Manston Airport

Enquiry received via email

Manston Airport

16 February 2018
Adem Mehmet

Enquiry

I and various members of the community of Thanet have been trying to get assurances and evidence to back up claims made by RiverOak Strategic Partners "RSP", Sir Roger Gale MP, Craig Mackinlay MP, various local Cllrs including Robert Bayford, Sam Bambridge, Stuart Piper and Trevor Shonk that night flights will not be required should Manston airport reopen other than in the case of emergency instances.
Despite asking the question absolutely clearly and directly it has still not been possible to get comfort on this issue as the statements made by the above party's, some did not respond at all, were either unclear or deliberately vague when the correct and required response is either yes or no. In addition RSP in their latest limited consultation are now requesting up to 8 flights each night 7 nights a week and in addition a night time quota count of 4000 for cargo operations and 2000 for passenger operations, a greater count than at London Heathrow where I understand, should further expansion be granted, night flights would not be required. How this correlates to statements that night flights are not required or how the QC count level interfaces with a maximum of 8 I am yet to understand and will be seeking clarity from RSP in due course.
As you will have seen from responses to the first consultation some public respondents were told by RSP representatives that there would not be any night flights, some were told they were not in their "current" plans leaving it open for plans in the future to include them. I was told that night flights would be required if customers requested them. At the more recent consultations which, despite the new inclusion of a very large night time quota count and significant new and incredibly important information regarding impacts on health, were only held in two locations with only a few hundred people attending presumably because most thought not much had changed, again answers on this point have been variously reported as unclear or inconsistent between RSP representatives.
I am sure you can understand the confusion and the unwillingness of those concerned about night flights, who are on both sides of the airport/no airport divide, nobody wants them, to rely on statements made by pro airport supporters and Sir Roger Gale that night flights are not required. Even Sir Roger Gales recent statement, which you will have seen, is ambiguous as it says that RSP "neither needs nor wants scheduled night flights that do not fit in with its business plan" quite cleverly worded to ensure that any night flights that do fit in with its business plan would be required, so again not categoric. Again this is inconsistent with RSP current DCO documentation and their request to the Civil Aviation Authority for night flights without limit.
At consultations RSP have advised that they have included night flights because you "PINS" require then to show the worst possible situation. Others including Sir Roger Gale, Craig Mackinlay, various local Cllrs and airport supporters have also made this assertion. You have I think been asked this question before but your reply was not as categoric as it could have been. My interpretation of your reply was that you had not specified that night flights should be included but merely required the applicant to allow in it's application for the worst case scenario within its own specified airport operation framework, so if it wants night flights it should include them but if it doesn't it can exclude them. What would be helpful to all involved in this process and particularly the large number of people who are concerned about the possibility of night flights, would be if you could confirm the following.
The inclusion of night flights is purely at the discretion of the applicant and it is not a requirement that PINS insists is included in the documentation to support a Development Consent Order "DCO". It is for the applicant alone to decide whether or not it's operation of the airport requires the inclusion of night flights or not. If an applicant included in the documentation supporting a DCO application a categoric statement that "Other than in the case of unplanned emergency situations outside of its control there would be no night flights required at Manston Airport" this would be acceptable within the DCO process, would be acceptable to PINS, would not prejudice the acceptance of the application for examination, would not prevent the project being considered to be one of Nationally Strategic Importance and would not predjudice any decision to be made by the Secretary of State.
I think this statement is clear and categoric and is a reflection of what is required within the legal framework surrounding the DCO process and I hope therefore as a statement of fact you are able to make it as publically as possible.

Advice given

Beyond the acceptance tests applied to a submitted application for airport-related development (as set out in s23 of the Planning Act 2008), the Planning Inspectorate does not dictate the operational characteristics of airport-related applications made to it. It is for an applicant alone to decide whether or not its airport-related development needs to allow for night flights to be operated.
If an airport applicant intends to operate night flights, its Environmental Impact Assessment will need to include an assessment to identify the likely significant effects arising from those night flights, along with a description of the measures envisaged in order to avoid, prevent, reduce or offset them. If an airport applicant does not intend to operate night flights, or have the option to operate night flights, there will be no need to assess the impact of night flights as part of its Environmental Impact Assessment.
An applicant must submit a draft Development Consent Order (DCO) with its application and the draft DCO must set out the authorised development that the Applicant is seeking consent for. If an applicant chose to do so it could include within a draft DCO for airport-related development provisions which set out, for example, the parameters associated with any night flights that an applicant wishes to operate (eg their frequency, the circumstances under which they may operate etc).
The draft provisions provided in the draft DCO submitted with the application will be subject to examination by the appointed Examining Authority (ExA). Anybody who registers to become an Interested Party at the appropriate time in the Pre-examination period (as advertised by the Applicant) will be able to make representations to the ExA about any of the provisions in the draft DCO. The ExA will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State about whether development consent should be granted, and if so, what provisions are to be included in the DCO, including any provisions relating to night flights if the applicant requested these in its application. The Secretary of State will make the final decision on these matters. The authorised development will be prescribed in a Schedule to the DCO, if development consent is granted.