The key question relating to whether Manston has a future as an air freight cargo hub is that of commercial ‘need’ and this issue was highlighted by the Planning Inspectorate when it gave its verdict in 2019. It concluded that ‘the levels of freight that the Proposed Development could expect to handle are modest and could be catered for at existing airports’ and that ‘Manston appears to offer no obvious advantages to outweigh the strong competition that such airports offer’.
This was in line with the submission to the hearing by the Ramsgate Society in which we demonstrated that, however much some would wish to see this historic airport in action again, the lack of a viable business case meant that it could not succeed and therefore would not provide needed employment for the region.
The Secretary of State for Transport (SoS)rejected the Inspectors’ findings and granted a Development Consent Order (DCO)which was then challenged by a Judicial Review funded by a ‘Crowd Justice’ campaign that continues to monitor developments and provide legal support. Click here for the latest information on that campaign.
In December 2020 the High Court quashed the Secretary of State’s decision to grant the DCO on the grounds that his reasons for doing so could not be determined from the evidence considered by the Examining Authority at the Public Enquiry. As a result, the SoS is required to ‘redetermine’, and give justifiable reason for, his decision.
In June the Secretary of State appointed another independent aviation assessor to advise him on any changes in the intervening two years relating to the ‘need’ for the development. The new report from Ove Arup & Partners was issued in draft form on October 21st and concluded that: “there have been no significant changes since the 2019 report that would lead to different conclusions being reached with respect to the need for the Manston development.”
Following this the SoS wrote to interested parties, including The Ramsgate Society, inviting comments on the Arup report by November 19th, but now extended by him to December 3rd. A copy of the letter, with an explanation for the extension, can be found here.