Thursday, 12 February 2009

MANSTON AIRPORT EXPANSION GOES AHEAD

Here are my live notes of the meeting that decided to go ahead with expansion of the airport.

Councillors were presented with a 7 page new Section 106 Obligation (Amendment) KIA agreement between Infratil and Thanet Council (TDC). A 5 minute adjournment was agreed to consider it.

Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel proposed the item because of its importance. He proposed the report saying very little.

He then asked Brian White the leading officer to introduce the report. The Company was formed by Infratil on 29th January and they then contacted the Council.

Infratil wanted improved infrastructure and greater "shoulder period" flying hours. He noted how short the time period was since the application.

2 key issues - short timescale available because of the current economic circumstances. He noted £10m of investment by Infratil.

He noted noise issues and referred to the draft masterplan.Mr. White went on to take members through the report

The variation was the key issue with early morning and late night shoulder periods.

Apply to aircraft QC4 and less.

Runways between 2300 and 0700 to be away from Ramsgate wherever possible.

Monthly detailed reports and quarterly reviews.

The draft 106 agreement had been received today and was recommended by Mr. White and the Head of Legal Services.

4 Amendments were then submitted by Dave Green.

Chris Wells asked for greater explanation of shoulder periods.Brian White said this was an aviation industry term meaning the edge of nighttime.

Peter Campbell asked what night time meant. Answer 2300-0700. Peter said this was not then late evening. Applause from public gallery.

Amendment 1 Trial period for 9 months only. Dave Green proposed this. He wanted changes to go ahead tonight to create jobs. He wanted this as a check and a balance allowing for 3 monthly reviews unless both sides agreed a new agreement.

Mike Harrison opposed the amendment saying it did not give a long enough period to establish the new airline.

Chris Wells opposed as he said the new agreement tonight gave an 18 month period which he felt was correct.

Richard Nicholson opposed the agreement on the basis that 18 months was a more appropriate period.

Liz Green seconded the motion complaining about the timing of the meeting, the short notice and the lack of public consultation.

Sandy Ezekiel, Roger Latchford and Shirley Tomlinson objected to my taking notes on my blackberry. The Chair ruled they were wrong.

Sandy Ezekiel and Roger Latchford opposed the amendment.

Peter Campbell, myself, Liz Green and Dave Green supported the amendment. All others opposed it. Amendment lost.

2nd amendment to not leave the agreement open ended to allow other aircraft to come in.

Cllr. Jarvis asked whether the agreement was for 3 years or for a different period. Has the extension been agreed verbally or in writng?

In 2000 Mr. White said a voluntary agreement was reached so it was not formally a planning agreement. He noted there was no formal 106 agreement, rather an informal one that continued to run.

Mike Harrison said it was wrong to impose only one company to a planning cause as it may be illegal.

Simon Day said it should not be a monopoly agreement.

Chris Wells opposed the amendment.

Richard Nicholson said there should be restrictions around capacity. Only so many planes could take off from runway 10 and runway 28. He wanted less quiet and dirty planes to not be allowed and to stop 100s of flights.

Sandy Ezekiel opposed a monopoly. Martin Wise wanted to give as many operators as wanted to come in. He wanted to have a regional airport backed by SEEDA and KCC. He said this should like other regional airports.

Peter Campbell noted Mr. Wise was drifting from the subject and he stopped speaking.

Liz Green seconded the amendment saying it should be a trial period and wanted to avoid the thin end of the wedge to night time flights flooding in.

Sandy Ezekiel said about 6 planes an hour could be flying in. Mike Harrison asked for legal advice. The advice was the amendment would be retrictive.

P Campbell asked why deal was tied to only 1 operator? Mr. White said because only 1 applicant/operator so far.

Roger Latchford said an operator had approached. He was legally concerned. Concerned Manston could be at a disadvantage.

Amendment lost only Dave Green, Liz Green and Peter Campbell supporting.

Amendment 3 welcomed flying away from Ramsgate and QC4 or less flights.He wanted tighter monitoring of flights coming in over Ramsgate. Peter Campbell seconded to keep traffic away from Ramsgate. Mike Harrison opposed but had concerns about current monitoring.

Richard Nicholson as a KIACC member was aware of concerns and felt reporting was sufficient currently.

Simon Moores said with west winds meaning landing on runway 28 when there were strong wind speeds. This meant flights coming over Ramsgate. Liz Green noted many times planes came in on quiet balmy days.

Sandy Ezekiel said when there were light winds at the ground at 500 feet it was often very windy indeed.

Lost only myself, Liz and Dave Green and Peter Campbell supporting.

Dave Green supported doubling of penalties in amendment 4 where there were night time breaches. Liz Green seconded.

Mike Harrison said this would drive business away. Thanet's fines were already the highest in the UK. Each time there was a breach the sum doubled. KIACC has distributed money to many good causes. He wanted meaningful but not punitive fines.

Simon Moores said this could put pressure on crews to fly to avoid fines. This could mean rushing and affect flight safety.

Richard Nicholson said there was a strict regime already. This was sufficient.

Bob Bayford and Harry Scobie left the meeting.

Sandy Ezekiel wanted fines referred to the Working Party.

Liz Green supported amendment speaking of a plane going over Ramsgate at 5.30 in Ramsgate this morning.

Peter Campbell said Simon Moores comments were ill informed.

Lost only Dave and Liz Green supporting.

At 1835 R Nicholson started debate by accepting proposals subject to an agreed night time flying policy in the next 18 months. He had received several emails and letters. Overwhelmingly his constituents supported this proposal. He wanted clear legal limits.

Martin Wise said 28 years ago when he arrived in Thanet he knew there was an airport. He had always supported it. He was delighted at the rumoured calibre of the company coming and was desperste for Infratil to succeed wishing them every good luck.

Bill Hayton said he had lived in Ramsgate under the flight path. He had counted the noise of the time it takes a plane to fly over it is 9 seconds near the airport, but 45 seconds on the Eastcliff. Sometimes noise was necessary to gain employment.

Mike Harrison declared an interest in that he was looking for a job. However he said at 64 he may not have enough time to be trained. He described many jobs that could come. Local jobs for local people. He asked that recruitment should be through local job centres and recruitment agencies.

He understood it to be 4 flights between 6 and 7 in the morning, the rest in normal daytime hours. He wanted better monitoring. He hoped for other carriers too.

Peter Campbell said we were being bounced because we did not have a current policy. He was concerned that people would still suffer noise problems. He said monitoring was lamentable.

John Watkins said as a Margate councillor he noted the deprivation and unemployment in his ward. He said we had to secure current jobs as well as gaining more. He wanted environmental impacts to be thoroughly undertaken. He noted Infratil needed to share information via the internet on alive basis to prevent rumour mongering.

Jill Kirby said he her ward was nearest and most people had supported airport expansion. She said the 50 people at a meeting last week were insufficient to change her and Brenda Rogers' minds. She had conducted a consultation of over 300 residents and 80% were in favour of the proposal.

Zita Wiltshire wanted Thanet's Airport asset to work for Thanet. She noted the local brain drain.
Liz Green opposed the motion as she felt bounced into a decision and this would affect tourism and weekenders. She was concerned at quality of life and had no faith in the monitoring. Applause from the gallery.

Dave Green opposed and concerned that Roger Latchford had not arranged a night time flight policy. He felt rushed and was concerned at the current situation where the current Cabinet had not addressed their responsibilities.

Clive Hart said there were few views of residents. There had been little consideration of their views.

I spoke to say although I had concerns most of my constituents backed the proposal. We were all representatives and we should reflect the views of those who voted for us. I was therefore supporting the substantive proposal.

Jo Gideon had been consulting her residents. She said that health threats were greater from unemployment than plane noise.

Ken Gregory said a speedy response was essential to gain investment.

Tom King said as a born cynic he was sceptical of promises from TDC. He wanted the jobs for Thanet people because of high local unemployment.

Mr. Bunnett (Acting Chief Executive) said jobs could not be guaranteed locally.

Mike Taylor lived under the flight path and his straw poll was in favour.

John Kirby spoke personally of his experience paying benefits to unemployed people. He was sceptical of lower house prices. He supported the proposal.

Liz Green said about health there were problems and she opposed night flights and the effects of night flights. Concerned at affect on schools where lessons stopped when planes went overhead.

Kay Dark opposed early morning and late nights flights.

Roger Latchford wanted economic regeneration.

Sandy Ezekiel said the majority of members and the public were supportive. He wanted Thanet to be open for business.

The motion was voted in favour with only 4 against Liz Green, Tom King, Dave Green and Kay Dark.

UPDATE

This was done as an almost "live" blog. Sadly the Council Leader Sandy Ezekiel, his Deputy and Shirley Tomlinson objected. Thanks to the outgoing Chair John Kirby for letting me continue to take notes to relay after the end of the meeting. If I had been writing notes on paper there would have been no problem. As I said at the meeting the Council's leadership needs to get into the 21st Century and remove the ban on live reporting of Council meetings unless confidential matters are being discussed.

I will be happy to amend any entry for any person if I have not quite captured the essence of what they were trying to say.

Thanks to all those who voted in the poll, final result For 57 Against 44.

21 comments:

  1. A vote for common sense - well done TDC !!

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  2. Thank you for this detailed report. A step in the right direction for Margate.

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  3. at long last an excellent report well done manston ,for being so patient

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  4. I think you round it off perfectly. The council need to get in the 21st Century. Leader Sandy saying "bring on crawley house prices, bring on near heathrow villages house prices (the ones being bulldozed?)", followed by Chairman Kirby saying his house near Heathrow cost £3,250 in 1963, look at the price now.

    Thye are a joke, tired old men. Distance yourself if you value your council seat. Revolution is coming.....

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  5. You complete and utter idiots. Welcome to the back end of nowhere.

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  6. S.M.E.G., there's some lovely properties in the Margate / Westgate area. As you obviously love & care for Thanet but are one of the minorities who dislike the noise of planes then why don't you check out the houses here?

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  7. Peter, the thought of living in the same county as you is creepy enough

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  8. What a shambles. This won't bring one single job for Thanet unemployed but may go some way to lining the pockets of the corrupt, incompetent leaders of TDC.

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  9. Smeg, I was waiting for the personal attacks to start. They usually do when you're losing a rational debate.

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  10. How many of our Councillors managed to attend, Mark, out of the 56? What was the final vote count (for and against) to approve this hastily, rushed and possibly illegal decision. The S.106 in its previous form had effectively expired, so where was the 6 month's consultation period? There is ineffective monitoring already of sound and hydrocarbon pollution over Ramsgate, is there not? As part of this rushed and hastily convened travesty of the democratic process, what monitoring proviso's were voted on? Who is to monitor and how and who will pay for it? When contraventions occur who will enforce any fines? TDC has shown pathetic care of its populace and electorate on this issue and has effectively given Infratil and operating airlines 'carte-blanche' in their mis-use of airspace over Ramsgate. The whole process tonight was a farce of environmental monitoring of our local airport and TDC has shown itself, yet again, to put the chimera of 'jobs' before the well being of its populace.

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  11. Well done for posting this Mark.

    But why were KIACC ignored? Their recommendation made good sense. What reason did you have for ignoring it?

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  12. Anon 23.22 about 45 cllrs attended, sorry I didn't catch total who voted for, but there were no abstentions that I saw, you'll have to await council's formal records to be posted on the TDC website to know exact results.

    Several Labour cllrs said monitoring was poor and I agree with that. Yes process was rushed, on monitoring the Airport working party will work up the policy, but the cabinet and ultimately Roger Latchford I think retains lead resposnibility on this.
    Dave Green highlighted Roger's failure to have addressed this matter beforehand and my sense was the meeting shared this view. I think Roger should explain this failure to have an active enforced policy.

    Jean sorry I do not know why KIACC were ignored, and not allowed to speak must have been taking a note.

    I did not ignore the KIACC recommendation, and I voted for 2 more restrictive amendments to the motion which were lost.

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  13. Thanks Mark,

    The thrust of the KIACC's recommendation was to delay in order to allow consultation. A one week timescale is ludicrous and Infratil and BAWC know this already, as does anyone in commerce.

    Surely you must see how this looks?

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  14. what a lot of old rubbish your followers come up with the labour party did nothing in the years in power and are doing nothing now ,no chance of ever getting back in con trol with the group they have now

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  15. Mark,

    Thank you for at least treating this seriously.

    No consultation with 26,000 Ramsgate residents. How to wreck a town? Ask the Margate-centred TDC 'leadership'.

    200 jobs? Don't believe a word of it - even if the Jobs Fairy could magic them up and put them under Mr Ezekiel's pillow for him to distribute, he wouldn't be able to guarantee Thanet Jobs for Thanet People as it would be, I believe the phrase is...er, illegal. This is just cynical dog-whistle politics.

    Gordon Brown tried the same line and it came back to bite him.

    The quality of life of 26,000 residents is being sacrificed for the vanity of a visionless coterie of past their sell-by date local politicians.

    Oh, and before the usual suspects respond to this post, let me just say this - don't bother. Unless you live under the flight-path, your views are irrelevent to us, the wealth generators of Ramsgate.

    Paul Twyman, in his letter to councillors stated clearly that the decision will be subject to legal challenges on a number of fronts. I understand that this is now to be the case

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  16. Anon 12.47 followers? you delude yourself, why do you remain anonymous when cheerleading for the local Tories? Because there is a lot to be anonymous about.

    Jean/Westcliff GB If I was challenging the Council decsion one aspect is the way the application was handled initially.

    1. Legally all councillors are jointly and equally liable. 2. Planning is specifically barred from having party political whips it would be pre-determination.

    With best practice and in view of the proposed timescale such an important application should have been divulged to all councillors (and by default the public) on the Monday after receipt. Somebody, I assume Sandy Ezekiel or Roger Latchford instructed that this did not take place.

    It is not a question Jean of it looking bad. It was deliberately done badly. A decision was taken to withhold information.

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  17. Mark, Thanks for the above post. All we ask is that decisions are made openly and legally. Even if the vote had gone the other way, I would still be vociferous in arguing against the way TDC went about their business. Thanks for doing your bit over the past few days to give the electorate the information that TDC felt it 'best' not to.

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  18. I'll support west cliff GB's comments - thanks Mark, this post will go down as 'post of the year' in my book.

    It is my deepest concern that expansion will not be handled well and that Ramsgate will be ruined as a result.

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  19. I am concerned about the world that Councillors live in. Following this vote I went down my road and knocked on all of the doors. I asked my neighbours what they thought. Most were incredulous at what the Council had done and the vast majority are opposed to night-flights, full-stop. This actually matches the findings of the Council's own consultation exercise on this subject which was conducted a few years ago.

    According to the notes of this meeting, Jill Kirby has been doing a straw poll. I cannot find anyone who was questioned in this straw poll. Is there anyone out there who was asked? If my road is remotely comparable to other roads in Ramsgate, people are unequivocally opposed to night-flights.

    At the end of the day it might all be about how you phrase the question. If you ask whether people would like jobs and employment opportunities they say "Yes." If you ask them whether they want to be woken up by noisy planes they say "No." An intelligent debate would not ignore the costs involved in creating jobs. An intelligent debate would weigh the costs against the benefits.

    Sadly, this proposal is geared to allow freighters to use Manston. This will create negligible employment as air-freight is palletised and requires a couple of fork-lift drivers to transfer it from plane to lorry and vice-versa. There is no scope for additional employment in the area (the so-called "knock-on effects") as the lorries will just drive out of the airport and head for London. The airport itself admits that the proposal will create less than 50 jobs and most of those will be people who transfer down from Stansted. I'd be surpirsed if this proposal created more than a dozen jobs that local people could apply for. I'd be willing to wager a large amount of money that Harrison won't get one. What on earth does he think he would do up there?

    I'm afraid that Councillors have been very foolish. They have allowed their hearts to rule their heads and have failed to look at the facts, which were widely available but not (apparently) talked about during the "debate" which took place. They have authorised significant aditional night-flying from Manston without taking any account of the environmental impact. They have done this in accordance with a mantra: "Jobs, jobs, jobs," but this proposal will create virtually no jobs. I remember Bary Coppock using the same "Jobs, jobs, jobs" mantra to justify privatization of the airport over ten years ago. He was wrong then and Councillors (of all political colours) are still making flawed decisions on the back of the same failed mantra today.

    Sadly, once again, Thanet has been let down by the poor quality of its Councillors and their inability to properly discuss issues of great importance. Time for a change? It's been time for a long time. We need Councillors who don't cave in to ridiculous demands from businesses, and are prepared to stand up for the people who elected them. Only when we get this is the area likely to regenerate. As it stands, anyone who wants a good night's sleep and has the money to move, will be heading out of Thanet. I've already spoken to two local businessmen who think this will be bad for their trade. Who represented their views at the council meeting? Who even asked them?

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  20. Many good points anon. I was out knocking on doors at the weekend and there was nobody raising the aiprort. I continue to ask people I meet locally, unscientific I know, but opinion is still pro expansion.

    By commenting anonymously and not giving any hint of where you live it does weaken your argument. Which part of town has a street with the views you state?

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