Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Airport backed over extra flights

Kent International Airport
The airport's owner wants to see a huge increase in passenger numbers

Kent International Airport has been given the go-ahead to increase the number of morning and evening flights.

Approval for an extension to operating hours at the Manston site, allowing planes to take off or land between 0600 until 2330, was given on Thursday.

Airport owners Infratil had asked to increase the hours by one hour in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening.

It paves the way for a major European airline to locate its long haul international aircraft at the airport.

An agreement has yet to be reached but the new operating times could be introduced as early as May.

The decision will also have noise and air pollution consequences for the wider area
Steve Higgins, Stop Manston Expansion Group

Thanet District Council said a total of 11 movements a week of 747-400 aircraft had been proposed, with only a portion scheduled during the revised times.

The arrangements will be reviewed every six months and an independent environmental consultant will be brought in.

It said Infratil was also committed to improving noise monitoring and reporting.

Councillor Roger Latchford said such proposals required a careful balance between the environmental impact and creation of new jobs.

"That's always a difficult decision to make," he said.

"Having said that, these proposals are for a total of 18 months, with reviews built in during that time, and will see a relatively modest increase in the number of total aircraft movements.

'Grim news'

But the Stop Manston Expansion Group, which represents a number of residents and residents' associations in Thanet, described the news as "grim".

Spokesman Steve Higgins said: "Although Thanet council pay lip service to the environment and regeneration, they have decided that a rather dubious promise of a few jobs outweighs the enormous effort and investment businesses and residents have made... in restoring Ramsgate... to its former glory.

"The decision will also have noise and air pollution consequences for the wider area.

"This despite the fact that at no stage has Manston ever been subjected to the normal scrutiny and planning procedures."

The group said it is taking advice on whether to launch legal action against the decision.

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