Well, here I am back in the comfort of the old cliff top mansion in the old Millionaires' Playground, after my old trip to foreign climes! I'm sure you're all going to give me a warm welcome home. In fact the dog poo on the hall carpet was still warm. Which was a nice touch.
And no sooner am I back in harness, than I've thrown myself headlong into investigating these noxious night flights that the owners of Chas 'n' Dave Margate International Airport have requested. Remember, it's not just an extra 90 minutes kip they want to deprive you off. They've put in for a 'quota' system that will allow them to fly knackered old Jumbos full of rotting bananas over your bonces all night. Quite what the quota will be, nobody knows, as they haven't specified what they want. How any sort of meaningful 'consultation' can be held when the terms of the request aren't known, lord knows!
They say that this so far meaningless 'quota' system applies at other regional airports. Well, I've searched Google maps high and low, and I can't find any other regional airport with a town of 40,000 people and 911 listed buildings at the end of the runway. But there's more.
Ever since the airport's foreign owners Infratil put in this request last month, mystery and confusion has surrounded the 'consultation' period. If I was a cynical sort, I might say that was a deliberate tactic on the part of those supposedly 'impartial' council officers who are well known privately to be rabid supporters of noisy, aluminium lumps robbing us of our hard-earned nightly snooze. Eventually it transpired that there was a 6 month 'consultation' period, with a 12 week public 'consultation' period to start after the next Airport Working Party Committee meeting (chaired by Tory poodle Cllr Mike Harrison). Trouble was, there wasn't another committee meeting scheduled until next year, although one has now been hastily arranged and will take place this Thursday. So the public 'consultation' starts 21 September and ends 11 December.
The surprise is that the clock is already ticking on the 6 month (er, what shall we call it, 'private'?) 'consultation', and has been since Infratil lodged the request a month ago. Er, nobody made that clear, did they? One would have to assume that TDC and Infratil have been stitching this up months before the official request was put in, effectively giving them a hefty head start over anyone who might wish to put together a reasonable case against the night flights. What's more, according to the daft 'consultation' plan which TDC have now published here, roadshows will be held around the island - all during the middle of the day when anyone with a job, who might reasonably be wary about night flight blight interrupting their 8 hours, will presumably be out earning a crust! Not only that, but they'll be staffed by the very people who have vested interests in persuading the public that night flights are a good thing - council officers, Infratil and Mike 'The Poodle' Harrison!