Manston DCO issues: Noise and night flights

Noise and night flights

A revised noise mitigation plan has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) for the latest deadline in the Development Consent Order examination for the Manston airport site.

The firm is applying for the DCO in order to purchase the land and create an air freight cargo hub and associated businesses.

However, the land is owned by Stone Hill Park which has submitted a planning application to create up to 3,700 homes, business and leisure and associated infrastructure.

The Planning Inspectorate hearings opened in January and are due to conclude in July.

Major issues to be examined include noise and night flights.

RSP noise mitigation

In the revised mitigation plan RSP say the airport will be subject to a total annual air transport movement limit of 26,468 with a General Aviation movement limit of 38,000. The proposal is for an annual quota during the Night Time Period (11pm-7am) of 3028 movements.

The site would have an overall operating capability of 83,220 movements per annum.

RSP data predicts 33 Air Transport Movements (ATMs) and approximately 16 non ATMs on a typical busy day in all years. In Year 20 there is predicted to be 72 ATMs during a typical busy day and 7 ATMs on a typical busy night.

Measurements in the RSP report say a significant adverse noise level is measured at 63db (decibels) during the day flying period, 55db at night or 80db for more than 18 nightly events.

Anything 69db and over is labelled as an unacceptable level. Aircraft noise is measured by a quota count of Effective perceived noise in decibels (EPNdB).

Lowest is 84 – 86.9 EPNdB with a 0.25 quota count whilst the top end is 96 – 98.9 EPNdB with a quota count of 4;  99 – 101.9 EPNdB quota 8 and anything greater than 101.9 EPNdB equalling a count of 16.

RSP says it will limit noise impacts by introducing the cap on annual air transport movements at the airport  and with the use of a night-time ‘noise quota’, common at other UK airports, where aircraft are given an independently assessed score known as a quota count according to how noisy they are. An annual quota is imposed on aircraft movements. This provides control over the total amount of noise from aircraft.

Other measures will be:

  • A scheduled night flight ban between the hours of 2300 and 0600
  • A ban on the noisiest aircraft (with quota count 8 or 16) at night
  • A noise insulation scheme for residential properties
  • A noise insulation scheme for sensitive non-residential buildings
  • A commitment to regular and ongoing consultation with schools
  • A purchase and relocation assistance scheme for residential properties
  • A clear and transparent process for identifying eligibility for noise insulation, purchase or relocation
  • Annual reporting on matters relating to noise
  • The establishment of a Community Consultative Committee and a Community Trust Fund (which will receive funding from the airport operator under the plan;
  • A ban on routine training flights other than for General Aviation
  • A ban on open field testing of jet engines at night
  • Reverse thrust limitation procedures
  • Low power / Low drag approach procedures
  • Monitoring of noise levels from aircraft and fines for noisy aircraft
  • Fines for aircraft that stray from approved flightpaths without good reason

Emergency flights and flights operated by relief organisations for humanitarian reasons will not count towards the quota.

The report says the airport operator will seek to operate take-offs from Runway 28 and landings on Runway 10 as a method of reducing noise over built up areas.


The document lays out plans for payments due to noise mitigation estimated at insulation policy and Part I claims: £4m for up to 1000 properties at £4000 each and relocation costs of £1.6m for up to eight properties.

Measures will include secondary glazing, high performance double glazing, roof insulation, sound insulated doors; and mechanical ventilation.

The document says the airport operator will provide reasonable levels of noise insulation and ventilation for schools and community buildings within the 60 dB LAeq (16 hour) day time contour.

A purchase and relocation assistance scheme will mean the airport operator buying the property for its market value and  giving relocation assistance payments of £5,000; and 2.5% of the purchase price for the property up to a maximum of £15,000.


In its document RSP says: “RiverOak Strategic Partners Limited (‘RiverOak’) has always been aware that the issue of noise created by the operation of a redeveloped Manston Airport would be one of the issues of principal concern for
the residents of the districts of Thanet and Canterbury.

“RiverOak understands those concerns and wishes to offer a range of commitments on future noise related activities at the airport in the form of a Noise Mitigation Plan. The commitments are designed to provide clarity to residents and reduce their concerns to the extent possible.”

No Night Flights: ‘Sound levels’

Campaign group No Night Flights says noise from night time crafts could reach more than 85db, saying: “RSP are proposing allowing 747-400 aircraft to operate at night and we know from authenticated historical data that these will produce a noise footprint of over 85 dB (max) affecting most Ramsgate residents, plus many living in the St Nicholas conservation area and in the Reculver/Beltinge areas.

“The evidence shows that the applicant will be subjecting over 30,000 people to sound levels much greater than the threshold for “onset of potential sleep disturbance”. Yet the applicant appears to want permission not to count the first 17 times he does this each night. Nor has he provided the contours which the professional bodies say would be most revealing of the extent of the disturbance at night caused by his proposed development.”

The No Night Flight  submission adds: “According to RSP’s business plan, and the metrics they have chosen, nobody will be woken by aircraft noise in the first 20 years of Manston operating as a 24/7 freight hub. Of course, reality is different, as the complaints made to KIACC (Kent International Airport Consultative Committee) when the airport was open attest. Just one 747-400 night flight in a night caused awakenings and resulted in complaints.”

No Night Flights say historically airport operators have sought permission for scheduled night flights despite there being available day time capacity, saying that they could not attract cargo business without them.

The group say they fear quota count 4 aircraft will be used at night and any air movement caps could be overturned. They also say most cargo flights are not scheduled, meaning a ban on scheduled night would be ineffective.

They add: “The absence of an explicit ban on planned night flights in the application and the proposal for a negotiable quota tend to suggest the applicant’s intention to prop up an airport operation at Manston by capturing the bottom end of the freight market – noisy QC4 night flights banned at the majority of other UK airports.”


Noise will be the subject of an issue specific hearing for the DCO to be held on March 22 at Laurence Suite, Building 500, Discovery Park. Doors open at 9.30am, hearing starts at 10am.