I'm writing with regard to my grave concerns about the consultation process being conducted by River Oak Strategic Partners, or RSP as part of their plans to develop the former Manston airport.
I am a local Ramsgate resident and live directly under what is most likely to be the flightpath. I am absolutely opposed to RSPs plans to re-open Manston airport as a cargo hub, which they have said themselves in their proposal documents may involve night flights - up to eight every night. The noise from these flights would radically disrupt the peace and quiet, and more importantly the sleep of our entire town.
Like most of our 40,000 residents I was not directly consulted about this plan. I received no letter, or indeed any information by post, not even a leaflet containing the most basic information. The first I heard about it was around a week ago when I came across a flyer in a local restaurant by a group opposed to the plans.
By the time I looked into the issue I realised it was too late to attend any of the Ramsgate consultations. I am extremely disappointed at not being given any decent warning about this issue.
Extra meeting dates at other locations were added to the calendar, but when RSP were asked to host another one for Ramsgate they refused.
Residents in Birchington - not directly under the flight path - got personal letters, but Ramsgate resident received nothing. This seems blatantly unfair, and tactical on RSP's part. Clearly Ramsgate residents are being deliberately ignored.
I am a relatively young resident, mobile and connected in terms of media and the web so I hate to think of how in the dark more hard to reach residents - especially older folks, or those with mobility issues - are. I imagine thousands of Ramsgate residents will be poorly informed about RSPs plans and unable to engage with the consultation process. This is totally unacceptable.
I hope this matter will be looked into more. RSP clearly have a very blunt corporate agenda and is deliberately not involving the entire town of Ramsgate in this process because they know that Ramsgate is the largest town within close range of the operations and pose a threat to their plans.
This consultation process should be transparent, open to all and conducted over a reasonable period of time,. So far it has been none of these things. Our town is being ignored in a rush to get the consultation process over and done with, with as little resistance as possible.
If/ when an application is submitted, the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, has a statutory duty to invite comments from all relevant local authorities (see s43 of the Planning Act 2008) about whether an Applicant has complied with its statutory Pre-application consultation duties (see s42, s47 and s48 of the Planning Act 2008). Responses received are ‘Adequacy of Consultation Representations’.
All applications for development consent must be accompanied by a ‘Consultation Report’. The Consultation Report is prepared under section 37 of the Planning Act 2008 and must give details of:
a) what has been done in compliance with sections 42, 47 and 48 of the Planning Act 2008 in relation to a proposed application that has become the application;
b) any relevant responses; and
c) the account taken of any relevant responses.
In the Acceptance period (ie the 28 days following the formal submission of an application) the Planning Inspectorate will scrutinise all of the application documents, including the evidence provided in the Consultation Report, applying the statutory tests set out in s55 of the Planning Act 2008. By the end of the Acceptance period the Planning Inspectorate (on behalf of the Secretary of State) must decide, in accordance with the tests in s55 of the Planning Act 2008, whether or not to accept an application for examination. In reaching this decision, s55(4) makes explicit that the Planning Inspectorate must have regard to the Consultation Report and any Adequacy of Consultation Representations made by local authority consultees.
On the basis of the above, I would advise for you to provide your comments to your local authority, copying-in the Applicant. This will enable your local authority to consider your comments in the preparation of its Adequacy of Consultation Representation; if/ when an application for development consent is submitted.
In respect of the duration of the consultation period, section 45 of the Planning Act 2008 prescribes that an Applicant’s statutory Pre-application consultation must run for a minimum of 28 days. RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd opened its statutory consultation period on 12 June 2017. The consultation period will close on 23 July 2017, having run for 42 days.