.

So, is it the inadequacy of their consultation that is being called into question? We certainly hope so.

Does it have anything to do with the fact that Stone Hill Park has submitted more detailed plans to Thanet District Council (TDC), plans that are likely to have more substance as regards environmental impact assessments and that will be publicly available shortly? Hmmmm.


What IS Kent County Council’s view on Manston?

With potential now, given Sajiv Javid’s recent letter to TDC (see previous blog post), for KCC to play a role in getting a Local Plan for Thanet approved, many are asking about KCC’s view.

Over the years, the Conservative-run KCC supported the development of Manston as an airport believing that it could be a major contributor to the East Kent and wider economy.  Facts, evidence and circumstance changed their mind.  In 2015, this was Paul Carter, Leader of the Council, on the changed view at the end of a damning report on both the failure of Manston over the years and the prospects of RSP, particularly when set against the owners’ record.  The full report can be found here.

“The truth is that Manston has failed over a prolonged period of time to run as a commercially successful airport.  Kent County Council gave strong support to various  investors but the reality of commercial aviation at Manston Airport led to very significant losses. In fact, in the 16 years since it was taken into privately ownership it has incurred losses by those who have tried to operate it in excess of £100 million.

The objective now must therefore be to make sure that we have owners who want to do exciting things on the site and that the land is not left abandoned. Bristow Group had chosen Manston as its location for the regional search and rescue base; when the airport closed the company decided to locate that base at Lydd. Kent County Council is pleased that this vital service will still be located in Kent. Lydd Airport is also starting a substantial investment programme to extend its runway and construct new aviation facilities.

Surely it is now time to look at a B Plan for Manston.  The driver must be to seize the best opportunity to create  a significant number of new jobs and bring prosperity into East Kent.  RiverOak has not managed to convince Thanet District Council that there is a viable business plan. We believe the new owners have got a credible plan and the financial ability to create substantial numbers of new jobs which will bring prosperity and economic growth to East Kent.”

No Night Flights repeatedly, over the years, sought to produce evidence to help change the minds of Paul Carter and others at KCC.  Given overwhelming evidence and conversations with owners’ Infratil and Ann Gloag following the demise of the airport, Carter and the administration at KCC became convinced that there was no viable aviation option at Manston, that there were no viable operators with viable plans, that the owners had credible alternative plans and that the economies and communities in Thanet, East Kent and wider Kent deserved real investment and real regeneration.

Makes sense to us.

Time for an intervention

TDC councillors were warned.  Warned by officers at the council.  Warned by Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.  Warned by us.  Warnings galore.

Warned about what? Warned that failure to produce an evidence-based Local Plan would result in intervention in our local planning affairs.  We elect local representatives to do exactly that, represent us and make local decisions in the best interests of local people.  What that doesn’t mean is populism.  What that doesn’t mean is decision-making by gut instinct or emotion.  What that doesn’t mean is politicking in one’s own interest or narrow party political interest.  It means looking coolly and calmly at the evidence before you and acting accordingly.  TDC councillors rejected that approach, against the advice of officers, and were warned that their responsibilities, as given to them by the electors of Thanet, could be taken from them meaning that decisions about our local communities could be taken by outsiders at either regional or national level. Cheers for that.

Despite assurances from a Conservative councillor that Sajid Javid had been in conversation with Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay and that Javid had offered assurances about extra time being given to TDC to deliver a local plan, we now see Javid doing exactly what he threatened to do to all councils failing to deliver a local plan. The urgent need for local plans to deliver the housing desperately needed to help solve the national housing crisis is driving this and Javid is clearly in no mood to pander to councils’ nimbyism.
So Javid says “In summary, …the District COuncil resolved to reject the recommendation of officers to publish the draft Local Plan and is therefore failing to meet its deadline for publication of a Plan, in accordance with your published Local Development SCheme.” NOte: “reject the recommendation of officers”
He goes on to say ” The District Council’s argument to justify this failure sets out two inter-related circumstances – the local debate over the future of Manston Airport and the need to undertake further work to identify alternative sites after the Plan failed to proceed. I consider that these are not exceptional circumstances….”.
NOT exceptional circumstances. Much as the airport supporters want to claim that Manston is of unique, national significance, in the real world, it’s simply not the case.
We wait to see what intervention looks likeliest from the proposals in the letter and can only hope that this prompts more sensible, evidence-based thinking, such as KCC has previously shown in relation to Manston, than seems possible within the TDC chambers.
Meanwhile, local people aren’t happy. And rightly so.  They’ve been fed fake story after fake story.

No more air pollution!

It’s very difficult to talk about air pollution without giving facts and figures which are difficult to understand. However here is some useful information:


To quote  RiverOak (RSP) “There is health evidence drawn from the scientific literature that allows potential impacts on mortality and rates of certain diseases due to changes in noise and air pollutant exposure to be predicted quantitatively (in numerical terms). The scientific evidence shows that, depending on the level of noise or air pollution concentration, these may affect diseases of the heart, lungs and circulation system, mental health and wellbeing, and the overall risk of premature death.”


In recent years, airplane crashes have killed about a thousand people annually, whereas plane emissions kill about ten thousand people each year.

Jet fuel is actually quite similar to diesel fuel. Aircraft exhaust gasses, like car exhausts, contains a variety of air pollutants, including Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate Matter (or soot) and Sulphur Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide – Contributes to global warming. A plane like a Boeing 747 uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel every second and 1,200 gallons on take-off.  On average, one air mile produces 53.3 pounds of carbon dioxide. One flight from New York, to Los Angeles, (about 2,450 miles) generates a little over 60 tons of carbon dioxide.

Carbon monoxide – Inhaled carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen; overexposure may be fatal. Prolonged exposure renders red blood cells ineffective, full recovery from moderate to severe CO poisoning takes hours or days.

Nitrogen Oxides – 23,500 premature deaths are linked to NO2 pollution every year. It inflames the lining of the lungs and makes them more susceptible to illnesses such as bronchitis. It affects every single one of us, but the impact on people with asthma is particularly acute. Modern diesel engines inject AdBlue into their exhaust systems, which converts Nitrogen Oxides into Water Vapour and harmless Nitrogen.

Sulfur dioxide – This is what causes acid rain.

Particulate matter – This is soot with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) They are able to bypass the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the circulatory system. This leads to premature death from heart and lung disease and can trigger or worsen chronic disease such as asthma, bronchitis. Children and older adults are especially vulnerable. Particulate filters in car exhausts (unlike on aircraft) can reduce Particle Matter emissions by more than 90%.

Thanet District Council does not currently undertake any monitoring of PM2.5, and consequently there are currently no measures in place to specifically address PM2.5 concentrations within the District. 



Still confused about night flights?

RSP has said it will submit the Development Consent Order (DCO) application this month.  They’ve said this before, of course, but we await their submission.  We know that their consultations to date have been flawed, inadequate and certainly less than transparent as to their plans.

Residents frequently say – ‘oh but they don’t want night flights, they don’t need night flights’ whilst tucked away in their documentation they make reference to the ‘significant adverse impact’ on Ramsgate, in particular, and schools, homes and other buildings specifically.

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