Official No Night Flights response to the RSP consultation

This has been a huge undertaking but finally submitted today is our response to the RSP consultation.  A huge task because we have collated all the information sent to us by NNF members who attended consultation events, we have trawled through the weighty yet strangely lacking in substance RSP reports and we have cross-checked and referenced everything throughout.

We’ve also been able to include results from our survey over the last 48 hours which has unleashed the fury of so many people who have felt cheated, patronised, ignored and lied to by the RSP consultation.  You will find people’s comment in the appendices of the document you can find through clicking on the link below.

NNF response to RSP SCC (1)

What do people who live under the flight path think about RSP’s consultation?

Given how the airport supporters consistently claim that 98% of Thanet supports RSP’s plans for a 24/7 cargo hub airport, it was interesting to see that they could only get 286 people to respond to their survey about RSP’s consultation.

We decided we could do better even though it was only 48 hours before the end of the consultation.  We carried out our own online survey among our supporters to see if we could get more than 286 people to respond in such a short period of time. By 2pm on Sunday 23rd July, we started pulling the data together although people are still completing the survey as we speak.

318 people responded.

79% of them live in CT11 – Ramsgate

8% live in CT6 – Herne Bay

5% live in CT 12 – Ramsgate, Minster, Cliffsend, Monkton, Manston

4% live in CT10 – Broadstairs

3% live in CT9 – Margate

1% live in CT8 – Westgate-on-Sea

And we had a couple of respondents from Deal and Canterbury

As you can see, unlike many of the airport supporters, ours are drawn from the people most affected by RSP’s plans, people who, in the main, live under the flight path.

ConsultationFlightPathAttendEventsConvenientSufficientLengthHowwaseventDocumentationRSPProposals1RSPProposals2WhatDidYouThink

Here is a fuller analysis of the survey results.

The vast majority of respondent, 89%, live under the flight path of the old Manston airport and would be directly impacted by the RSP proposals.  A resounding majority, 89%, had not been directly informed, by mail or leaflet, of the RSP consultation, with only 35 respondents answering positively to this question and 5 people not responding.

NNF had obviously publicised the consultation and the consultation events to its members, indeed, NNF had distributed 40, 000 leaflets across the flight path given that RSP had neglected to directly inform the vast majority of residents and businesses most affected but had only been able to do so after the events had taken place.  This meant that the majority of people were unaware of the events and could not attend.

Of our respondents, 206 had not been able to attend an event.  It should be noted that our respondents were drawn from a pool of established NNF supporters who were at least aware of the events.  Even so, only 34% had been able to attend any of the consultation events.  Nearly unanimously, 98% of of our participants felt that the consultation was not of sufficient length given the scale and nature of the proposed project with only 2% agreeing that it was of sufficient length.

Of those that did manage to attend an event:

  • 87% felt the event was disappointing in terms of the information available
  • 86% felt the event did not provide everything they needed to be sufficiently informed about the proposal
  • 82% felt the responses from staff at the event were unhelpful, lacking in detail and/or contradictory
  • Only 14% felt the event provided ample opportunity to ask questions
  • Only 14% felt the event was welcoming and non-threatening
  • Only 4% felt the event provided sufficient information on which to form a judgement regarding the proposal
  • Only 4% felt the event was well-staffed by informed representatives

Respondents struggled to find/access documentation with some unable to do so. Even those who did manage to access the documentation struggled to make sense of it.  Only 29 respondents found it accessible to read in language and length.  Only 13 found if sufficiently informative and only 2 said that they found it sufficiently referenced through sources accessible to them as members of the public.

Regarding the business case and proposal itself, there were real deficiencies that our survey highlighted. 258 respondents had been able to access and read the information/documentation and responded as below:

  • 96% felt there was insufficient information on timings of anticipated flights
  • 95% felt there was insufficient information on numbers and timings of scheduled might flights
  • 93% felt there was insufficient information on the environmental impact
  • 93% felt there was insufficient information on noise contours
  • 91% felt there was insufficient information on flight paths
  • 90% felt there was insufficient information on the number and type of aircraft anticipated
  • 90% felt there was insufficient information on the social and economic impact
  • 89% felt there was insufficient information on pollution
  • 89%felt there was insufficient information on mitigation for those most negatively impacted.
  • 88% felt there was insufficient information on hours of airport operation
  • 83% felt there was insufficient information on evidence of investment
  • 81% felt there was insufficient information on public safety zones
  • 9% felt there was insufficient information on their business plan
  • 73% felt there was insufficient information on their delivery strategy
  • 70% felt there was insufficient information on the physical development of the site
  • 4% were satisfied that sufficient information was provided on all/most of the areas.

 

 

The NNF survey, in an extremely tight time frame, managed to hear from 318 members.  The airport supporters managed only 286 responses to their survey despite running it for over 2 weeks.  What is evident is that the RSP statutory consultation has failed to reach the vast majority of people who will be most affected by their proposals. This is on of the most serious flaws in this consultation.  Added to this, as evidenced in this survey, are failings with regard to the events, the staff, the information, the business case and the proposal itself.

The vast majority of respondents here come from Ramsgate and Thanet and are extremely unhappy with the way they have been treated by RSP and with proposals that lack any real information or detail on which to form a judgement.

Our consultation survey – make your views known!

We’re in the last days of the RSP consultation and we know that many, many of you have been writing both as individuals and making submissions as representatives of groups.

Please take less than 5 minutes to complete our consultation survey which will help us feed back to Thanet District Council and the Planning Inspectorate.  Click on red link below.

Consultation survey

We’ve been getting such a great response to our survey (link above) with so many of you writing comments.  Here are just a few below:

Unbelievable that they can even think of flying so many planes over an area that has so many listed properties that will not take the strain – Ramsgate has suffered enough so give it time to regenerate. Yes, it’s always been an airport but not a CARGO AIRPORT!

Another here:

I found RSP’s chirpy & buoyant presentation in Ramsgate very offensive, given the terrible impact their proposals threaten to unleash on the town of Ramsgate (which has improved & flourished immensely since Manston closed down). All the significant blight issues of 24h flight noise, pollution etc. completely bulldozed under a slick presentation of a benign `fantasy airfield’ illustrated with a Toy Town architectural model.

And another:

I am furious that no one on my neighbourhood were informed of the consultation. The original proposal of a 2km radius amended to 3km is outrageous considering 1000s of residents are directly under the flight path. I am also flabbergasted that the chosen national newspaper as a channel for publicising the consultation was The Times (considering the demographic of Thanet). The extent of social media exposure was a twitter feed and Facebook page. Hardly comprehensive. I had to find out from a friend in Minster but many others have not had an opportunity because they had no idea the consultation was occurring.

And another:

Found staff antagonistic once they realised that I had concerns about their proposal leading to them turning their back and walking away. They appeared to only want to talk to supporters.
Questions such as “where do the cargo airlines go now and would jobs be lost or moved from those destinations” could not or would not be answered.

Try to encourage your friends, neighbours, work colleagues to write.  Remember, write to the Planning Inspectorate, to Thanet District Council and to RSP themselves and keep a copy of what you have sent and when you sent it.

The addresses you need are:

PINS. manstonairport@pins.gsi.gov.uk
RSP. manston@communityrelations.co.uk
TDC iain.livingstone@thanet.gov.uk

Make sure you make clear your objections not just to the proposal itself but the consultation process.

Does RSP’s business case stand up? The short answer is no.

Everything stands or falls on RSP’s business case.  The reams and reams of documentation that they have provided is surprisingly slight on hard, cold evidence.

They claim that the south east is desperate for a major new cargo hub and that the lack of capacity in the south east in terms of freight is forcing business to truck their goods in and out of the UK instead of flying them in.  In addition, lack of capacity means that even those operators already established at other airports are going to be looking for slots elsewhere.

But there’s plenty of capacity, perhaps surprisingly, at other airports. Remember, most cargo is carried in the belly of passenger flights.  With increased passenger expansion at Heathrow, there’s plenty of capacity for extra freight.  Stansted too has capacity for expansion of both its passenger and freight operations.  East Midlands has capacity.  East Midlands and Stansted handle 70% of all dedicated freight flights. At the consultations, RSP denied this to be true.  NNF decided to contact Stansted directly and were told categorically that there was plenty of capacity there.  For day flights. For night flights. For passenger flights.  For dedicated cargo flights.

The 20 million tonnes of cargo each year being trucked in and out of the UK because there is no capacity at airports in the south east – the claim RSP make and on which they predicate their business model – looks more than shaky.  There may be all sorts of very good reasons as to why some freight is moved around in this way, not least cost. What is clear, however, is that RSP present as a ‘fact’ 20 millions of tonnes of cargo’ simply waiting for an airport to open in order that it can be flown in (or out) without a shred of evidence to support this claim.

Is is any wonder that the Campaign for Rural England (Kent) this week commented that the owners of the site have more ‘realistic’ plans?

With a business case that is not supported by evidence and residents left completely uninformed in crucial areas, the case for taking private property from its rightful owners is lacking all credibility.

Keep up the mail to the Planning Inspectorate!

Many have been writing to the Planning Inspectorate to complain about the way that RSP have been conducting their consultation.  Some of these letters are published on their website here but many people are being asked by the Planning Inspectorate to submit their complaints to Thanet District Council and to RSP themselves.

If you have not already, I would advise for you to share your concerns with the appropriate technical department within Thanet District Council in order that they may be considered in the Council’s  preparation of its Adequacy of Consultation Representation; if an application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

In turn, at NNF we’ve been asking people to do exactly that.  However, we note:

There is no statutory duty under the PA2008 for relevant local authorities to ‘collate and report complaints’ to the Planning Inspectorate; but where an Adequacy of Consultation Representation is received the Planning Inspectorate must have regard to it (or them) in making its decision about whether an application is of a satisfactory standard to proceed to be examined.

This leaves us concerned.  Our district council has not statutory duty to collate and report complaints and we know that responses and complaints to RSP have gone ‘missing’ in the past which leaves us to ask – who exactly is going to have a record of the many, many complaints that people have been making?  The safest thing is to keep sending to all three and to make sure that you keep a record yourselves.  Feel free to let us have a copy too.

Richard Price | National Infrastructure Case Manager
Major Applications & Plans

Temple Quay House, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN

Direct Line: 0303 444 5654
Helpline: 0303 444 5000
Email: richard.price@pins.gsi.gov.uk

Web: infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk (National Infrastructure Planning)

Web: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/planning-inspectorate (The Planning Inspectorate)

Twitter: @PINSgov