After undertaking an ecological survey as part of the development of its proposed Night-time Flying Policy, Manston Airport has been given a clean bill of health by Natural England, the non-departmental government body responsible for vetting such reports.
Under the EU Habitat Regulations, Manston was required to undertake the study into its impact on local habitats, and to consult Natural England whose statutory purpose is to contribute to sustainable development by ensuring that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced, and managed for the benefit of present and future generations.
Charles Buchanan, Chief Executive of Manston Airport, said: “The positive response from Natural England confirms our long held belief that the operation of the airport would not have any significant impact on the locally designated sites of special scientific interest, and the wildlife, flora and fauna found there.”
Following the results of the ecological survey, Manston consulted with Natural England, which concluded that the application is not likely to be an adverse effect on the Thanet Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which is five kilometres from the airport.
Natural England is also responsible for setting out conservation objectives for European protected sites within the Natura 2000 network in England, made up of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA).
The government body has also concluded that the Night-time Flying Policy, if undertaken in accordance with the details submitted, is not likely to have a significant effect on the Thanet Coast SAC; the Sandwich Bay SAC; the Thanet Coast & Sandwich Bay SPA; or the Thanet Coast & Sandwich Bay Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance.
As a result, Natural England has advised Manston Airport that no further study in the form of an Appropriate Assessment is required for the Night-Flying proposal.
Charles Buchanan added: “Prior to responding to Thanet District Council’s comments on the proposed Night-time Flying Policy, Manston Airport will now undertake a three week public consultation on the Habitats Regulations Screening Assessment, and the findings which have been accepted by Natural England.”
The ecological assessment was undertaken last year by Aspect Ecology Ltd to comply with the Airport’s obligation under the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010, and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.
Members of the public have until 1 March 2013 to comment on the reports and responses which are available online at www.manstonairport.com. Printed copies are available for inspection from the Airport’s terminal building.