Thursday, 17 September 2015

Weaponize My Airport

Politics is a strange thing. Case in point. Last night I found myself in the public gallery at a meeting of Thanet Council’s Planning Committee  with a group of Save Manston Airport Campaigners . Now I’m well known as someone who doesn’t support the saving of Manston Airport and for my opposition to the use of a compulsory purchase order to protect the site for aviation purposes. So why was I rubbing shoulders and exchanging banter with people with whom I would normally be disagreeing?  The answer is a shared interest in military  drones!

Last night the Planning Committee was discussing an application from a company called Instro Precision, a subsidiary of arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems. The company was seeking  permission to build a factory on the former Manston airport site to produce advanced “target acquisition” technologies  to be installed in military drones and other weapons systems. The company is already operating at the Pysons Road Industrial Estate just outside Broadstairs and the East Kent Campaign Against the Arms Trade have occupied the roof of their  Broadstairs factory twice this year (well done you guys!). The move to the former Manston airport site is part of  what is  rumoured to be a  major expansion by Instro Precision.

Save Manston Airport campaigners are worried that granting planning permission for a large factory at the former airport would undermine their efforts to secure  a return of aviation to this site. I must admit to being impressed by the arguments that they used to back to up their case. Even the UKIP councillors, who now control Thanet Council and who are derided by lefties such as myself as being incapable of running  a council, had a strong intellectual command of the issues involved and put over their case in a reasoned and convincing way.

At East Kent Campaign Against Arms Trade Occupation of Instro's  Broadstiars Site.
My objections to the factory were different. Military drones have been responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent men women and children across the world. There is strong evidence to suggest that military drones have been used to commission war crimes. And there is no doubt that the use of drones is one of the causes  of the current refugee crisis. Morally I oppose the production and use of military drones and I will take peaceful direct action to disrupt and prevent the development of what I believe to be  a Manston Murder Manufactory on my doorstep.

At the meeting the planning officer said that in his opinion the proposed factory complied with all the relevant planning policies and that the application should be approved. Members of  the Planning Committee took the unusual step of voting against the officer recommendation. There then followed a hasty conflab of politicians, planners and legal advisers who sought to find a way  out of the difficult predicament. In the end it was agreed to defer a decision on the plan pending  more specialist technical advice being brought back to  a future meeting of the planning committee. This means that Instro Precision’s can now appeal to the Planning Inspectorate about TDCs failure to determine their application in a timely manner. The appeal will mean that a civil servant will decide the planning application and will almost certainly agree to the factory being built. Such an appeal will be very costly to the council and its tax payers.

My take on the decision is that because of their election promises to save the airport UKIP and the Tories has little option but to defer the planning application. They desperately need  to  protect their credibility and   play for time with the forthcoming compulsory purchase decision which I am convinced will be a resounding no! But that’s for another post on my blog at another time.

Finally, I  must say that I am seriously fucked off with the new owners of the former Manston Airport site. When launching their vision for the site, earlier this year, they played on the sustainability   and environmental credentials of their plans. At a meeting with the owner’s representatives they tried to convince me that their  development would be ground breaking and a model of best environmental practice. I was very enthused by what I was told. But facilitating the location of  a factory which will produce technologies which will inevitably be  used in the subjugation, terrorising  and ultimately perhaps the murder of innocent people is not my idea of a sustainable, environmentally friendly and green development. Sorry Stone Park, or whatever you are called,  I’m not buying it. You are the landlords of this massive site. You say who and what is allowed on your site. If you are seriously considering including the Instro Precision factory as part of you industrial and residential development on the former airport site you have lost my support.  Thanet desperately needs new jobs and inward investment to provide a future for our children and the former Manston Airport site is absolutely critical to the regeneration of Thanet. But there are many, much more ethical, options open to the site owners than weaponizing the airport site.  Please think again



  1. Ian if you had to choose between The SHP plan with Instro Precision or Riveroak Airport?

    For me it is Riveroak, reason quite simple is Stone Hill Park Owners at every stage have lied, bent truths, having money problems at similar business park at Wynyard and had no intentions of running the airport as an airport and gave it no chance in 100 years to succeed. I can not trust them!!! Riveroak have not once lied with their intentions and can see the potential in the airport and after 18months still interested.

    So Ian, option SHP or option Riveroak????

  2. Who said it has to be SHP or Riveroak? Return the site to a field to protect the aquifer rather than these not needed housebuilds masquerading as economic development.

  3. 4 ukippers quit over this dodgy deal. The council rejects the bureaucrats advice yet somehow it isn't rejected but referred to the plannimg inspectorate in Bristol? ? Why? Wells is playing the same games as when he was a tory

  4. Instro can buy or build a factory anywhere in Thanet - why at Manston? Especially if they have to build to adapt the site? The security fence could be easily breached as at their existing factory.

  5. 22:30 Cllr Evans has lost control of Planning to the officers already. they will lead him on a dance to do what they want.