A Development Consent Order (DCO) for an air freight hub on the Manston airport site has been redetermined. Approval was granted on August 18 and issued by Transport Minister, Karl McCartney MP on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport (SoS), -Grant Shapps at the time.

Some background may be helpful here. The DCO application was originally accepted for examination in August 2018 and the Examination in Public was completed on 9 July 2019. The Examination in Public, carried out by the Government’s own Planning Inspectorate was conducted on the basis of written and oral submissions to the examining panel and by eight issue-specific hearings, two compulsory acquisition hearings and four open floor hearings held in Margate and Sandwich.

The examining panel recommendation was for refusal. This body of evidence was rejected by the Secretary of State in granting the DCO in July 2020. His decision was, however, quashed by the Court in February 2021 following a Judicial Review challenge by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes, arguing that the SoS failed to present any justification for the approval decision. The SoS was then legally required to ‘redetermine’ the decision.

There then followed a re-examination of the Planning Inspectorate evidence. This was supplemented by a new independent assessor’s report by Ove Arup & Partners, commissioned by the Secretary of State. It was delivered in October 2021, and concluded that there is no justifiable need for a freight hub at the Manston airport site.

When the Courts quashed the first Development Consent Order, they described the Secretary of State’s decision as “unintelligible.” Inexplicably the Secretary of State has again rejected the advice of his own advisors and has granted the Development Consent Order a second time. Lawyers are currently preparing a Statement of Facts and Grounds as the first step in seeking to secure a second Judicial Review of the Secretary of State’s second decision. If you want to know more about the crowdfunding campaign to finance another Judicial Review you will find it here.

Richard Oades