Work expected to start on Manston Airport redevelopment following Court of Appeal judgement

-Credit: (Image: James Stewart)
-Credit: (Image: James Stewart)


Work is expected to start on the redevelopment of Manston Airport "with certainty" following a Court of Appeal judgement last week. The Court has dismissed the application from campaigner and Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes to appeal against the Manston Airport Development Consent Order (DCO) decision - paving the way for work to begin to re-open the airport as a cargo hub, more than 10 years after it closed.

Ms Dawes, 77, succeeded in initiating a judicial review of the Government’s decision to grant a DCO, but it was dismissed earlier this year. In February, Ms Dawes was granted the right to appeal by Lord Justice Warby.

A judgement issued by Lord Justice Peter Jackson, Lord Justice Lewis and Lord Justice Warby on Tuesday, May 21, following a hearing at the Court of Appeal in April, means the DCO announced by the Department for Transport in August 2022 remains granted and owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) can begin work to recruit staff both for the construction phase and for operational roles once the airport is ready to re-open.

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Planning, construction, recruitment and the completion of the airspace change project is anticipated to take three years to complete – with the airport ready to receive flights in 2027.

Tony Freudmann, director of RSP, expressed his thanks for the support of local people and stakeholders through the process and his relief at a conclusion to a planning process which has cost millions of pounds of public and private sector money – and taken seven years to resolve.

He said: “We have always remained confident in our proposals and unshaken in our belief that we can create something very special at Manston which delivers both important capacity for UK air freight – and a sustainable economic boost for east Kent,” he said. “It’s time to turn our plans into reality.

“Although the past seven years have been intensely frustrating at times, the fact we have gone all the way to the Court of Appeal means no stone has been left unturned in the examination of our proposals. We can now deliver our plans knowing with certainty that we have demonstrated, beyond question, that Manston has a vital role to play in addressing the airspace capacity issues blighting London and the South East – and that this historic and strategically important airport can reinvent itself once again to meet the nation’s needs in the global marketplace.”

Craig Mackinlay, the former Conservative MP for South Thanet who recently announced he would not be standing for re-election at the general election, welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision. He said: "We can now get Manston up and flying again providing post-Brexit Britain with further air freight and passenger capacity.

"The airport will bring a level of investment not seen in east Kent since the Channel Tunnel and has the capacity to create hundreds and then thousands of jobs in airport-related businesses in our region. My thanks to RiverOak Strategic Partners for seeing this through when others may have folded and walked away given the level of hostility from some quarters towards them. This is a great day for Thanet.”

Ramsgate resident Ms Dawes, 77, said in February: “The airport has never worked commercially. It has failed three times and was more profitable as a lorry park than it was in 15 years as an airport. Throwing money at something doesn’t make it more viable.

"We’ve already missed a great opportunity for developing Manston. Meanwhile, our local green fields, farmland and villages are being lost to Government house building quotas."

The Campaign Against the Re-opening of Manston Airport has been contacted for comment.

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