An independent impact assessment was completed by Wind Business Support Ltd which found the proposed mast would not affect the operational viability of the airport, and could be safely managed without significant impact on airport users.
Standard routing procedures
The proposed Richborough mast is located at a right angle to the single Manston Airport runway, outside of the approach and departure routes of commercial aircraft using the airport. The mast would not have affected Manston Airport’s previous standard operating procedures.
Visual manoeuvring (circling) is likely to have been a rare occurrence at Manston Airport due to the single runway layout. There are no obstruction reasons why aircraft using an instrument approach to either end of the Manston runway (denoted runway 28 and runway 10) would need to conduct visual manoeuvring (circling). Whilst future airport procedures would likely restrict visual manoeuvring (circling) within the sector in which the proposed mast is located, manoeuvring could be readily accommodated through a standard aviation process called sectorisation, and would therefore not prevent visual manoeuvring (circling) at the airport.
Light (non-commercial) Aircraft
Manston Airport’s previously used a circuit height of 1,000 feet above ground level for light aircraft conducting training, hazard checking or familiarization circuits. The proposed mast falls to the south of the airport requiring a small modification of the southern circuit only to safely clear the mast. This can be achieved without overflying populated areas or stopping any of the intended activities. It is commonplace for aerodromes of all sizes to manage local obstacles, with both Bristol and Cardiff Airports located near to similar sized obstacles which are noted in their documentation and accommodated. It is therefore concluded that the mast would not prevent the use of the airport as before by light aircraft.
Civil Aviation Authority
Upon being asked about the scheme’s direct impact on Manston Airport the CAA stated “At this stage I have no comment and Airspace Regulation have not received any application that might point at the intended use of Manston as an aerodrome in the future. If such an application was received, any tall structure could have an impact on operations from the aerodrome, but is unlikely to have an impact from an aerodrome licensing or Air Traffic Zone (ATZ) perspective.”
National Air Traffic Services
NATS have responded through the formal consultation process and stated “The proposed development has been examined from a technical safeguarding aspect and does not conflict with our safeguarding criteria. Accordingly, NATS (En Route) Public Limited Company ("NERL") has no safeguarding objection to the proposal.”
Height reduction commitment
Vigilant Global has committed to including a clause within a S106 agreement, which would reduce the height of the mast if it prohibits a commercial licence for Manston Airport from being issued by the CAA. The reduced height would enable many of the community benefits to continue (including the improved Vfast broadband provision and improved services for Dover Community Radio and Academy FM), but it would no longer be suitable for our communications needs.
This commitment provides further assurance that the re-opening of Manston Airport would not be affected by the mast.
“Vigilant Global have worked to address our aviation related concerns and, reassured by the inclusion of a height reduction clause, we now believe the proposed Richborough mast will not impede the re-opening and operational viability of Manston Airport.” Supporters of Manston Airport Committee
The proposed mast would not prevent the future use of Manston Airport by any potential future users. Whilst the mast would constitute a local obstacle, it can be safely managed. The use of procedures and local flight regulations that account for the proposed mast would enable the normal use of the aerodrome. In addition, the proposed height reduction clause, to be included within the legally binding S106 agreement in any planning consent, ensures the mast would not impede the re-opening and operational viability of the airport.