Night flights at Manston have been an extremely contentious issue for many Thanet residents. Some believe that allowing the flights will bring economic prosperity to the area, with much needed local employment opportunities. Others believe that it is unlikely that many jobs will be created. We took the stance some time ago that we did not believe allowing night flights would bring any real economic benefit to the residents of Thanet, and may in fact bring real harm to the area due to the impacts of noise and air pollution.
We are glad to see that we have been justified in this view by a recently published report authored on behalf of Thanet District Council by Parsons Brinkerhoff, a leading transport consultancy.
This report, which is based on an examination of the documents submitted by Infratil, clearly brings into doubt many of their claims. Parsons Brinkerhoff indicates that Infratil’s views of the economic benefits are wildly over-optimistic, while the impacts of noise – the major concern of residents in the area – have been seriously understated. These two points alone vindicate the local opposition groups, whose concerns have been regarded by some as backward-looking and ‘nimby-ism’.
The fact that Flybe are pulling out in March because they cannot fill planes is damning proof of the lack of demand for flights out of Manston. We simply cannot see how allowing night flights will help Manston grow as a passenger airport, and therefore generate both jobs and economic sustainability for the area.
In light of this recent report, CPRE Protect Kent would ask that there be a full and unrestricted public consultation before any night flights are allowed. This should be open and transparent, with all the facts available. This will enable the people of East Kent to weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of night flights and lobby Thanet District Council accordingly. It is only right they be given this opportunity, as it is their communities and environment that will be significantly affected by the implementation of night flights.