My letter in response to the RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) consultation on the former Manston site. I have made contact with Rosie Duffield MP and the Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Transport, Lilian Greenwood.
I am writing in the strongest terms to oppose the proposed development of the former Manston site via a DCO to changed use and from a mixed use development to an Air Cargo hub.
I write as a Ramsgate resident, a Thanet District Councillor for Newington and a County Councillor for the Ramsgate division and as a member of the Labour Party’s Economy, Business and Trade Commission. Also as someone that has attended and sought information at the consultation events last year and this year, where I was able to have lengthy and detailed conversations with Niall Lawlor ( 2017 ) and Tony Fruedmann ( 2016).
I found both these conversations left many questions unanswered, and lacked coherence and detail.
You will be aware that many of Ramsgate’s organisations are also opposing your proposals. Ramsgate Historical Society, Ramsgate Town Council and CPRE. Thousands of local residents are vehemently opposed. Many more would complain, if they knew the full facts of your proposal, which I feel you have obscured by failing to act in accordance with the Planning Act 2008, you are required to carry more thorough consultations. Residents and business have a legal right to this.
You have failed to carry out proper consultation. All those likely to be affected, i.e. those under a ‘flight path’ should have received written information plus invitations to local consultation events.
Many local people have written to me or spoken to me. Many are unaware of the detail of your proposal, imagining that the plan is for a KLM type operation. They are horrified when I clarify the details for them.
At one of the two consultations I attended I was told by Niall Lawlor that this wasn’t needed as RSP “haven’t decided which flight paths we might use and there is a flight path which only goes over 4 bungalows”. This seems spurious.
All people likely to be affected should be properly and robustly consulted.
I do not see any efficacy in your proposal re cargo. There is no evidence that 20 million tonnes of cargo is simply waiting to fly into Thanet and then onwards to the rest of the UK and the South East. There is capacity at Stanstead, Gatwick and Heathrow. Indeed there is capacity at East Midlands and East Midlands has arguably better road and rail infrastructure than Thanet.
I spoke with Niall Lawlor about increased road traffic that would be needed to bring in the vast quantities of aviation fuel. He told me that a fuel farm at the Jentex site is underway. Again I was told directly by Niall Lawlor that this site had been purchased and that discussions with both Network Rail and the fuel companies were advancing. I wish for written confirmation of that assertion please? I have raised this directly with Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury to further alert her constituents to the Manston flight path issue and fuel pipe plan. Additionally, are the people of Canterbury fully aware this fuel line will need to be put through Canterbury? Has planning permission been sought and agreed for a Manston fuel farm and have the residents of Cliffsend been consulted on that matter?
Niall Lawlor also specifically stated that the Shadow Transport Minister supports these proposals. I have now written to Lilian Greenwood MP for confirmation of that point.
Failure to secure a fuel farm, or any delay will see thousands of HGV fuel lorries on an already congested road network which will harm our economy. Our roads to London are already under pressure. Please consult KCC ‘Growth without Gridlock’ draft Local Traffic Plan 4, which highlights the current ‘pinch points’. Your HGV fuel and cargo traffic would exacerbate this existing problem hugely.
Thanet residents will have the double burden of Fuel HGVs and Air Cargo movements, with the polluting effects of both.
The Manston consultation events have been very badly advertised and are inaccessible to many people. At the events the information given has been contradicted by team members. Presentation and organisation of these events has been amateurish compared to the seriousness of the impact.
The impact on health seems to have been either ignored or brushed over, particularly the issue of night flights. Indeed in a consultation with KCC in 2014 on the matter of impact of night flights in other areas of Kent it was concluded that:
1. Department for Transport (DfT) Consultation – Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Stage 2 Consultation
Response from Kent County Council
Kent County Council (KCC) welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation. Answers provided are in regards to Gatwick Airport as its associated flights affect parts of West Kent.
Q1: Do you agree with our preliminary view as to the new studies on health effects?
Kent County Council (KCC) does not agree with the preliminary view on the new studies on health effects, as although causality between noise and the risk of cardiovascular disease is statistically unproven, the impacts on people’s lives of sleep disturbance from being awoken by aircraft noise is obvious for all affected. Therefore restrictions need to be put in place now, rather than wait for conclusions from continuing academic research.
Although further research is welcomed so that with robust evidence, the various impacts of aviation noise, including health effects, can be taken into account in economic appraisal alongside other costs and benefits; the very real and experienced impacts of sleep disturbance from aviation noise at night cannot be merely consigned to the appraisal process and weighed up against the economic benefits of night flights.
Q2: Do you have any further views on the costs and benefits, including health impacts, which we should take into account in our decision?
Health issues associated with night flight sleep disturbance should not be regarded as a cost benefit exercise in the appraisal process, but rather, a concern in its own right.
The linkages which have been made between sleep disturbance and health impairment, and the impact on productivity, are of real concern, despite causality remaining unproven. This is particularly relevant during the summer when people tend to sleep with their windows open and therefore the benefits of sound insulation are neutralised. Greater recognition must be given to the negative impact of noise on the health profile of communities who are affected by the concentration of night flights.
2. The impact of one noisy aircraft at night can have knock-on effects on sleep disruption and deprivation, therefore have productivity costs and heath costs, (albeit not statistically proven or monetised), even though subsequent aircraft movements are made by quieter aircraft, on the saying that ‘once awake, always awake.’ Therefore the noisiest aircraft (including QC/4) should be banned, and the ban extended to the entire night time period (23:00-07:00) and not just the night time quota period (23:30-06:00). This is so that people are not prevented from getting to sleep in the ‘shoulder’ period between 23:00 and 23:30, or awoken too early (if that is the case) between 06:00 and 07:00.
Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment Kent County Council
31 January 2014
The statement that night flights constitute a requirement in their own right, underpins the need for better more robust consultation. There is no doubt in my mind that you intend to proceed with night flights to and from Manston.
Manston Airport has consistently lost money. £15M lost to date. What guarantees are there that it will now, suddenly be successful? Cynically I do wonder if this is a ploy by RSP to obtain this valuable land, with the ultimate aim of building housing.
The jobs you cite will be created are doubtful and over stated. The emissions from planes will negatively impact both the health and wellbeing of residents. Our blossoming tourist industry will suffer.
The proposal that the current owners, Stone Hill Park, offer is much better for people and the environment.
The continued uncertainty has a depressing impact across our communities.
Cllr Karen Constantine.
The closing date for the RSP Manston consultation is Sunday 23rd July 2017.