Benefits Of Kent Airport Growth Questioned

Written by Nick

The Kent Green Party have responded to plans for the expansion of Manston Airport in Kent as ‘flights of fancy’. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has also responded by saying that the plans put forward by Infratil, the current owners of Manston Airport, are unrealistic.

Manston Airport which was taken over by Infratil three years ago currently handles some 16,000 travellers per year. Infratil hopes that passenger numbers will increase dramatically over the next couple of years to reach one million by 2011.

Infratil claims that with the right investment opportunities, Manston Airport could offer a valuable alternative for tourism and freight as London Airports such as Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and Luton become more congested.

With improved road networks and passenger facilities such as airport parking, Infratil predict that Manston Airport could potentially handle up to six million passengers a year by 2033. Further claims are that…

  • Freight traffic  would increase from 33,000 tonnes to 500,000 tonnes
  • Jobs generated by the airport would reach 3,500 by 2018 and up to 7,500 by 2033

With the final version of the master plan due to be published in early 2009, many opponents to the expansion are claiming that the plan is flawed and does not take into account the rapidly contracting air industry or the severe economic slow down.

Industry Future

Steve Dawe, spokesman for the Kent Green Party said that “Coupled with the current recession which is already beginning to reduce the number of flights being taken, plans for Manston Airport to expand are literally ‘flights of fancy’. The party has called for a “more relistic” use of the site including allotments and other leisure and agricultural  uses to benefit the surrounding area and local communities.

Spokesman for The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Chris Lowe said that the airport plan put forward by Infratil fell far short of the mark. He went on to say that “The master plan is full of aspirations, but is very light on justification”.

“It is impossible to see what the impacts of such major growth will be – not only on Thanet, but on Kent and beyond – as the necessary supporting work has not been done.”

“As it stands, the master plan raises more questions than providing answers.”

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