Kent’s Thanet coastline and a number of towns and villages are facing disaster, the effects of which will be felt much further afield.
The disused airport at Manston has been given permission by the Government to re-open as a highly-polluting cargo hub. This is against the advice of the Government’s own planning experts, which sets a worrying precedent in the face of air pollution and climate change.
According to the Government’s own experts, re-opening the airport will damage the local economy and impact negatively on the UK’s carbon budget and our commitments to the Paris climate agreement.
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Manston Airport sits 0.3 miles from Ramsgate in Kent, in the far south-east corner of England. A former military airfield, this short-lived commercial airport closed in 2014 having failed under three previous owners.
In 2018 an application was made to the Government for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to turn the disused site into a dedicated cargo airport.
After two years’ rigorous investigation, the Examining Authority (EA) (comprising a panel of four Planning Inspectors) appointed by the Secretary of State to conduct an examination of the application reported that the airport would: “have a material impact on the ability of Government to meet its carbon reduction targets”.
The EA also noted that, due to demand being met elsewhere, a new cargo airport is not needed, either locally or nationally. The EA said: “the levels of freight that the Proposed Development could expect to handle are modest and could be catered for at existing airports” and that the would-be airport developer had: “failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the Proposed Development.”
The EA concluded that ‘on balance the benefits of this proposal would not outweigh its impacts’ and recommended that the Government should NOT grant development consent.
The Government has ignored this conclusion and given Manston Airport DCO the go ahead.
The cargo-first development at Manston will handle the noisiest and most polluting type of aircraft, planes not even allowed at Heathrow. These are also the most expensive way of moving freight.
The opening of a dedicated cargo hub will cause irreparable harm to the people, the natural environment and the economy of East Kent. Residents in the seaside towns of Ramsgate and Herne Bay, and in surrounding villages, will be living under low-flying, heavy-duty, highly-polluting aircraft. Some will be a mere 500ft below the flight path.
It will ruin our health and well-being as well as blighting the tourist industry on which so many depend. This will not only be a disaster for local people and our towns and villages, but also for the climate change obligations of the UK.