Residents groups and locally concerned individuals came together at the Royal Yacht Club in Ramsgate on Thursday (July 20) to discuss the proposed reopening of Manston airport, which has been closed since 2014.
Representatives from resident associations in the East Cliff and West Cliff areas of the town, along with members of various local community groups and residents of the villages, were present.
The main concern for those present was the 24/7 flight schedule of the proposed new cargo airport. Local business people, especially those involved in the hospitality trade, were concerned that permanent night flights would spell the end to tourism in the town with a serious loss of jobs, far in excess of anything proposed by the new cargo airport developers.
Other concerns raised included damage to children’s sleep patterns if such flights were to go ahead. A teacher from one of the local schools informed the meeting of his experiences with low flying aircraft noise while trying to teach.
Several speakers said they were gravely concerned by a lack of consultation by developers RSP, pointing out the fact that the area directly under the flight path, central Ramsgate had not been leafleted by RSP, while areas like Birchington and Chislet which are not under the flight path apparently were. This lack of awareness by local residents of the town greatly alarmed several speakers. Many spoke of encounters with neighbours who were totally unaware of any proposal to re-open the airport.
There was opposition expressed to the plan to build 2,500 houses on the site but given the choice the general consensus of the meeting was that housing would be preferable to a 24/7 cargo airport. Concerns were raised regarding the large scale shipments of highly flammable aviation fuel by road, estimated at least 30 to 40 tanker loads per day, the airport not being connected to the underground fuel network that supplies all major airports.
The effect of a 24/7 cargo airport on property prices was also mentioned along with the damage to the general environment from low flying aircraft, emitting pollutants from aviation fuel and anti-freeze. It was noted that the Council for the Protection of Rural England recently expressed grave concern regarding the re-opening of the airport.
The meeting ended with a resolve to hold elected representatives to account. There was a feeling that neither the local members of parliament nor the district council had the welfare of Ramsgate at heart. A general agreement that all legal channels should be investigated including seeking a judicial review into the legality of opening a 24/7 cargo airport in close proximity to such a large urban population.
Report No To Night Flights