The future of the former Manston airport site has been a long running and controversial issue. The Society has conducted its own primary research and closely monitors the arguments for and against. The Society’s position was, and remains, firmly rooted in the evidence.

On 18 August 2022, the Department for Transport announced that the Secretary of State had, for a second time, decided to grant a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the re-opening and re-development of the disused Manston Airport as an international cargo hub.

The first DCO had been quashed by the High Court in February 2021 when the Secretary of State, on the advice of his own legal team, conceded that his decision letter did not give adequate reasons for granting the Manston Airport Development Consent Order 2020.

The matter was then referred back to the Secretary of State, Grant Schapps, to redetermine the DCO Application. He appointed his own independent consultants, Arups, to advise him and they concluded that the original Inspectors decision to recommend refusal had been correct and that the DCO should again be refused. Once again, the Secretary of State overrode his own expert advice and granted approval for the second time. What is going on- you might well ask!

In its final report to the Secretary of State, the original Examining Authority said “the levels of freight that the Proposed Development could expect to handle are modest and could be catered for at existing airports” and that RSP had “failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the Proposed Development”. The Examining Authority concluded that “… the benefits of this proposal would not outweigh its adverse impacts” and recommended that the Secretary of State should not grant development consent.

Subsequently, Arups, the Independent Assessor appointed by the Secretary of State concluded that there had been no evidence presented in respect of the quantitative need case, nor significant or material changes to policy that would lead to different conclusions being reached to those reached by the Examining Authority in 2019.

The Society has always had concerns about the national need for an international cargo hub at Manston and the adverse environmental impacts the proposal would bring on the town of Ramsgate with its population of over 40,000 people living directly under the flight path. These concerns were clearly shared by the Examining Authority and the independent consultants Arups.

The decision by the Secretary of State continues to be contested.Permission to hold a further Judicial Review into this second DCO decision was granted by the Court on 23rd March 2023. It was based broadly on the lack of evidence of ‘need’ and on adverse impacts on climate change and the carbon ‘net zero’ target. This second Judicial Review hearing has been set for 5th and 6th July 2023. The total legal cost of this second JR will be in the region of £75,000 of which over £45,000 has already been raised from local donors with approximately £30,000 still to go.

If you would like to contribute to that fund please copy and paste the link below to take you to the Manston CrowdJustice donations website

John Walker