On 19th April the sponsor posted this on their website see this link attachment 1 The release was not widely publicised. In this release they claim that they will review further their night flight requirements and quota counts and also suggest that planes will not fly over densely populated areas. Again I think this highlights the inadequacy of the consultation and the way in which it has been undertaken in a very piecemeal manner with little regard to the local community who will be massively affected by the plans particularly those in Ramsgate and Herne Bay. As I said in previous communications there has been no detail of flight paths produced and yet in their latest brief above they say planes will not fly over densely populated areas which seems to indicate that flight paths have been planned but not disclosed during the consultation. How we are to assess the project without knowing the flight paths is difficult to understand especially without an environmental impact assessment or health impact assessment. It may be that some residents didn't bother going to the consultations having assumed that planes will not fly over their houses which may not be the case.
I also note new proposals have been recommended nationally for how noise is assessed, see this link below of a summary by Hacan attachment 2. I assume the sponsors plans will need to be revisited to assure they comply with these new arrangements.
Lastly the sponsors posted the following on their website in an attempt to suggest they consulted widely enough having realised at the last minute that Canterbury County Council had not responded to the consultation because they hadn't received the necessary documentation. Here is a link to their post attachment 3. You will no doubt have heard from many Herne Bay as well as Ramsgate residents who were not aware of the consultations taking place. The use of a website, Facebook and twitter reaches very limited people in Thanet and should be discouraged as a medium for planning consultations in these cases. The sponsor could quite easily have mailed a detailed summary of their plans to each and every household in Thanet, this is what is done by other sponsors as a matter of course in order to ensure that all residents are aware of the scope and depth of the proposed plans. A summary could quite easily have been prepared detailing the type of airport being planned, the number of planes proposed each day, the number of planes proposed each night, how many days per week operations would function and detailed flight paths as a minimum so residents could see exactly how they were likely to be affected and could then decide if they needed to go and get further information at a consultation briefing. The consultations should have been briefings with a formal presentation with questions and answers rather than people just milling around looking at pictures and queuing up to ask questions.
Lastly as a general point regarding the planning legislation enacting the Development Consent Order process I find it hard to believe that it was meant for company's such as RSP, who have little or no substance or experience and with investors in Belize, to utilise. Other projects on your website are sponsored by entities such as The Highways Agency, power generation companies and other quasi government institutions providing national services. Perhaps the legislation needs to be revisited to ensure it is not used inappropriately by companies and in particular by those who have already failed to meet the criteria to qualify as an indemnity party within the local authority CPO regime.
The Acceptance stage
The application was submitted on 10 April 2018. Beginning on the day after it was submitted the Planning Inspectorate (on behalf of the Secretary of State) has 28 calendar days to decide whether the application can be accepted for examination.
The Acceptance decision must therefore be taken on or before 8 May 2018. The decision will be published on the project webpage, here: attachment 4
If the application is accepted, the following documents will also be published on the project webpage:
• The application documents submitted by RSP.
• Any Adequacy of Consultation Representations submitted by relevant local authorities.
• The Planning Inspectorate’s Acceptance Checklist.
The Acceptance tests
Section 55 of the Planning Act 2008 states what the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, must have regard to when taking its decision about whether to accept an application:
a) The Consultation Report received with the application.
b) Any Adequacy of Consultation Representations received by the Planning Inspectorate from a local authority consultee.
c) The extent to which the Applicant has had regard to government guidance.
The Planning Act 2008 is available in full via our website, here: attachment 5
If you have sent comments about RSP’s Pre-application consultation, these can be considered in addition to the statutorily required Acceptance tests when making the decision about whether or not to accept the application. It will be for the decision maker (the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State) to decide the weight to give to the views expressed based on the individual facts of the case.
If you have sent comments about the merits of the Proposed Development (eg setting out support for or objection to the principle of the Proposed Development) these cannot be considered at the Acceptance stage. If the application is accepted for examination, in order to make comments about the merits of the Proposed Development to an appointed Examining Authority, you will need to register as an Interested Party by making a Relevant Representation at the appropriate time. For more information about how and when you can have your say, please see our Advice Note 8.2: How to register to participate in an Examination: attachment 6