Newsletter no 2, January 2013
Since we were set up in August 2012, we have attended two public meetings, attended the announcement by KLM, met the local MP Laura Sandys, and submitted evidence to two enquiries on SE Airport strategy.
The first meeting we attended was a debate arranged by Radio Kent, which took place near Rochester and the Isle of Grain, where a large airport was proposed ten years ago. There, the local opposition triumphed ten years ago, but came along again with their banners to say the same message, that such an airport is inappropriate and unnecessary. We all of course agreed with them, and they certainly seemed to have no objection to our proposal for greater use of Manston. Charles Buchanan, CEO of Manston, was on the panel of six, and must have convinced many.
On 13th November, the Dutch airline KLM announced that they will be running a regular service from Manston to Schiphol, Amsterdam, from which one can easily fly to over 100 destinations. This is a very exciting development, and must be supported by as many people as possible once the service starts on 2ndApril 2013. We hope you will tell your friends all about the new service (details are already available online, from KLM). KLM will be running the service for six months from April, and then see if the results justify continuing with it.
On 16th November four Committee members met with Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet. She seemed very open-minded about the prospects for Manston, and suggested it was not necessary to build a new rail terminal at Ramsgate, as there is plenty of room for greater use of Ramsgate Station. But she understandably has worries about the prospects of large cargo flights leaving in the middle of the night: something which we all agreed needed to be watched.
On 30th November the annual public meeting of KIACC, the consultative body on Manston Airport, took place in the Departure Lounge of the airport. About 100 people attended, including more than half of our committee of eleven, and there was a very civilized debate. Curiously, our opponents the No Night Flights group, were conspicuous by their absence. Perhaps they now realise that they only represent a small minority of the local residents, and do not like being outnumbered. The meeting was very fairly chaired by Paul Twyman, a former Councillor, and everyone had a chance to make their point. Clive Hart, Leader of Thanet Council, tried to justify the detailed attack he made on Manston in the Isle of Thanet Gazette in August, but Nicholas took up several of the points he made, and we agreed to disagree. Mr Hart still says his Council supports Manston, but was not able to quote any practical ways in which they have shown their support.
Meanwhile, there are two public enquiries being held to examine aviation policy in the SE. The one which has received a lot of publicity is the Government one, being run by the Department of Transport, to which we submitted evidence in October. This will be producing an interim report in 2013, and a final one in 2015.
There is a similar enquiry being held by the House of Commons Transport Committee, and we also submitted evidence to them. This started hearing oral evidence in October, and meets about once a month. All their proceedings, and a transcript of the oral evidence, is available online. We shall do our best to ensure we are one of those bodies who are allowed to present oral evidence.
Inaugural General Meeting
Lastly, we can announce the date of our Inaugural General Meeting. This will be on Friday 15th March 2013 at 5.30 pm. It will be held in the Departure Lounge of Manston Airport, by kind permission of the Airport. That date will be only two weeks before the launch of the new service provided by KLM! We shall be circulating a detailed Agenda to all our supporters nearer the time, and although any supporter is welcome to attend, only those who have paid the requested one-off amount of £10 will be allowed to vote on resolutions, one of which will be to adopt the Constitution. This too will be circulated in advance.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Nicholas Reed, Chairman, and the Committee of WNM?
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