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Controversial airport plans fail to take flight

Controversial plans to allow aircraft to take off and land at a Kent airport from 6am until 11.30pm have gone down like a lead balloon among environmental campaigners.

Councillors are expected to decide next Thursday whether to alter a Section 106 environmental agreement - a move that would allow dozens of night-time flights to and from Kent International Airport every month.

Infratil, the New Zealand firm that owns the Manston site, wants to accommodate a major European airline that wants to use the airport for long haul international cargo movements. The as-yet-unnamed company hopes to fly 747 aircraft into the airport up to 11 times a week.

Thanet council says the move could create up to 200 jobs but campaigners claim the inevitable increase in air and noise pollution would be intolerable for residents living beneath the flight path.

Steve Higgins, founder of Stop Manston Expansion Group, said: "What will these flights drive away from Ramsgate and the surrounding towns and villages?

"So many people will affected by these proposals but we seem to have been forgotten about by our local councillors and our MPs."

Steve Dawe, a spokesman for Kent Green Party, added: "If you or I made noise at night after 11pm, the police could be called. There is no such law protecting people from civil aviation at night, so people have no comeback against the airport.

"I think this is the thin end of the wedge and concessions which allow for more noise will pave the way for further development in the future.”

The announcement has divided opinion, with a straw poll on kmfm on Thursday morning suggesting the majority of Ramsgate residents favoured the airport's expansion plans.

Some listeners pointed to the economic benefits that extra flights would bring and others said the infrastructure necessary to support additional flights was already in place and should be utilised.

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