Press Releases & Public Statements

Gale's View - Sir Roger Gale M.P.

8th February, 2017

The two meetings held at the weekend, at Margate Winter Gardens on Saturday and at the Manston Sports and Social Club on Sunday, should have sent a very clear message to the Leader of Thanet District Council (who attended for part of Saturday's meeting), to those at present in control of Manston Airport and to what at present passes for "leadership" at County Hall. Contrary to the suggestion made recently that Thanet's second Draft Local Plan, which seeks to zone Manston for housing and industrial use, has "killed off hope" of re- opening Manston as a commercial airfield progress towards the necessary Development Consent Order is moving inexorably forward.

The decision by the Planning Inspectorate to dismiss the feeble objections raised on behalf of Messrs Cartner and Musgrave leading to a Ministerial decision to grant RiverOak access to the site to carry out the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) denote a recognition that the project to re- open Manston is, as I have consistently said, of National significance.

In tandem with the most thorough EIA ever undertaken in East Kent the company seeking to acquire Manston will, having identified every household with a potentially affected interest in the airfield, not only in Thanet but in Herne Bay, Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Dover write to them to seek observations. There will then be a full round of on-the-record public consultations available to each location culminating in the formal submission of the full environmental and business case for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate.  There will then be a full public inquiry and a recommendation made, following consideration of all the evidence, by the Inspector to the Secretary of State for Transport who will take the final decision whether or not to grant the Development Consent Order. This process will take time and will cost RiverOak a great deal of the money that Cllr. Wells, the present Leader of TDC, claims that the company does not have. When national interest is at stake the effort and expenditure are worth it.

Last year air freight traffic grew by nearly seven per cent. With Brexit and the need to compensate for the loss of European business by developing new markets in Asia and the Far East we are going to need much more freight, as well as passenger, capacity in the South East. That capacity, without Manston Airport simply will not be available. The facility is going to be vital to service our Country's immediate and future needs.

For the sake of UK limited, as well as for the prosperity of East Kent, I urge all of those in the area who support this cause to both write in objection to Thanet's Local Plan proposals for the airport and to respond to a Kent County Council consultation on the proposed Thanet Parkway station from which County Hall has noticeably airbrushed out Manston Airport while concentrating on a ' Stone Hill Park' that does not exist on any map known to man. It is the future of our children and our grandchildren that is at stake.

 

 

 

Sir Roger Gale MP and Carol Vorderman launch all-party group for general aviation

 January 18, 2017 (Source SuMA)
 
Carol Vorderman has joined an all party Parliamentary group (APPG) which yesterday launched a fight for the £3bn General Aviation sector that creates jobs & inspires young people to participate in STEM. The group includes Grant Shapps and Sir Roger Gale.
 
Ms Vorderman tweeted last night, “And FIRST item on the agenda for the brand new All Party Parliamentary Group for GA is halting closure of airfields for house building only”
 
Kent News reports today –
 
“The campaign to save Manston Airport rolled into the House of Commons this week following the launch of an all-party group for general aviation.
 
Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale renewed his vow to fight to see Manston re-opened and aircraft once again landing and taking off at the historic airfield, describing it as an “act of corporate vandalism” on the same week that Thanet District Council opens its consultation into amendments to its local plan, where it proposes the site will be turned over for mixed-use, rather than just aviation.
A report by consultants Avia Solutions last year concluded that airport operations at Manston were “very unlikely to be financially viable”.
 
Sir Roger was joined at the launch by television personality Carol Vorderman, who owns and flies her own light aircraft and has previously done so from Manston.
 
At the meeting, the former Countdown star stressed the importance of the contribution made by the Air Cadets, for whom she is an ambassador, to the training of tomorrow’s young pilots and engineers and of the country’s airfields to the future of jobs and prosperity both now and post-Brexit.
 
Sir Roger himself paid tribute to the late Ted Girdler, the former Red Arrows pilot and founder of TG Aviation, and for his family’s work in running a flying club and promoting general aviation.
 
He also called upon the group to press for legislation to protect airfields from changes in planning use, saying that “once these national assets are gone they are lost forever”.
 
The group has been formed under the chairmanship of the MP Byron Davies to promote the interests of general aviation and to protect further airfields from closure and re-development as “brownfield sites”. Mr Davies said: “General aviation is worth over £3 billion to the UK annually, provides unrivalled training to our pilots and supports a huge industry of enthusiastic aviators.
 
“Aviation has a long and proud tradition in the UK and supports thousands of jobs in constituencies across the country yet it faces a crisis that must be averted.
“Together with [former party chairman, aviation minister and private pilot] Grant Shapps, we seek to change the current situation by supporting the industry as strongly as possible and to seek to influence government policy.”
 

 

"RiverOak – Manston Airport Aviation Academy

 January 16, 2017 (Source: SuMA)
 
RiverOak have produced a document, dated September 2016, entitled 'MANSTON AIRPORT - AVIATION ACADEMY', in response to the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission. In it, they talk about their vision to create a Manston Aviation Academy should their application for a DCO be successful.
 
“Our vision is for a vibrant freight-focused airport, employing local, well-trained people and supporting local, regional and national businesses. In order to meet this challenge, it is essential that we train and educate local people in line with the needs of the business. However, the opportunity exists for a much more comprehensive vision of an academy designed to bring together the aerospace industry with academia (universities, colleges and potentially schools), in line with UK and European government policy. As such, RiverOak are keen to establish an aviation academy close to or on the Manston Airport site.”
 

Manston Airport Public Support Meeting – Gate Closing!

 

Public Meeting for Supporters to be Held on Saturday 4th February 2017

 

Tickets for the Public Support meeting for an Aviation future for Manston have been very popular. There are just twenty tickets left for anyone who wishes to attend and show their support. An excellent line up of speakers will detail the business opportunities at Manston as an Aviation hub. The meeting will be chaired by David Foley, CEO of Thanet Chamber of Commerce.

 

This technical meeting, supported by groups fighting to save the airport, will take place in the Winter Gardens (Queens Hall) Margate, from 10 am till 2 pm on Saturday 4 February 2017.  It will be a platform for relevant subject experts to explain how Manston Aviation Hub could generate a viable business and revenue streams for Manston from cargo handling, aircraft recycling, pilot training and private flying, and a spaceport.

 

Overall it will amount to a clear statement of the case for accepting that Manston can be a sustainable, viable aviation services hub, bringing employment and innovation to Thanet for many years, and making full use of a valuable existing asset.

 

The meeting has been organised by Thanet Liberal Democrats – but is in no way a political platform and there will not be any political speeches.  All those who support Manston as an Aviation Hub are welcome.

 

MAN UP Manston Meeting Saturday 4th February 2017

January 2nd 2017

 
Dear Manston Airport Supporter Colleagues
 
Please circulate to anyone who needs to know
 
MAN UP Meeting, Sat 4th Feb Update Status:
 
1.       Please see final amended press release attached – only use this version for wider circulation. Grateful if you could circulate and advertise on your websites, etc.
2.       As of tonight, we have 88 people booked to attend
3.       On the day we will need support with the following roles:
1. Access ticket checking, microphone stewards, donation receivers (with buckets) – volunteers welcome
4.       I hope that all groups involved will have a desk/area/stand where they can answer questions/provide information on a 1:1 basis with those attending – please confirm
5.       Has anyone any other ideas for fundraising? Raffle etc – volunteers welcome
6.       We should send all those who attend away with a clear set of ‘Things to do’, i.e. write a letter, etc. – have you got any ideas for what should be on the list?
7.       David Foley of Thanet Chamber of Commerce has agreed to chair the session to promote the business theme
8.       Any thoughts or suggestions to help make the meeting successful?
 
Regards
 
Russ~
 
Russ Timpson CEng BEng(hons) FIFireE AMBCI  
CEO    
Horizonscan Ltd
 

 

Public Enquiry for Change of Use Planning Appeal (24th Jan 2017) – Delayed

 
We have had word from the Case Manager, that the Public Inquiry into the Change of Use of four Manston buildings has been postponed yet again.
 
“I am sorry for the nature of this email but wanted to you all know as soon as possible that the Inquiry, currently scheduled to open on 24th January 2017, has been postponed. Following the change in stance of the Local Authority whereby it has withdrawn its objections to the proposals, RiverOak, with ‘Rule 6’ status, is now the only main party opposing the proposals. Although reluctant to postpone the Inquiry yet again, the Inspector is keen to ensure that the Rule 6 Party, and any other objectors, are not prejudiced, particularly now that the Council has withdrawn all its objections. On this basis he has agreed to a postponement of the Inquiry. The principal parties have been advised to liaise and agree a further date, or dates, for a reconvened Inquiry in February 2017. Once this has been agreed, the LPA will notify everyone again. Please can you let anyone know who intended to attend the Inquiry that it was now been postponed and will not be occurring as planned?
 
Kind regards
 
Fran Littler.

 

“MANSTON AIRPORT HAS A VIABLE FUTURE  – MAN UP!

 

(Source Russ Timpson-Aviation Specialist and former LibDem Candidate for Thanet Sth)

 

Thanet District Council is launching a public consultation on its draft Local Plan, in which the current Manston Airport site is to be turned over to mixed use, particularly housing.  On 4 February we plan to show that the airport does have a viable future as an aviation centre, not just as an airport but by combining various forward-looking and ambitious activities.

 

This technical meeting, supported by the main groups fighting to save the airport, will take place in the Winter Gardens (Queens Hall) Margate, from 10 am till 2 pm on Saturday 4 February 2017.  It will be a platform for relevant subject experts to explain how Manston Aviation Hub could generate a viable business and revenue streams for Manston from cargo handling, aircraft recycling, pilot training and private flying, and a spaceport. 

 

Overall it will amount to a clear statement of the case for accepting that Manston can be a sustainable, viable aviation services hub, bringing employment and innovation to Thanet for many years, and making full use of a valuable existing asset.

 

The meeting has been organised by Thanet Liberal Democrats – all those who support Manston as an Airport regardless of political party affiliation are welcome.
 
Secretary of State Grants Access to Airport – MP's Comments. 
 
North Thanet`s MP, Sir Roger Gale, has welcomed the confirmation, now formally issued by RiverOak (See below) that the Secretary of State has accepted an application, recommended by the Planning Inspectorate, by RiverOak for access to Manston Airport to complete environmental survey work prior to the Company's submission of a Development Consent Order. 
 
Speaking following the announcement (The SoS decision was made known to interested parties yesterday) Sir Roger has said: 
 
It is significant that the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State have accepted the arguments put forward by RiverOak and has rejected the arguments put forward by those currently in control of the site and who have consistently sought to deny access. 
 
The Secretary of State has, through this decision, recognized RiverOak as a player in the future of Manston and has also acknowledged the importance and significance of the campaign to retain Manston as an operational airfield. 
 
The decision was, of course, also taken in the knowledge of the existence of the now widely-discredited Avia Solution report upon which Cllr. Wells and his councilors have sought to hang their volte-face upon the future of Manston. 
 
There is still a great deal of work still to be done before a DCO submission is made and that submission, which will contain not only the Environmental Impact Assessment but a full Business Case, will then have to be the subject of a public inquiry, Inspectors` report and ultimately a decision by the Secretary of State for transport. 
 
Nevertheless, I am comfortable that this administration, as did David Cameron`s, understands the importance of preserving structural assets in the national interest. 
It is time, I think, that those at present in control of the site and of Thanet District Council took that on board. 

 

 
 

RiverOak welcomes permission to access Manston Airport site from the Planning Inspectorate

December 15, 2016

Source: SuMA

On Monday 19 December the Planning Inspectorate confirmed to Bircham Dyson Bell, lawyers for RiverOak, that Section 53 authorisation (permission to access the Manston Airport site), has now been granted.

Whilst a considerable amount of environmental analysis has already been completed, access to the site has always been preferable to provide the necessary level of detail for a Development Consent Order application. RiverOak’s environmental consulting team, led by Amec Foster Wheeler, will now make arrangements to visit the site as soon as possible in order to assess the site for the production of the Environmental Statement that will accompany the application.  As much data as possible will also be used for the Preliminary Environmental Information Report.
 
This report, together with other work already well underway, will be made available during the process of statutory consultation, which will take place as soon as possible in 2017.
 
 
 

Thanet District Council withdraw change of use planning objections

December 15, 2016
Source: SuMA
 
At the TDC Planning Meeting last night, 14th December, the Planning Committee passed a motion to withdraw their objections to the change of use of four buildings on Manston Airport, subject to the imposition of appropriate safeguarding conditions.
 
Following Barrister advice, UKIP and Labour accepted the Officers recommendation in a recorded vote and removed the long standing objection to the change of use.
 
The item on the agenda had been subject to much criticism before the meeting because Barristers had advised that the matter be heard behind closed doors. However, during the meeting Monitoring Officer Tim Howes gave three options.
 
1. To hear the whole item behind closed doors.
2. To allow the public and press to listen to the debate and the vote but exclude them during the Barrister’s advice
3. To hear the whole item in full session.
 
Mr Howes recommended Option 2.
 
Opposition Leader Bob Bayford agreed with the second option, as did Cllr Ash Ashbee.
 
Cllr Gregory and Partington argued that they could not see why any of the discussion should be behind closed doors.
 
Members then voted in favour of Option 2.
 
The Public were then able to hear the Planning Officers recommendation and witness the subsequent recorded vote but they were not allowed to be present to hear the Barrister’s advice.
The motion was subsequently carried.
 
We asked Councillors for their comments.
 
Deputy Leader Lin Fairbrass told us,
“The UKIP committee members voted to follow officer and barrister advice, as to vote in any other way would have been considered an unreasonable decision which would in all likelihood have resulted in reputational and financial damage to the Council. Also the credibility of the planning committee could have been brought into question.
“UKIP councillors remain hopeful that required evidence will still come forward in support of an operational airport with evidence to satisfy a planning inspector.”
 
Another Councillor present at last night’s meeting told us, “We have no choice but to follow the Officers advice.”
 
Another said, “The planning committee voted in favour of mixed use however, this cannot impede aviation, if viable.”
As we understand it, a clause in the motion ensures that if, when, a sound business plan comes in for the airport it will supercede all previous decisions, including those on the four buildings.

The Deputy Leader said, “A CPO or DCO would automatically, if granted, reverse that decision in favour of aviation use.”
The important thing to hold on to is that, although TDC have reversed their decision, the change of use of these buildings will not be permitted to impede on any future aviation use and can be superceded by any investor obtaining the site. Without this clause, SHP could have done all they could to prevent aviation at Manston. This decision will not affect the plans of any prospective investors but it throws the onus back on them to declare their hand and provide a sound business plan without delay."
 
Manston – case study in conflict by Lembit Opik
 
Flying politician Lembit Öpik reviews the on-going dispute over the future of Manston Airport in South East England and outlines the strategic imperative for politicians to protect this vital resource.
 
It is hard to believe that the Government has been so slow at approving the third runway at Heathrow.  Everybody who looks at the situation knows that, with aviation likely to expand at, say, 5% per annum, BOTH Heathrow and Gatwick will need more runway capacity in the foreseeable future.  And still that is unlikely to be enough.  What then?
 
Many years ago I used to fly to Manston Airport a lot.  It took about 80 minutes in my Mooney M20J from Mid-Wales to Kent – and from a technical point of view it was a very interesting flight to make.  The route requires really serious attention to detail, on account of the crowded airspace around London, plus unpredictable weather conditions along England’s east coast.
 
Manston itself was an awesome destination when viewed on final approach, with close to three kilometres of runway.  It’s orientation has everything to do with World War II.  Runway 28 was constructed to ensure that damaged, hard-to-manoeuvre bombers returning from sorties over enemy territory could land with a ‘straight-in approach,’ having plenty of space to find a way to land.
 
To be honest, my first landing at Manston did not take account of the breath-taking length of the runway: I had to sort of ‘take off’ again to speed along the centreline and expedite my exit.  I’ve never doubted the aerodrome’s 2,748 metres when it comes to accommodating aircraft of any size.
 
That was some years ago.  Sadly, at present only crows land at Manston.  Regular operations are currently suspended, and the 800 acres of its territory lie eerily silent.  Yet there is a strenuous campaign to rekindle major commercial operations involving both freight and passenger movements.  There is also another campaign -by forces wanting to redeploy the land for housing, or other non-aviation use.
 
Why would such an important infrastructure resource be facing obliteration?  The public discussion has centred on whether building development is a better use for the land than flying.  A severe housing shortage exists in the South East.  New developments are sold out within hours of coming on the market.  Prices reflect this, and to put it right would require the construction of tens of thousands of new homes.
 
A nice, flat, well-drained airfield is highly attractive to developers.  It’s much easier to construct buildings on a site which has already been tamed by decades of careful land management.  Conversely, something as economically exotic as an airport carries with it all kinds of complexities and uncertainties, in a way that bricks and mortar don’t.  With an airport people may come and fly: with a housing estate people WILL come and buy.
 
So, it’s time to face a home truth at the very heart of this debate; not just for Manston, but for the UK’s entire aviation infrastructure.   An airport cannot be judged simply on the basis of what makes the most money in the least amount of time.  If this were the only consideration, economics would lead to a change of use of just about every airport in the land.
 
Think of the revenues if you turned, say, 3,000 acres of attractively situated land in an urban locality into residential accommodation.  At an average of 23 homes per acre, and assuming a typical home value for the area in question, this could generate house sale revenues of around £33 billion.  I am , of course, referring to Heathrow Airport.  Turning Heathrow into a housing estate would deliver around 12 times more revenue than the airport’s current annual turnover.  With the construction of flats, those figures could be tripled – a circumstance in which the Council tax revenue alone matches the annual profit of the Airport.
 
Every other UK airport which I’ve looked at is even more vulnerable.  Newcastle Airport, with an annual revenue of around £60 million, is worth 110 times its annual revenue in housing.  That’s right, one hundred and ten times its current annual revenue if it were developed at an average housing density.
 
If making profit quickly is the key aim, I believe every airport in the UK is more attractive as a property development than as an aerodrome.  Hardly surprising, then, that Manston, with its surface area of 800 acres, has developers straining at the leash to start building on it.  And let’s be fair: the developers have no moral or financial responsibility to consider the macroeconomic or social implications to the region or the country of converting internationally significant travel hubs into lucrative property initiatives.   And why should they?  It’s not their job. 
 
So, the inference is remarkably simple.  
 
No mainstream politician or businessperson doubts the central role of aviation in connecting large, modern nations with the rest of the world economically, culturally and socially.  You only have to look at national planning around the EU and beyond to see that.  Thus, in order to keep up in the shrinking global economy, especially in a post-Brexit environment, we’ve got to protect our aeronautical assets against the obvious attractions of a change of use.
 
Government must step up to its responsibilities here.  If it cares about our position on the world stage, then politicians cannot sit back and merely ‘let the market decide’ – because the market will only decide one thing, and it’s not going to be flying.  Ministers – and those in the Department for Transport in particular – have a moral responsibility to protect key assets of strategic importance to the long-term health of the economic and social evolution of the country.  Manston is one of them.
 
Let’s test the figures.  We can turn to proposals put forward by one group, Riveroak, which wants to re-open Manston for commercial aviation.  They plan 500,000 tonnes of cargo and 2 million passengers within two years.  Both these targets are many times higher than the previous best performance of the airport.  What’s realistic?
 
The population of Kent is around 1.6 million – a little less than Northern Ireland.  Yet between them, the two busiest airports there – Belfast International and Belfast Harbour – handle around 7 million passenger movements a year.  At the same time, the City of Derry’s airport, at which only one carrier, Ryanair, operates scheduled services, handles 280,000 passengers – even though Derry’s population amounts to just 90,000.  This is one example of many to prove that when you build airport facilities, the public will come.  Manston doesn’t even have to be built – it’s already there.  And it only has to achieve one quarter of the performance of Northern Ireland to make the Riveroak figures credible.
 
Even a more modest performance justifies retaining the facility.  If 700,000 passengers passed through Manston, this would place it in roughly the middle of the league table of the top 40 UK airports.  And to achieve that, it would only need one Airbus A320 to take off and land every two hours between 7am and 9pm.  That’s around half the number of movements of Norwich Airport, and one sixth of the flights going in and out of Leeds/Bradford.  It will still be operating at a significant level of activity, with potential to massively expand as the inevitable increase in air travel continues.
 
It’s worth noting that other factors drive Manston’s increasing viability in the longer term.  With a credible and fairly simple plan to connect the airport with Central London by rail in a little over an hour, Manston is attractive to part of the Capital’s catchment too – especially on the east side.  With two additional Thames crossings scheduled for construction – one centrally near Greenwich and the other to the East – there is even more reason to believe Manston will attract passengers, just as Stanstead and Luton do to the north.
 
These factors are not being properly taken into account.   Without a holistic approach, Britain’s entire airport infrastructure is vulnerable to death by property development – a factor which has already claimed or threatened other smaller airports such as Teeside, Kemble and Leicester.  Filton in Bristol, where exactly the same development has killed a fine facility, thanks to the perfect storm of a voracious appetite for fast returns in the property sector and a serious housing shortage facing town planners.  Little wonder, then, that such peril faces Manston.
Government has to learn from the fastest growing economies in the world.  China is currently expanding 60 airports, and opening 40 new ones between now and 2020 – that’s 10 new airports a year.  They would consider it unthinkable to close an existing facility.  To an extent they’re playing ‘catch up.’  But China has global ambitions, as do many other developing countries.  Their investment will necessarily increase flights to the West.  If we haven’t got space for them to land, they’ll leave their vapour trails above Britain and land on to the European continent.  Whether in French, German or English, business is business.
 
Others seem to have grasped the need for international connectivity.  Across Europe, there are over 230 airport developments, many of them straightforward expansions of existing facilities.  I was unable to find any example of a country on the continent which is closing down any large airport facility.  Indeed, in a European Commission report entitled ‘An aviation strategy for Europe,’ the entire focus is about ensuring an adequate infrastructure to manage growth.  The narrative is about increasing airport capacity, not reducing it.
 
Tensions have been running high over Manston.  MPs and local Councillors have promised to get the airport reopened.  UKIP made it a key election pledge in recent local authority elections.  In October 2016, senior Conservative Member of Parliament of 33 years’ standing, Sir Roger Gale, said he would retire from Parliament if the airport were not restored to operational status.  The site has powerful allies, but the motivations on the other side can be measured in terms of a monumental financial opportunity plus that local housing shortage.
 
We live in an era when the free market is respected, and almost worshiped.  Yet there has to be a time when Government intervenes to protect essential public resources that would otherwise be lost.  However tempting it may be to build on flat, large and well-situated land, the reality is that there are other places the houses can go – for example, small additional developments in many locations which add manageable numbers of new residents – and turnover – to lots of village and town economies without creating a concentrated population spike – and traffic problems in one place.  With a modicum of creative thinking, it’s a problem which can be solved without losing Manston.
 
With the airport, Kent and the South East of England can be international and global players.   Without it, a vital component in the relationship between the South East, Britain and developing markets is.  That’s why it’s time for politicians to step in and to facilitate a plan to make Manston the natural hub for new routes to and from developing markets.  It is easy to add convenient passenger routes to connect the South East with feeder routes to regional airports – which removes some of the pressure from Heathrow and Gatwick, and creates many new business opportunities at the same time.
 
We should also include this obvious and attractive role for Manston as part of the UK’s intentional trade offering.  When you look at it like that, it’s little short of scandalous that a private consortium is being left to defend and promote such a significant element in the country’s long-term infrastructure.  After all, if China had an international airport less than an hour from the outskirts of its capital, they’d be hard at work investing in the future, guaranteeing it remained open for business.
The effects or abandoning this ready-made international airport would only become fully evident in the longer term.  But failing to ensure Manston reopens for passenger and freight operations would represent an act of strategic self-harm for the county, suggesting Government really doesn’t grasp the central contribution of aviation to the UK’s status on the international stage."

 

20th November 2016

City financier Edi Truell hits back at 'speculator' jibes...

 

Edi Truell has given us his permission to publish the email he sent earlier on 15th November 2016 to selected parties concerning Manston Airport that seems to have caused quite a stir. He has also given us a statement in response to some of the references to him made public yesterday.
 
We have been in touch with Edi for more than a year after he contacted us in regard to the potential of acquiring Manston. After some background investigation to understand who he was, we entered into discussions with him and facilitated connections with relevant parties. During that stage, we certainly became aware of the same frustrations Edi details below, even by those who had the means to establish Edi's background and the finances at his disposal. Parties that have entered proper discussions with Edi have all confirmed back to us our initial understanding that his plans have always been for aviation at Manston. Obviously we have sought to keep information confidential in spite of everything, to prevent damage being caused to the campaign by losing a potential investor. It is clear that he has been interested in Manston for some time, but has chosen to remain in the background.
 
Email sent by Edi Truell to selected parties: Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Supporters of Manston Airport; representatives of Stone Hill Park; representative of RiverOak; Leader of Thanet District Council; Chief Executive of Thanet and East Kent Chamber and a Partner with Disruptive Capital, on 15th November 2016:
 
Dear All
 
I have rarely been involved in a more frustrating process. For the better part of a year now I have been reaching out to everybody to try to get a coherent business plan for a restoration or airport operations. There has inevitably been delays, such as the change of Mayor, the much delayed publication of the Davies report and decision to go with Heathrow.
 
I and my infrastructure investment team believe that there is a real case for the restoration of airport operations at Manston. This is predicated on the assurances we have had from Kent County Council and Thanet that a fast rail link can be established as well as encouragement from the owners that they would at least consider an airport rather than a mass housing project.
 
Recently, I have had significant interest from far eastern airlines in operating into Manston for long haul flights coming in to the UK in the early morning.
 
I would like it put on the record that we are very interested in investing in the new facilities acquired to create a proper long haul destination. We will also ensure that we acquire the interest of the current owners at a fair price and have indeed made several proposals to them.
 
Our team have invested in 14 airports around the world. Indeed are under exclusivity to acquire another airport in Australia. Whilst we have been waiting for Miss Gloags team to put forward a coherent plan to us, we have reached the point that we are prepared to take the operation development into our own hands and wait no longer on other people to do the work.
 
If this is of interest we look forward to receiving a financial proposal from the owners that we can then consider and expedite.
 
Edi
 
This is Edi Truell's response to comments made about him:
 
As for being a 'speculator' I am better known as a long term pension investor. I co founded the Pension Insurance Corporation - which has insured £20billion of pensions. I was then appointed as Chairman of the London Pension Fund Authority. I orchestrated the investment of that fund; and then was the architect of the the 'pooling' of the Local Government pension funds with c£190 billion of assets.
 
In my role as Adviser on Pensions and Investments and as Chairman of the Strategic Investment Advisory Board, I was asked to investigate the acquisition of Manston Airport and the co ordination of investment to develop the airfield into a commercial venture. This I have patiently attempted in a non partisan manner, until it became clear that the present owners are determined to turn it into a housing estate and have no intention of reopening it as an airport.
 
Within our group, we have fostered the Annuity Infrastructure Club. The team there have made some $68 billion of infrastructure investments, including 14 airports across the world.
 
I am a member of the Co Operation Forum of Sovereign Wealth and Pension Funds; and of the G20 Long Term Investment Council. I have addressed both of these august gatherings on infrastructure investment.
 
Not exactly 'speculation'."

 

 

18th November 2016

Planning Inspectorate Notices of Local Inquiry

  

18th November 2016

"Council consistently ignoring RiverOak communication”

 

Thanet Council consistently ignoring RiverOak communication
Nov 18, 2016 | Media statement from RiverOak Investments
 
RiverOak has made numerous attempts to contact Thanet Council officers on at least four separate topics relating to RiverOak’s plans for Manston Airport and proposed DCO application. All of which have, to date, gone unanswered.
 
Importantly, they include an offer made on behalf of RiverOak, in June 2016, to provide a briefing on the proposed airport masterplan to TDC council members – a request which to date has been neither accepted nor rejected by Thanet Council officers.
 
Various emails sent to the council, by RiverOak planning consultants, relating to the Lothian Shelf planning appeal have also gone unanswered – as has a request for a response to an earlier enquiry about the deadline for comments on the Stone Hill Park planning application and other matters relating to those proposals.
 
In October 2016 consultants also attempted to contact, on numerous occasions, two separate council officers to try and understand the council’s process and timetable for formally considering the Avia Report and the subsequent local plan process. These emails were met with silence too.
 
George Yerrall of RiverOak said: “RiverOak has been criticised on many occasions for apparently failing to properly engage with Thanet Council. This could not be further from the truth as our planning consultants have tried and failed to secure even the most basic information from council officers to enable us to participate in the democratic process. It is hard not to get the impression that we’re being deliberately ignored which, if this proved to be the case, would be quite a serious dereliction of duty and due process by Thanet Council.”

 

 

13th November 2016

"Proposed New Local Plan suggests up to 3,000 homes on Manston

 

The proposed new Local Plan document has been posted on the Council website for presentation before an emergency Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting on Monday 21st November.
 
It is highly regrettable that, in the revised plan, Manston Airport is now clearly designated for housing and employment development. Previously it was designated as an “Opportunity Area” for the purposes of preparing the Manston Airport Area Action Plan.
 
Following Thanet District Council’s recently commissioned Avia Report on the viability of the airport they are saying that they will have to adhere to it’s recommendations namely that “airport operations at Manston are very unlikely to be financially viable in the longer term and almost certainly not possible in the period to 2031”.
 
The new proposals state that the airport will be used for “up to 3,000 dwellings (together with a range of other uses including business space; local retail provision; primary schools, etc)”
 
They have also identified land at Manston Airport for employment use, “The Airport site, as part of a sustainable mixed-use development, could potentially accommodate up to 75,000sqm of new, business floorspace.“
 
The new proposals will go out to public consultation in mid-January 2017 for six weeks. This will be followed by the publication of a Submission version (full Local Plan) in Summer 2017 and will be presented to the Planning Inspectorate/Examination at the end of 2017.
 
The recommendation is for the Overview and Sc