Visit for the full story.
(This is just a left-over bit of blog - you wait till you see the new website!)

Monday, 15 November 2010

New website

The No Night Flights blog is changing from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan! Visit

to see the new version, and tell us what you think.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Cargolux fined. Again.

The European Commission has fined 11 airlines almost 800m euros (£690m) for fixing the price of air cargo between 1999 and 2006.  Had the Commission not intervened the "deplorable" cartel "would have continued", said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.  The illegal cartel had harmed both companies and consumers, he said.

British Airways was fined 104m euros, Air France-KLM 340m euros and Cargolux Airlines 79.9m euros.  The fines follow lengthy investigations by regulators in Europe, the US and Asia, dating back to 2006.  The EU said that the airlines "co-ordinated their action on surcharges for fuel and security without discounts", between early 1999 and 2006. "The carriers contacted each other so as to ensure that worldwide air freight carriers imposed a flat rate surcharge per kg for all shipments."

The Commission imposed the biggest fine - 340m euros - on Air France-KLM, which was formed from a merger in 2004 and which now owns Martinair, which was also fined.  "It is deplorable that so many major airlines coordinated their pricing to the detriment of European businesses and European consumers," said Mr Almunia.  "With today's decision the Commission is sending a clear message that it will not tolerate cartel behaviour."

Airline: Fine (euros)
Air France-KLM (includes Martinair): 339.6m
British Airways: 104m
Cargolux: 79.9m [Click here to read about their earlier $124m fine in the USA]
Singapore Airlines: 74.8m
SAS: 70.2m
Cathay Pacific: 57.1m
Japan Airlines: 35.7m
Air Canada: 21m
Qantas: 8.9m
LAN Chile: 8.2m

BA said it had already made a £350m provision for any possible fines over the cargo price fixing.  A BA spokesman said the airline's fine fell "within the provision made by the company in its 2006/7 report and accounts".  The German carrier Lufthansa escaped a fine because it alerted the regulatory authorities to the cartel.  The maximum fine the Commission could have imposed on any single carrier was 10% of their 2009 turnover.

The US Department of Justice has already charged 18 airlines and several executives in its investigation of the cargo cartel and imposed more than $1.6bn (£997m) in fines.  The Commission's decision will have an impact on several pending legal actions by European companies against some of the airlines.  A group of firms, led by the Swedish telecoms group Ericsson and Dutch electronics giant Philips, are suing Air France-KLM and its Martinair subsidiary for 400m euros.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Bureau Veritas request

The clever people at Bureau Veritas have peer reviewed BAP's technical noise report that accompanied Infratil's recent application. Even though it's apparently only in draft form, this provided TDC with the courage and ammunition to reject Infratil's bid.

At the recent Ramsgate Town Council meeting, Charles Buchanan said that he had not (yet) seen the BV report. Earlier that same day, the local press had been quoting figures from the BV report. As we know from previous experience with the BAP report, even early drafts turn out to have a very close resemblance to the finished report.

If any of you lovely people have a draft (or final copy) of the Bureau Veritas report, do feel free to send it in. We're bursting with curiosity, and it will help us prepare for the next round. Email it in to us and please indicate whether you DO or DON'T want us to publish it.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Our Children Speak.........

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you to discuss the potential night flights over Ramsgate, speaking on the behalf of all the children in Ramsgate (and other towns that will be affected by night flights).Although it may not seem like a major issue to some people, it is a concern to the locals, in particular the children.

If you were at the meeting at Chatham House, you will have heard all the points against night flights (from locals such as Sue Kennedy), and seen the huge crowd gathered to protest against Manston going ahead with their plans. I was surprised that there were five councillors missing, since this is a major debate.

Anyway, on to the points against night flights. Many of these were brought up during the course of the evening. Firstly, the harm that the noise can do to children. It has been scientifically proven that loud noises are not good for anyone, especially young children and babies. No one should be exposed to more than 50 decibels of noise (according to studies carried out by scientists) and young children and babies shouldn’t be exposed to more than 40 decibels. Yet 747’s sent from Manston can make 60-80 decibels of noise heard from Ramsgate and St. Peters. This is bad enough during the day, but the night time? It would be like sleeping through a tornado. It would be practically impossible.

According to research done by Cornell University, night flights will result in a drop in achievement of children at school. As everyone knows, children are the seeds of the future, and underachievement at school could result in disaster in 20-30 years’ time. Also, night flights will result in increasing health problems in the Isle of Thanet (source of information; World Health Organisation or WHO).

The people running the airport would argue that they could give people jobs. But would all of those jobs go to locals? No. In fact, an estimate of 16 local jobs has been predicted. Besides, Labour (who has recently sided against night flights) claimed that the promise of jobs ‘was merely an aspiration’.

Thank you for reading my letter on night flights.

Yours sincerely, Hal, aged 10. Ramsgate.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Planning permission needed for Manston

Comment from Cllr Clive Hart - Leader of Thanet Labour Group at TDC:
I'm pleased to see that the Conservative group at TDC agree with us that the current night flying application is unacceptable. I wish to make it absolutely clear that our Labour Group is supportive of the airport and maximising the employment opportunities it will create, but this must not be at any price for Thanet's residents.
We certainly do need to balance the economic benefits against environmental considerations. However the proposed night-time flying policy does not appear to do that and leaves far too many uncertainties, that is why we decided not to support the application.
We have not ruled ourselves out of any future debate because the current application is not being treated as a planning application and therefore the rules on predetermination simply do not apply. Indeed, one of the matters of concern in making our own decision was that we felt that any changes such as the those sought at present may well require planning permission.

Video snippets from the RTC public meeting 25th October

Many thanks to our Multimedia Department (Outside Broadcast Unit) for the following video snippets...

Jobs Promised 8½ mins

Noise & Health 6½ mins

Worse health and education services? 2 mins

Follow the money 1½ mins

Impossible to land planes safely until NEXT November 2½ mins

Living Next to Noisy neighbours 2 mins

WRIT of MANDAMUS (A writ issued by a superior court ordering a public official or body or a lower court to perform a specified duty)

Our MPs’ views on Night Flights 1½ mins

Development & Public Safety Zones 3 mins

Previous Court Judgement about Planning Permission 5 mins

It makes all the difference, remembering to press the start button. Ahem.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Political Posturing on Night Flights

'Dr' Simon Moores started things this morning with the question "Thanet Labour Disqualified from Taking Part in Manston Night Flight Decision?"

Playing on the total confusion around the subject of predetermination rules, our Simes suggests that the airport night flight decision is a "planning-related matter". Labour councillors, by rejecting the "current" application just as Bob Bayford did yesterday, seem to have pre-judged a planning matter publicly.

"Utter b&ll$cks", said our political/legal/planning expert. "The airport has no planning permission, and Bob Bayford keeps reminding us that he is only consulting the public out of the kindness of his own heart."

Uncle Bob Bayford weighs in late on Tuesday with a "open letter" to the Labour leader Clive Hart to ask if his party is now one of ''total opposition to 'any' night time flying activity at Manston Airport".

As much as we would like Conservative or Labour to reject them outright, neither party has. You only have to read Labour's Press Release or the Council Press Release to understand that . May I suggest that all political parties put their dummies back in their mouths, put the teddies back in the pram and read everything again. Carefully.

Just to dwell on Bob Bayford's position - "I also believe that the proposed upper level of activity is too high and needs to be reconsidered. I am not prepared to start a public consultation until these issues have been resolved."

May we suggest, Uncle Bob, that this quite clearly states that you will pre-determine an acceptable level of night time flying activity - acceptable to you, that is - before allowing an Infratil night time flying policy to go to public consultation?

Answers on a postcard please as to what rules, laws, bodies Bob is putting himself in contradiction/conflict with.

One final point to all Councillors. No Night Flights is non-party political. Red, Blue, Yellow, Green - not fussed which party you come from. We support the right of a full night's sleep, every night, to East Kent's residents. We support a successful Manston which operates as much business as it can during more sociable hours - as many successful airport across the country do. Oh, and 24,000 people so far have shown an interest in where you live in relation to the flightpath. 

Sleep tight - while you can.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Consultation stops before it starts

Across east Kent, along the flightpath, all the boys and girls awoke with a thrill of anticipation. "Today's the day! Today's the day!" - they thought as they scrubbed their little faces clean, "Today's the day we finally get asked about what we want to happen to our sky". Their little eyes, once sparkling with excitement, are now bloodshot with tears of frustration and disappointment.

Yes folks, although it was once scheduled to start TODAY, the public consultation has been stopped in its tracks. Thanet District Council CEO Richard Samuel, and TDC Leader Cllr Bayford met Manston's CEO Charles Buchanan to break the bad news - his proposal doesn't merit consideration.

How did it come to this? TDC bent over backwards to accommodate Infratil's requests/demands during the British Airways World Cargo fiasco. Their embarrassment at the unseemly haste of it all (coupled with the need to bounce their neighbouring councils into agreeing at short notice to buy a pig in a poke) led them to press Infratil for a formal night flying request. Days, weeks and months passed. Which came as a surprise to anyone who had believed Infratil's talk of the pressing commercial urgency of having permission for scheduled night freight.

Eventually Infratil produced a remarkably shabby and utterly useless document that lacked a few vital ingredients - numbers, for instance. This was sent back to them, marked "must try harder". More time passed. Thanet's CEO Richard Samuel apparently prodded Infratil twice to get cracking and produce something worth looking at.

Hand on heart, I have to say I am taken aback at the rubbish Infratil have put out. To jog your memory - Infratil are a billion dollar multi-national, and they would have us believe that night freight will be the make-or-break factor for their strategic move into European aviation. It was clear, even to my untrained eye, that their proposal to TDC was riddled with unrealistic forecasts, unsupported assertions and manifestly unacceptable conditions. The "supporting" documents from BAP noise consultants are a mixed bag: the technical stuff is incomprehensible, the comprehensible stuff is laughable.

With a commendable display of common sense, and a degree of self-interest, TDC has thrown the latest tawdry offering back at Infratil. (See how TDC present the story further down the page.) As you will see, TDC have twigged that they are once again being given the runaround by the greedy kiwis. Infratil shot themselves in the feet by (i) asking for an absurdly high annual noise allowance, and then (ii) bodging the counting system so that nobody could understand what it would translate into in practice. It would appear the Bureau Veritas, employed by TDC to "peer review" the proposal, have warned them to steer clear.

A possible future problem arises from the wording of TDC's press release:
...before residents have their say, they need to know more detail and have a full understanding of exactly how many aircraft movements are being discussed. That information is difficult to gauge from the proposals that have been put to us, partly because of its technical nature and this needs further work. I also believe that the proposed upper level of activity is too high and needs to be reconsidered. I am not prepared to start a public consultation until these issues have been resolved.
To me, this carries the suggestion of an auction-style conversation between the airport owners and the council to determine what is "acceptable" long before Jo Public gets a look-in, which isn't my idea of a consultation.

Plans for a public consultation on a new night-time flying policy for Manston Airport have been stopped by Thanet District Council.

The night-time flying plans were submitted by the airport to the council in late September 2010. When the plans were received, the council said it would carry out an independent review of the noise assessment report, produced by the airport as part of their application, before any consultation started. An initial draft of this report was received recently and the final report is expected soon, when it will be made public.

Following careful consideration of this draft report and taking account of the considerable public interest in the future direction of the airport, Council Leader Cllr. Bob Bayford and Chief Executive Richard Samuel met with the airport’s CEO Charles Buchanan on Monday 1 November. The airport agreed to revise the detail contained within the proposal. The council will not open any public consultation until this has been received.

The council indicated that elements of the night flying policy needed more clarification to ensure that the public could be provided with a better understanding of how it would be managed, how it would link to the business need for the plans, and examples of how many aircraft movements could potentially take place during the night. Cllr. Bayford said:
“I have met with Charles Buchanan to advise him that, after careful consideration over the last couple of weeks, the proposals that have been submitted have insufficient detail in some areas to be acceptable to the council. We’ve had an initial report through from our consultants, which has confirmed that there are areas of clarification that require further work before local residents are consulted. I believe that, before residents have their say, they need to know more detail and have a full understanding of exactly how many aircraft movements are being discussed. That information is difficult to gauge from the proposals that have been put to us, partly because of its technical nature and this needs further work. I also believe that the proposed upper level of activity is too high and needs to be reconsidered. I am not prepared to start a public consultation until these issues have been resolved. I am pleased to say that the airport has agreed to review these issues.
 “The council remains supportive of the airport and maximising the employment opportunities it can create and sustain, but this cannot be at any price for local residents. As a council, we need to balance the economic benefits carefully against environmental considerations. The proposed night-time flying policy doesn’t fully allow us to do that, as it leaves uncertainties that need to be clarified before we consult the public.
 “I have confirmed with the airport that they will receive a copy of our advisor’s report as soon as it’s finalised. From this, they have agreed to develop fuller information that we will consult on. I recognise, as does the airport, that this may take time, but it is important to get this right.”