Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Thanet District Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee - 30/08/2011

By Cllr David Green - Labour Vice Chair.
On Tuesday I proposed, and Peter Campbell seconded, that a report, from the Council’s Airport Working Party, on the monitoring of activities at Manston Airport including Night Flights policy be adopted by the Thanet District Council (TDC) Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and forwarded to Cabinet. The committee voted 8 to 7 with all Labour Councillors and Cllr King in favour.
“1 (a) The Council adopts a policy of not allowing scheduled, pre-planned or otherwise timetabled flights between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00
(b)  That a period of 1 hour at either end of the flying day be allowed for late/early arriving flights only.
(c)  That a penalty be applied to any flights arriving during the 1 hour periods
(d)  No take-offs will be allowed between 23:00 and 07:00 hours
(e)  A schedule of exceptions to the above will be prepared to include ‘mercy flights’, and flights, medical emergencies, coastguard movements etc.
2.    In respect of aspirations to be carried into a successor to the current Section.106 agreement;
(a)   Consideration be given to requesting the Airport owners whoever they may be at any given time to contribute to the cost of a TDC Airport Officer and that requirement is included in a new section 106 Agreement;
(b)   A new Section 106 Agreement is negotiated within 12 months.
3.    A further Term of Reference be added to the Airport Working Party; purpose that investigation is undertaken to the relationship between a possible Parkway Station and the Airport and the current need for it.
4.    Quarterly or half yearly reports are received by Thanet District Council on the performance of the Manston International Airport as measured against the section 106 Agreement.
5.    Thanet District Council be recommended to ask the Manston International Airport operator to review the Kent International Airport Consultative Committee (KIACC).”
The local Labour Party has been pressing for the issue to be addressed, as it should be, through the Planning system for years now. We argued through the Council’s airport working party and Scrutiny system that clarity over the current policy of no night flights was essential.
Thanet District Council, as the local Planning Authority has a clear duty to produce a Local Development Framework, against which local businesses, developers and residents can plan their future in terms of land use and environmental impact.
It is clear, that the Council has failed in this duty with regard to the future development of Kent International Airport. The environmental agreement that controls the conditions of use of the airport (section 106) was devised in 2000 and was anticipated as being updated every 3 years. In the intervening years it has served the community well, allowing development of the airport, but protecting residents from the worst environmental impacts. However, the aircraft industry and environmental standards have moved on. A new agreement is required, and the airport owners need a clear guide to what is acceptable.
The airport owners have produced a master plan of how they would like the airport to develop. It is aspirational as one would expect, and optimistic with regard to predicted traffic and jobs created. In the absence of planning guidance from the Council, the danger is that the master plan will become mistaken for Council policy.
Through inaction, the Council has allowed a myth to develop that all that is required is some minor adjustment to the conditions of the old s106 agreement that will allow the relaxations of environmental control that the master plan requires. As far as night time flying is concerned it is clear from reports commissioned by the airport and separately by the Council, that the environmental impact would be severe. This reinforces the legal opinion obtained on at least two occasions that night time flying represents sufficient intensification of use as to require fresh planning approval.
We believe a clear, balanced policy that protects the vulnerable public is required, but will allow future development of the airport allowing competition with other similar airports.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Response to Manston Airport press release of 16th August 2011

The statement that the Labour Group at Thanet District Council is suggesting 'more onerous restrictions' at Manston Airport is absolutely and totally wrong!
Thanet Council Labour Group Leader Councillor Clive Hart said "The Labour Group simply stands by the current 106 agreement that has served Thanet well for the past decade. The 106 agreement also forms the basis of recommendations from a recent cross-party TDC Airport Working Party. We are certainly not calling for any 'more onerous restrictions' than already exist".
The Labour Group wish to make it absolutely clear that we are restating the current position of the council and in no way predetermining any decisions that may or may not have to be made in the future.