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I applied online to join the Why Not Manston? campaign. Their refusal is disappointing, but instructive:

Dear Mr Rose,

Last week we provisionally accepted you as a Supporter of our campaign. However, in your covering note, you stated your complete opposition to any Night Flights at the airport. After discussion in our Committee, we have come to the conclusion that your firm opposition to night flights and, indeed, your leadership of the No Night Flights campaign, in practice puts you at odds with our aims.

In effect, your campaign is trying to rewrite the rules under which a prospective airline at the airport would have to operate. An airline supervisory body might have the powers to do this, and so might a democratically elected local council. But a private individual with no stake in the business, or any similar pressure group, cannot be allowed to dictate the terms under which an airline could operate from Manston.

So I am afraid that we now have to withdraw your name as a Supporter. I am sure you will understand.

Yours sincerely

Nicholas Reed, Chairman, Why Not Manston?

I think it may be worth clarifying something - I'm not against Manston. I'm not against people who are "pro-Manston". I am, however, against "Manston at any cost". I would love to see a thriving economy in east Kent based on high quality, sustainable jobs (as I stated in my application to WNM?), and will support any venture that delivers those jobs.

I'm not yet convinced that Manston can deliver - the average salary at Manston is less than the average salary across Thanet, and aviation is a small margin business, prone to dramatic fluctuations as a result of factors beyond its control, e.g oil prices. I'm also wary of over-reliance on a single employer or even a single industry - a more broadly based economy is inevitably more resilient.

While I remain agnostic about Manston's ability to make a significant positive contribution to the local economy, I am absolutely clear that night flights would be damaging. Both the independent consultancy firms hired by TDC came to the same conclusion. Night flights are a cost that is not worth paying. I am against night flights, not against Manston.

That said, let's have a look at Mr Reed's comments.

I am not trying to rewrite the rules. I am trying to prevent the airport operators from rewriting the rules.

The "democratically elected local council" is not trying to rewrite the rules. It was instrumental in writing those rules in the first place, and in all fairness, it's been pretty useless at holding the airport operators to their side of the deal.

Even in my more grandiose moments, I don't suffer from the delusion that I can dictate much more than a shopping list. I'm certainly not in a position to dictate anything to an airline or foreign-owned airport operator, and it wouldn't even matter if I owned shares in them.

As an individual, and as a member of a "pressure group", I seek to influence through explanation and representation, not dictation.

However, Why Not Manston? - which I am pretty sure qualifies as a pressure group, albeit a small one - is seeking to rewrite the rules under which a prospective airline could operate, by their explicit support for night flights.

Reader Comments (2)

Are you really surprised ? The mindset of these people doesn't allow for flexibility, they are exactly the types who consider the EU a huge success because we've had no wars lately and completely ignore the massive downside to a corrupt sprawling bureaucracy.

Manston could become a reasonable regional airport and might even get to be successful enough to provide fifty local jobs but anything more than that is warped optimism. To be what most people want it to be we need to move it closer to London and rename it. Gatwick or Heathrow sound like two good names...
Thu, November 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Cannon
It's painfully obvious - Manston could just about work if night-flights were are permitted reality. But even for tax paying haulage companies it will be hard to make a profit bussing out of season vegetables etc to London etc. Some people should really look at some business plans and economic modelling!

As planes are not allowed to land during night time anywhere else then there could be an attraction to use Manston if it was allowed. But why the airport neighbors should want something that nobody else wants in the UK (or Europe even) is beyond most of us who bother to look at the details!

Infratil have had a lovely time whipping up the local press and dividing the community with one side for common sense (against night flights) and one side who's schadenfreude they capitalize on and further polarize opinion beyond logic.

As ever NNF is not against the airport as such, as many welcome daytime business (some even actually use the passenger flights), and 'Why not manston' et al enjoy forgetting this detail so they can continue to spout this pro business non-logic to the press and their equally unintelligent Councillor friends.

Many of us know how hard it is these days to keep business going these days but the possible reality of nighttime (low flying noisy freight planes) is unacceptable for obvious reasons. For the sake of a very few jobs at the expense of a growing / regenerating town its a 'no brainer' for me. We must shatter this myth of a golden employer and jobs for all! I believe there are currently more jobs created by small businesses in Ramsgate that the airport could ever offer Thanet, and I fear those small businesses would suffer at the expense of a laissez faire aiport multinational business which frankly does not give a shit about the local community other than the people it employs.
Wed, November 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

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