Friday, 11 May 2012

Consultation response to night flying proposals

From Cllr Clive Hart - Labour Thanet District Council (TDC) Leader.

On Thursday evening (10th May) our TDC Cabinet Committee confirmed its support for Manston Airport but recommended that the council should not support the introduction of scheduled night-time flying proposed by the airport.

The Cabinet's final recommendations were made following an open and transparent public consultation process where absolutely no leading questions were asked, yet 73% of respondents proved to be opposed to night flights.

An independent assessment of the airports proposals was commissioned by my Conservative predecessor and their thorough work also informed our recommendations. 

Subsequently, a draft consultation response document went through the cross-party, Conservative chaired, Airport Working Party where several additions were agreed and through the cross party, Independent chaired, Overview and Scrutiny Panel where no further changes were made. Consequently, on Thursday evening our Cabinet Committee unanimously recommended the report to full council completely unchanged in any way.

As well as underestimating the potential negative impacts, we felt that the proposals overestimated the potential economic benefits, overstated the potential number of jobs and did not consider the detrimental impact of night time flying on Thanet's recovering tourism industry.

Having considered the views of local people, the findings of the independent assessment and the proposals themselves, it was clear what our recommendation to council had to be. We are however, fully supportive of the airport and I have written personally to the airport Chief Executive to clearly reassure him of that.

Encouraging regeneration in Thanet and supporting local business is vital to the success of the area, but this can't come at any cost. TDC will hold an extraordinary meeting of the council on 24th May to approve the final consultation response to Manston Airport's proposed Night Time Flying Policy.