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EasyJet and Ryanair in talks to resume passenger flights from Manston Airport
Published: 15:18, 22 August 2022 | Updated: 15:32, 22 August 2022
Passenger flights could return to Manston Airport quicker than expected – with Ryanair and EasyJet among airlines holding talks to get services up and running.
The Department of Transport finally granted a Development Consent Order on Thursday – paving the way for it to operate again for the first time since it shut in 2014.
It will primarily handle cargo flights but Tony Freudmann, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) which owns the airfield, says talks are already under way with a number of airlines.
It is understood KLM – which operated the last passenger flights at the airport to Amsterdam’s international hub airport at Schiphol – is keen to return. Talks have also taken place with the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet.
Mr Freudmann explained: “Looking at the way the passenger market is going, we are confident we can persuade one or more low-cost carriers to base their planes here.
“It does not work for us if they fly in just once a day because that is not economic. If they base three or four planes at Manston, we will have rotations three or four times a day, as they have at Southend. That will cover our costs and bring passenger footfall through the terminal all day and every day. We will reinstate the twice daily KLM service to Amsterdam Schiphol that we had before and that will give business people in particular access to almost anywhere in the world.”
However, no such flights would be operational until the freight operation was already up and running. He added: “You can’t have unconditional discussions when you haven’t got a DCO. What we do know is that [airlines] are very interested; they run feeder services from other regional airports. “If you take operators like Ryanair and EasyJet, their problem is that at Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, there are no more slots between 6am and 7am. If you can’t take off before 7am, it compromises the efficiency of the day; so they base their planes at Southend; the same will be at Manston.
“It works very well for them because they capture the global market, particularly for business people who do not like Heathrow. We are confident it will work again.
“We have been in limbo. Now that is over we can resume these conversations, as well as those we have been having with cargo operators.”
RSP, which says it plans to invest up to £500million into the airport, says surveys, planning and design work will now begin, with construction later next year. The first cargo services are expected to take-off in early 2025.
Asked if the Manston plan could ease some of the problems on Kent’s road network, particularly during periods of delay and destruction, he said: “We think so but you have to remember that freight cargo is smaller in volume and size than shipping freight.”
He said he was confident that after a series of setbacks, the plans for Manston had now cleared the necessary hurdles.
Responding to concerns there would be night flights, he said a curfew would be in place from 11pm to 6am.
“The only exception to that would be late arriving passenger flights coming in from Southern Europe,” he said. “Otherwise there will be no night flights – period.”
At last! Development Consent Granted!
Isle of Thanet news 09.07.20
The decision on a development consent order for the Manston airport site has been announced today (July 9) – a day earlier than expected.
The Department of Transport has approved the application to create an air freight hub at the site despite the Examining Authority panel of Martin Broderick, Jonathan Hockley, Kelvin MacDonald and Jonathan Manning recommending to the Secretary of State that development consent should not be granted.
Supporters of the plan say it will create employment, increase infrastructure investment and boost the economy but those opposed to the DCO say there are issues with including noise, night flights and the impact on tourism.
The application was accepted for examination in August 2018 and it was completed on 9 July 2019. The examination was conducted on the basis of written and oral submissions submitted to the ExA and by eight issue-specific hearings, two compulsory acquisition hearings and four open floor hearings held in Margate and Sandwich. The ExA also conducted one unaccompanied site inspection in January 2019 and one accompanied site inspection in March 2019.
RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), who applied for the DCO, they are delighted permission has been granted for an international air freight hub and passenger airfield.
They say the government’s decision to grant RSP’s application for a Development Consent Order will create over 23,000 jobs across East Kent and the wider national economy by the airport’s 20th year of operation. Construction will begin in 2021 with the airport operating its first cargo services in the first quarter of 2023.
RSP say COVID-19 virus has demonstrated the fragility and inflexibility of the UK’s air cargo network, which relies almost exclusively on passenger aircraft to carry freight, as well as the urgent need to keep air freight going. It is widely accepted that demand for passenger air travel will take a number of years to return to pre-pandemic levels, if it ever does, and so building the UK’s specialist freight capacity has become even more vital.
RSP has committed to an investment of £300 million to rebuild Manston as a global freight hub, which will enable the airport to fulfil its role in helping the UK trade across the globe and to import vital and time-sensitive goods, including fresh fruit and medical supplies.
Tony Freudmann, director of RSP said: “Once built, Manston will be one of the most modern, efficient and environmentally friendly freight hubs in the world, able to cater for traditional freight as well as the rapidly expanding international e-commerce sector that the UK has so heavily relied upon during the period of lock down.
“It is not lost on RSP how much support we have received from the Thanet and East Kent community and, in particular, from our two dedicated local MPs, Sir Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay, since the start of the DCO process.
“We are also grateful for the long term view taken by our investment partners. Even before the DCO was granted, they demonstrated their commitment to the local area. The recent £100,000 donation to Age UK Thanet to support its work with isolated older people has been crucial during this difficult time. We have also been involved with a project to bring thousands of trees to six sites in Thanet, part of a longer term commitment to investing in the communities and the environment around the airport.
“Alongside the work needed to return Manston to operational status, we will now be accelerating both our local procurement programme and the work of the Manston Skills and Employment Board, in partnership with a wide range of business, education, training and local authority organisations, to ensure local people have the skills and experienced needed to benefit from a wide variety of airport jobs.
“After two years of detailed scrutiny of our plans by the Planning Inspectorate and Department for Transport, it is wonderful to have Government support. We can now focus on investing in Thanet and East Kent, creating jobs, and inspiring new generations through our active support for training, education and careers advice for all age groups.”
North Thanet MP, Sir Roger Gale added: “I am delighted that the Government has given the go-ahead to the redevelopment and reopening of Manston Airport. This national asset has been closed for far too long but it can now play a critical role in delivering jobs and investment to Thanet, and the wider Kent and UK economy. Manston has been an airport for more than a hundred years and this decision unlocks many millions of pounds of investment.
“I would like to thank RSP, their investors and my constituents who have campaigned tirelessly since the Airport was closed in 2014 to get it re-opened and who have demonstrated courage and tenacity in their determination to realise Manston`s `front line potential` once again.
“Post-Brexit Britain is going to need additional air freight capacity and Manston can offer this swiftly.”
Manston Airport plans could trigger game-changing trade route through River Thames
Ambitious plans to connect a proposed airport development with a new trade route to the capital could see the light of day.
According to Tony Freudmann, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, which owns the former Manston Airport site, reopening it for inbound cargo could kick start an innovative method of transporting goods to London.
Tony Freudmann believes the airport would significantly boost the local economy
Planes carrying cargo inbound for the airport could be trucked down to the Ramsgate port, shipped along the coast and up through the River Thames.
Mr Freudmann said: “At the moment the Thames is used for taking construction materials up into London for building and taking waste out.
“There are 16 wharfs in London that are available for commercial use right up to Hammersmith and beyond.
“They have said they would be very interested in working with us for inbound cargo.”
He added: “They’ve been experimenting with electrically operated vessels; I’m told that some now operate on the Danube and on the Rhine and in parts of Scandinavia.”
A spokesman from the Port of London Authority said: “In recent weeks the Port of London Authority has had some outline discussions on possible future ways the River Thames might be used to move certain types of freight and packages that have first arrived at Manston by air.
“The discussions are at a very preliminary stage – researching and scoping out the type of cargo that might be moved into London from Thanet in this way.
“But the PLA always welcomes constructive approaches to make more use of the Thames for waterborne freight – not least as part of other successful initiatives to get lorries and vans off the busy roads and motorways of London and the south east”.
Mr Freudmann said: “It would all be totally carbon neutral; the potential is huge and it could potentially bring the port of Ramsgate back to life.”
If the plans went ahead, RSP believes it could ease the flow of trucks transporting goods on the county’s roads such as the M20 and M2.
The terminal building would be scrapped and rebuilt
The redevelopment of Manston has not been without its fair share of controversy, with some wondering if plans can succeed after the huge financial losses which forced the airport to close in 2014.
But Mr Freudmann said the key to success, something its previous owners failed to understand, is significantly growing the infrastructure of the airport to make it commercially viable.
Before the airport closed there was only enough space to house two large aircraft at a time, limiting the number of planes that were able to arrive and depart.
Under the new development proposals, the number of aircraft stands could total 23 by the end of Phase 4, which as of now would not be completed until 2036 at the earliest.
Part of the proposed development would see most of the site scrapped and re-tarmacked.
Speaking on the KM Community Podcast, he said: “Right now it’s like having a nice hotel where you’ve got 50 bedrooms, but only three bedrooms can be used. It just doesn’t work.”
The redevelopment of the site would also need to include re-tarmacking large sections which are no longer compliant for landing aircraft due to their incompatible gradients.
An extensive plan to increase the number of hangar bays would also mean more cargo planes can arrive and depart simultaneously, increasing the revenue the airport would make.
The initial redevelopment costs are estimated to hit upwards of £300 million.
As well as a prominent cargo hub, RSP hopes to return Manston to a passenger airport by enticing low cost airliners like Ryanair.
A new air traffic control tower could be added as part of the scheme.
The passenger service would bring back trips to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, as well as other popular destinations.
Mr Freudmann said: “It equates to about a million or a million-and-a-half passengers, which is a nice business for us.
“It provides a much-needed facility for people living in east Kent who otherwise have to travel to Gatwick or Stansted or further afield, and we think we can make that work.”
Once up and running the airport could be dealing with 4-5 aircraft taking off an hour, with an 11pm curfew excluding late departures.
The decision on whether to give the go ahead to RSP’s development plans now sits with central government, which has extended the deadline until May.
The cafe in the passenger terminal used to be a busy spot for greeting new arrivals
This comes as a Kent MP urged government to give the green light to the Manston development, after a court decision scrapped plans for a third runway to be built at Heathrow Airport.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said: “Post-Brexit Britain is going to need additional air freight and passenger capacity of the kind that Manston can offer swiftly.
“The UK is losing business to Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Dubai and that cannot be allowed to continue if we are to prosper as a trading nation after December 31.”
Taken from Isle of Thanet News online:
Kent County Council Cabinet approves £17.8million Thanet Parkway station spend
Kent County Council’s Cabinet has today (January 27) agreed to contribute up to £17.8 million for the proposed Thanet Parkway station – but one county councillor has branded it a ‘face saving’ exercise.
The decision comes following the results of a public survey in the station’s catchment area of Thanet and north Dover.
Kent County Council says the result shows 45% of those surveyed support the new station being built, with 12% neither for nor against. The main reason given in favour was that it would encourage employers to locate in East Kent.
The station is due to be built off the Hengist Way, on the existing Ashford to Ramsgate rail line near the Sevenscore roundabout.
However, councillors have previously raised questions over why Thanet needs an eighth railway station, passenger safety at an unmanned station and the danger of more building on agricultural land due to the expectation of the station creating demand for 4,500 new homes.
Independent councillor Paul Messenger has branded the decision a ‘face saving’ exercise aimed at ensuring the funding from SELEP.
He added: “This appears to also be predetermination of the case as it is yet to gain planning approval.”
Earlier this month fellow county councillor Barry Lewis slammed the latest consultation as not taking in views from a wide enough area. A sample 300 residents were contacted for views. He has called the station plan ‘a white elephant’ saying he was concerned for passenger safety at an unmanned station, highlighting the rising cost and questioning the need for an eighth station on the isle.
The KCC funding will be part of a £34.51million package for the scheme with £14 million of Local Growth Fund also allocated by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), £2m from Thanet District Council with a grant agreement currently being drafted and £700,000 from East Kent Spatial Development Company.
The original estimated cost of the Parkway project was £11.2 million but that sum has now tripled.
The costs comprise of:
£19.99m for the station and car park (at 80% probability and inclusive of 11% contingency);
£10.20m for the level crossing upgrades (at 10% probability and inclusive of 57% contingency – this level of contingency is standard industry practice with work at GRIP1 stage);
£4.14m for other costs including the highway junction works, archaeological mitigation works, land purchase, planning costs, legal costs and fees.
Public consultations on the scheme have previously been held in 2015 and 2017; a statutory consultation on the planning application in 2018, and another when the planning application was resubmitted in November 2019.
KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said: “One of the reasons this scheme has been in the pipeline for so long is because of the amount of significant consultation that Kent County Council has done, allowing the considered decision to be made today.
“This is a project that is all about creating the infrastructure first, to provide support for economic development in the area and support the delivery of Thanet’s draft Local Plan.
“Accessibility in East Kent is a critical barrier that has limited the potential of the area to attract investment and regeneration, even more so since the loss of ferry operations from Ramsgate and the closure of Manston airport.
“Improving connectivity is a vital step in attracting investment and job opportunities and I believe the Thanet Parkway project will help those aspirations.
“The proposed station will address these issues by capitalising on High Speed 1 services, bringing Thanet to around one hour’s journey time of London, improving the perception of East Kent as a place for investment.”
KCC says the scheme has the support of local businesses including Pfizer and Discovery Park alongside Visit Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and Locate in Kent.
Changes have been made to the design including removing the proposed footbridge over the railway line and utilising the existing Petley’s Arch underpass instead.
Access into the station from Hengist Way will also now be a left-in, left-out arrangement allowing free-flow of traffic eastbound between the Sevenscore roundabout and the Lord of the Manor roundabout without the need to stop at traffic lights.
It will be a two platform station with the entrance on the north side. There will be a 300 space car park, platforms accessible by stairs, lift and pedestrian bridge.
Waiting shelters, CCTV and passenger information points will be provided on each platform along with ticket machines and a help point to provide remote assistance by intercom.
There will be a car park for 299 cars, plus an additional 20 bays for pick-up/drop-off and taxi parking. The car park includes 16 disabled bays and 19 spaces for electric vehicles. Cycle parking and two bus stops will also be provided.
The business case for the scheme will now be discussed at the SELEP Accountability Board on February 14 before any Local Growth Fund is released.
Taken from Isle of Thanet News online:
Yet more comments and details requested for Manston air freight DCO application
Manston airport site Photo Frank Leppard
Submission of yet another round of comments and further information has been requested by the Secretary of State for Transport – Grant Schapps – before a decision over the development consent order to create an air cargo hub at the Manston airport site will be made.
The decision had been due on January 18 but a written statement to Parliament made by Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, yesterday (January 16) said the latest delay means the outcome is now due to be announced on May 18.
The four month delay was due to “enable further information on a range of issues to be provided by the applicant and other interested parties before determination by the Secretary of State,” according to the Under Secretary statement.
Last year the Planning Inspectorate examining panel, led by Kelvin McDonald, examined the bid made by Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP) to acquire the site and create a cargo hub and associated aviation business.
The land was owned by Stone Hill Park, which had submitted a planning application to create up to 3,700 homes, business and leisure and associated infrastructure. SHP sold the site to RSP subsidiary RiverOak MSE Ltd for £16.5 million in July, just before the hearings concluded.
Now more submissions on the project which has split isle opinion have been requested by Mr Schapps.
In the latest documentation on the Planning Inspectorate website a series of areas where more details are needed is outlined.
These include queries over unilateral undertakings with Kent County Council and Thanet council relating to the “appropriateness of RiverOak Fuels being the named party in those Undertakings,” and whether RSP’s contribution for the Air Quality Station ZH3 will ensure the Thanet Air Quality Management Area is not negatively impacted by the development.
Further areas include whether a 20 year contribution from RSP of £139,000 per year for schools affected by aircraft noise is adequate.
There are also queries raised about transport, including over controlled parking income and right of way improvements and the inclusion of a bus service enhancements scheme.
Confirmation of agreement to compulsory purchase a number of plots of land belonging to the Crown and companies including South Eastern Power Networks is also sought.
Comments are also invited on the revised wording of the draft DCO, including amendments to night flight restrictions and the need to provide an alternate High Resolution Direction Finder site.
An updated air quality assessment is requested as well as clarification on the assessment of the carbon emissions contribution from Manston Airport in relation to climate change.
Comments on late representations, including from objectors Five10Twelve Limited about inconsistencies in the application, are also requested.
Yesterday RSP said it “stands ready to respond” to requests for additional information.
The deadline for responses in January 31.
DCO approval is needed for the cargo hub project. Supporters of the plan say it will bring jobs and economic benefits. Campaigners against the proposals say it will result in pollution, noise and a loss of tourist trade in Ramsgate which is under the flight path.
Manston: Surveys, flight paths, night flights, noise, museums, jobs and the Northern Grass
Surveys for construction work at the Manston airport site begin this month with the aim of reaching final costings for building work and infrastructure improvements, say new owners RiverOak Strategic Partners.
Environmental studies will also take place, specifically looking at nesting and whether species such as bats may need relocating.
The work is to take place following the £16.5 million purchase of the site by RSP, who aim to create a cargo hub, aviation businesses and short haul passenger flights, from former landowners Stone Hill Park.
The deal was reached as a Development Consent Order application, made by RSP, reached the end of a fraught six month examination by the Planning Inspectorate.
The application was hotly contested by SHP, which had its own proposal for housing, business and infrastructure on the site. Opposition has also come from groups including No Night Flights which says night flights, noise and pollution will all impact on tourism and residents under the flight path.
Manston airport site Photo Paul Wells
But as the examination closed SHP and RSP clinched the sale, with SHP agreeing to withdraw its DCO and Local Plan submissions. Caveats on the sale will not be known until the Land Registry entry is published. SHP retains its contract, and payments, with the Department for Transport for use of the Manston site as a ‘Brexit’ lorry park and would be responsible for providing equipment if the site is used for the parking up of HGVs.
RSP director Tony Freudmann said tenders for the construction will take place next year, if the DCO is agreed, with work expected during 2021 and the start of 2022 leading up to the opening.
A consultation in Ramsgate and Herne Bay on changes to flight paths is also due to take place next year.
The buy out of the land means the compulsory purchase part of the DCO application for SHP’s holding – equating to around 98% of the site – is no longer necessary. However, there are still parcels of land belonging to the Ministry of Defence and other organisations and individuals. The site also borders the proposed Manston Green development. Issues have been raised over the siting of the MoD’s High Resolution Direction Finder aerials and whether a planned move may encroach on the Manston Green site.
Mr Freudmann says talks are ongoing about the ‘alternative site.’
Campaign group No Night Flights says members will take a break until the Secretary of State makes a decision but insist “the fight is not over.”
Concerns include night flights. Mr Freudmann said: “ There will be no flights between 11pm and 6am other than emergency, relief and late arrivals. There will be no departures.
“If you have a Ryan Air flight in New York running two hours late, with staff who are living here and passengers, then you have to let it come to Manston. People need to get home and the plane needs to be here to be outbound for the morning. There’s no secret plan to bring planes in at night but if a plane is delayed you can’t tell them to divert, that’s just not acceptable. Look at Southend airport and you can see that it does not happen often but it does happen.”
But Anne Marie Nixey, from No Night Flights and Ramsgate Town Council, said: “There will be night flights, RSP want flights from 6am, legally that’s night flights. Even the examining authority said there was not a night flight ban.
“Late arrivals are not in the ATM (air traffic movement) allocation or the night quota so they come under the radar. Infratil (previous airport operators) had 15%-20% of planes as late arrivals every night.”
Compensation for residents affected by noise has also been under the spotlight. RSP is offering up to £10,000 for noise insulation for those that fall in the 63 decibel contour, affecting around 275 homes.
MAFNIC noise calculations
Cllr Nixey and the NNF campaign say this level is not adequate and compensation should be paid for homes in the 57db contour, as is the case for London City Airport and Heathrow. Contour maps paid for by NNF show this would take in some 6,500 properties.
Mr Freudmann says the level is based on government guidance but Cllr Nixey says it is “playing with figures.”
She added: “We need to demystify this idea that it is houses vs airport. It’s not, it is people’s lives that are going to be ruined.
“RSP own the site and people assume they are getting an airport back but it does not yet have the planning permission and is yet to resolve issues with the MoD, Kent County Council and Cogent (Manston Green developers).”
Mr Freudmann says RSP is reasonably confident, but not complacent, that the DCO will be granted. He said no plans have as yet been made for if the bid fails.
He added: “We have already invested more than £34million. The airport will be £300-400 million to develop. We have made a huge investment in this and have a number of potential investors who will be funding us long term.
“Easy Jet and Ryan Air have said to us they know where Manston is and if we can give early morning flights that is of great interest to them.
“The core business will be cargo but there could be passenger flights. That means inbound passengers to east Kent.”
Ryan Air has since announced some 900 job cuts.
Museums and Northern Grass
Mr Freudmann said fears over the future of the two Manston museums would be allayed by the gifting of freeholds on larger sites by the Northern Grass
Questions have been raised over the future of the Northern Grass and whether it is earmarked for residential development.
Mr Freudmann said the site will be used for airport related development such as warehousing and offices, border control and catering.
Job figures have also come under scrutiny. RSP say the air field will create 9,568 local jobs by year 20 of operation – 3,417 direct jobs and 6,151 indirect and ‘induced’ jobs.
No Night Flights say this is “extremely unlikely” adding “as it’s a state of the art 24/7 cargo hub they are planning then most of their operations will undoubtedly be automated.”
The 90 minute commute definition has been highly criticised as being far from local and not providing Thanet jobs.
Mr Freudmann said: “90 minutes is the statutory definition. We are looking at local employment in east Kent.”
A decision on the DCO is expected to be made by January 9,2020. If given the green light RSP say they expect the airport to be operational in Spring 2022 with short haul and cargo flights.
Manston DCO: Questions raised over museums, noise compensation, funders and contamination
The Planning Inspectorate examination of the bid being made by firm RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) to acquire the Manston airport site and create a cargo hub and associated aviation business is due to come to a close on July 9.
The process, which opened in January, has examined a number of contentious issues surrounding the application, including night flights, noise and noise compensation, land values, funding and funders and the question of whether the project is needed.
Six months of wrangling has seen submissions from RSP presented to back its case that a development consent order should be granted to allow the compulsory purchase of the site.
The bulk of the land in question is owned by Stone Hill Park which has also presented its case as to why the DCO should be refused.
Representations have also been made by a wide variety of organisations, including Thanet council and Historic England, campaign groups including Save Manston Airport association, Supporters of Manston Airport, No Night Flights and Nethercourt Action Group, numerous individuals and both Manston museums.
The Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum has raised concerns at the paucity of discussion about the two venues and the future of their freehold.
In a submission from museum manager Matt Demedts it says there has been no confirmation or indication of RSP’s plans with regards to the museum’s current and future status as a freehold and wider plans for the museums area in general.
Mr Demedts said oral offers of the freehold being “re-granted” had been made but a request was made that the examining panel the examining authority would ask for clarity on what exactly was intended for the museums.
In the fourth round of Examining Authority questions, published on the Planning Inspectorate site, the issue of whether compulsory acquisition of the museum sites is justified as neither venue is required to move has been raised.
In response RSP say: “While the Applicant currently believes that outright compulsory acquisition is necessary for all the land subject to that power in its application, it may find later once detailed design has been completed that the lesser imposition of a restrictive covenant may be possible.”
Concerns have also raised over the amount of noise compensation that would be payable and the number of homes that would be eligible for that.
Campaign group Manston Airport Fair Noise Insulation Compensation says Thanet residents are not being offered the same level of compensation that those living near other airports will receive.
A MAFNIC spokesperson said: “Riveroak are offering noise compensation at 63dB (decibels). London City Airport and Heathrow are offering residents compensation at 57dB. Thanet needs the same protection, “
The current compensation on offer would mean around 275 residents qualifying for up to £10,000 to soundproof their homes.
If the 57dB threshold were to be applied MAFNIC calculates that up to 6,500 properties in Thanet would be entitled to protection.
MAFNIC noise calculations
The group says the figures are based on an independently commissioned Civil Aviation Authority noise contour map which was presented to airport planning inspectors at the recent DCO meetings.
MAFNIC has organised an online petition calling for parity with other UK airports
The Examining authority has also raised the issue of the compulsory purchase proposals overlap on land owned by Manston Green developers Cogent LLP.
RSP says it will work with the developers to confirm the use of the overlapping land but that the DCO scheme will not impact upon the deliverability of the Manston Green development.
The Examining authority asks why there has been little/no attempt to engage with Cogent.
Funding and funders
Questions raised over the funders for the scheme include whether identities should be in the public domain.
RSP said in submitted documents: “Business Investment Relief is an HMRC-approved scheme introduced to encourage non-domiciled UK residents to invest in the UK and does not require those using it to be disclosed. For the ExA to insist on full disclosure of those individual investors has the potential to undermine this type of investment in the UK.”
RSP say a total of £13.1million had been set aside for costs, including noise mitigation, and submitted a letter from Aldgate Developments pledging £250million to the first phase of works on the project. It is stated that Rubicon Capital Advisors will raise funds for the scheme.
The Examining authority has asked if agreements have been reached with Adgate and Rubicon whether Aldgate Developments is one of the four additional funders indicated by RSP in written submissions.
Further questions have been raised about business plan forecasts, road networks and the proposed use of the Northern Grass.
The question of land contamination has also been raised by resident Richard Card who says there is likely firefighting foam residual chemical PFOA in the land and water.
He says: “PFOA can escape sites by air, by ground water, by outfall to sea or by water supply. Manston has all of these escape routes.”
Mr Card says Southern Water abstracts from the Manston aquifer but it has never been tested for PFOA. He says a PFOA classification would render construction plans ‘obsolete’ for both RSP and SHP.
Mr Card adds: “Thanet council is still purporting to be reviewing its contaminated land strategy but appears not to
be taking account of the PFOA classification. Similarly TDC is supposed to report to Local Plan inspector re Safety of Water Supply but again I must question are TDC taking account of the PFOA classification?
“My interpretation is that it is now the duty of TDC to contain PFOA to sites (such as Manston) and to prevent its release (such as to air,to sea to neighbouring land or into water supply).”
A new submission from resident Christine Redmond asks whether the Avia Solutions report, commissioned by Thanet council and published in 2016, can still be considered as evidence.
Mrs Redmond says the firm, which came to the conclusion that it was “most unlikely that Manston Airport would represent a viable investment opportunity, has now U turned on its view of the cargo market.
She submits: “The Avia consultancy report previously trashed RSP’s plans for a successful cargo hub at Manston Airport, citing a limited capacity for further cargo business overall in the UK, and Thanet District Council (TDC) and Stone Hill Park made much of this consultancy report during the PINS meetings.
“However, (in a recently published report) Avia Solutions now clearly supports the objective of a prosperous future for air cargo. This is a contradiction to Avia’s previous report produced for TDC. Surely this latest news from Avia Solutions which plainly shows their confidence in air cargo growth, invalidates the credibility of the original consultancy report to TDC?”
The examination report and recommendation is expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State by November with a decision likely to be announced in January 2020″.
19th October 2018
Please find below also the response from our Press Officer – Nicholas Reed:
Ronald McCartny is quite right! (“A sensible alternative to Heathrow already exists”, October 19) Manston has many advantages to Heathrow. Until Manston Airport was closed, most of its planes flew straight over the English Channel within minutes of taking off, and could arrive at Schiphol Airport, an international ‘hub’ airport almost as big as Heathrow, within 35 minutes! The sooner it comes back, the better.
As MPs have noticed, it is the one airport in the country where 80% of the locals want it to return, and get bigger!
30th August, 2018
Sir Tam Dalyell, Laird and former Labour Member of Parliament for Linlithgow and Father of the House, was renowned in the Commons and in his constituency for his fixation with the sinking Argentine battleship The Belgrano during the Falklands war.
I am aware that in the House and in Kent I have also, though less distinguished, become recognised for another single issue – a determination to secure the re-opening of Manston airfield as a working airport. Unlike Sir Tam`s fruitless campaign, however, I believe that my just cause will, in the National interest, be brought to fruition and that in the fullness of time planes will once again fly from Manston airfield.
That cause recently took a significant step forward with the acceptance for examination, by the National Planning Inspectorate, of an application for a development Consent Order on Manston. The PINS, as it is known, has recognised that, as I have been saying since the airport was peremptorily and unnecessarily closed, Manston is a site of national as well as local significance. That more has already been spent by the RiverOak Strategic Partnership on the preparation of the DCO application than was demanded by the owner of the site as the full and offered asking price gives the lie to those who have sought to suggest that RSP does not have sufficient resources to do the job. That fact that has been recognised by the Leader of Thanet District Council Bob Bayford, and his new Conservative administration of Thanet Council and by TDC`s senior officers, in a submitted Local Plan that has given the breathing space to allow for Manston to be up and flying again in time to meet an urgent national need for post-Brexit runway capacity in the South East.
There is now the opportunity for the submission to be properly and thoroughly scrutinised, for those who have criticised the project to have their say, for the true facts relating to environmental impact, business plan and resources to be aired and examined and for a sound judgement to be reached. I hope and expect that in the local and in the national interest that process will be expedited and that work on the complete and necessary refurbishment of the airfield can commence as swiftly as possible.
In common with the clear majority of local people voting in recent General, County and Local elections I want to see passenger traffic and General Aviation operating from Manston in the shortest order practicably achievable. I recognise, though, that there is a desperate and growing demand for capacity to handle air freight in order to enable the United Kingdom to take advantage of developing markets outside the European Union and that it is that trade that will create the bedrock for a financially successful state-of-the-art Manston Hub and that warrants the many tens of millions of pounds worth in new infrastructure that will be required. That does not, for the record, demand scheduled night flights and although there will always be, as there has been in the past, a need for the flexibility to handle emergency, disaster relief and delayed aircraft I know of nothing in the RSP proposals that will require the `night flying` that remains the stuff of anti-airport fiction.
Traditionally much air freight, particularly into a Heathrow that is now bursting at the seams, has been carried as `belly cargo` in passenger aircraft. As recent interest in sales expressed at the Farnborough Air Show has demonstrated, however, there is now an increasing requirement for dedicated or multi-purpose aircraft designed to carry long-haul perishable and high value materials and products between continents. While air freight represents only a tiny fraction of goods trafficked in terms of volume it represents a very significant and rapidly expanding percentage of goods in terms of value. UK limited, if our post-Brexit economy is to compete, survive and grow as it must, has to secure its fair share of traffic and business that will otherwise be lost to mainland European airports.
With the development of exciting rail as well as road transport links currently under consideration I believe that Manston has the realisable potential to be once again on the front line of service to the United Kingdom and while that may appear, to some, as an obsession I believe that it is a justification of a determination to succeed.
23rd August 2018
This letter, by our Press Officer, Nicholas Reed, was published in the Comments section of the Isle of Thanet News on 28th June, 2018
Re articles by Matthew and Melissa, on Manston Airport,
published on 23rd June 2018
Our group Why Not Manston? are extremely suspicious about the new written debate on Manston published in the Isle of Thanet News on 23rd June. Within less than one day of these articles being published, your newspaper managed to come up with the figure of 36% support for the airport, and 63% against! That information was hidden in the body of the published debate, i.e. after the two articles, and before all the comments sent in by readers. That percentage is totally contrary to every other poll on the subject held in Thanet.
Where did the paper suddenly find 530 people opposed to the airport, within less than 24 hours of the poll being published? One of the most detailed anti-airport comments comes from someone apparently called “Max Sense”. What a highly unusual name. Has he written anywhere else?
This new “poll” is also totally contrary to the genuine democratic vote in the last local elections, where the one party which made clear that its primary policy was to bring back Manston, was given an overwhelming majority to carry out that policy. No-one guessed that they, or rather their leader, would completely change his mind on the matter. So who is the polling organisation which produced this poll in the newspaper? Is it independent? Is the poll overseen by an impartial auditor, as happens with reputable public opinion polls who publish their findings?
The opponents of Manston keep on making nasty remarks about RSP being a new company only a year old. In fact, under the rules of a DCO, the reason the new company exists is that a DCO cannot be applied for, by a company based outside Great Britain. Since Riveroak is in the USA, they have set up a separate British company, called RSP, which can legitimately apply for the DCO. But of course RSP it is still backed by money from outside, which is perfectly legitimate as long as that is declared in public.
We are also worried about procedures for discussion of the request for the Development Consent Order. We originally understood that they would be held like a public enquiry, where everything could be discussed and explained, with evidence published, and with prominent supporters on both sides giving oral evidence. That is exactly what happened when the House of Commons Transport Committee asked for evidence about Manston some five years ago, and every side had its say in a Committee Room of the House of Commons. We have since got the impression that the panel of judges appointed by the DOE will not meet in public! It would be good to have a reassurance that their proceedings will be held in public, as they should.
Nicholas Reed – Press Officer – Why Not Manston?
28th June 2018
Isle of Thanet Gazette
11th May 2018
Isle of Thanet Gazette
9th March 2018
Isle of Thanet Gazette
Council Cabinet Treachery
– how can they dare to look their electorate in the face again?
The answer is they cannot . Having reneged on the promises to support the regeneration of Manston Airport they and their arch renegade Chris Wells ought to be booted out of office for defying their electorate at the next election.
The following nonsense appeared in the article by Joyeeta Basu in the Gazette Oct 27 p14…the council said yesterday that building an airport was not viable – pointing to the fact that several attempts at operating a commercial airport had previously failed.
That failure lay with the small scale and half baked business plans of operators who were attempting to run uneconomic passenger airlines there on a shoestring with unsuitable aircraft. Feeble support from the New Zealand based airport owner Infratil ran down Manston, just as Infratil had also run down Glasgow/Prestwick while they owned it. Having achieved the status of “loss making”, Infratil sold both airports for £1 within a few weeks of each other. It is interesting that the founders of Stagecoach – Ann Gloag (buyer of Manston) and her brother – Sir Brian Souter (prominent financier of the SNP in control of the Scottish Government – which instantly purchased Glasgow/Prestwick) are involved in the buying of these airports. Why? Well, Glasgow airport was sold to Infratil in January 2001 for £33.4 million by guess who?….Yes, Stagecoach. Stagecoach meanwhile have built up considerable coaching assets in New Zealand, no doubt using similar ‘tactics’ as in the UK, until in November 2005 when Stagecoach agreed a sale for NZ$250.5m to guess who?…..Yes, Infratil. One wonders if there is some rather special relationship between these enterprises.
According to Joyeeta Basu…the Council further noted that: jobs and homes were needed and therefore the proposal (..2500 homes, business park, sport recreational facilities parkland and outdoor space) was making the best of a redundant facility.
The airport is not redundant but has been deliberately closed by Ann Gloag and her consortium who aim to make maximum financial gain from housing. The leader of the last administration of Thanet District Council, Iris Johnston, made entirely clear that there is already enough brownfield and other sites within Thanet District to provide for the Government’s extra house building requirements without sacrificing Manston with its unique and priceless EXISTING runway. It is indeed the most perfect target for the housebuilders because of clear open space, but housing will do nothing for the creation of jobs and wealth, with a multitude of spin offs and secondary businesses that will come. It seems utterly absurd that Blackpool Council is spending £4.25 million buying back Blackpool Airport to secure the airport as an important hub for the benefit of the whole region and millions are being spent to secure the future of Leeds Bradford whilst our own Council appears complicit in doing its best to thwart Manston’s easily achievable success. It will not cost Thanet Council a brass farthing – RiverOak Strategic Partners stand ready to invest hundreds of millions in the expansion of the airport hardstanding and related servicing buildings to make it an entirely viable operation. At a time when Brexit will create overwhelming expansion of our import and export operations….all Thanet Council has to do it has to do is stop its treacherous efforts to stifle the rebirth of our airport.
Geoffrey Illsley – Vice Chairman, Why Not Manston?
Isle of Thanet Gazette
All the latest on the airport’s future….
I’m sure I’m not the only resident of Thanet to be confused by the Leader of the Council’s recent comments concerning Manston airport.
At the end of last year, the Thanet Cabinet decided to make a drastic change to its draft Local Plan by designating the Manston airport site as an area for “mixed use development”. This changed the site’s previous designation as an airport. There can be no doubting the Council’s intentions when this was done because Cllr Wells made it very clear that the site had no future as an airport
The draft Local Plan is now out for consultation and I have not seen anything which suggests that the Council is intending to change its position regarding the re-zoning of the airport site. This means that, if the Local Plan is finally adopted in its current draft form, the Council’s wishes will become part of the planning framework and Manston will no longer be zoned as an airport.
How does Cllr Wells reconcile this with his statement as recently as that published in the Gazette two weeks ago that, “we are working hard to bring back the airport.” How can this be a correct statement if steps have already been taken to re-zone it for mixed use?
I was even more confused when reading Cllr Wells letter in the Gazette in which he comments that, if RiverOak succeed with their plans for the airport, “a third of all planned flights could be at night.” I’d love to know where Cllr Wells gets his one third figure from as firstly, I have never heard or read this anywhere in RiverOak’s plans and secondly, according to the current section 106 agreement there are restrictions on night flights which would clearly prohibit this.
So I have two questions for Cllr Wells –
Do you support the council’s draft Local Plan or do you want an operational airport?
Why do you not put forward proposals for a revised section 106 which clearly stipulates precisely what would and would not be acceptable and which could even include stricter controls on night flights.
Night flights are not dependent on what RiverOak wants – they are dependent on the terms of a new section 106 agreement which has to be agreed by the Planning Inspectorate. So please, Cllr Wells, as a TDC resident, I would like some honesty and clarity from you – as I am sure many others would too.
MANSTON AIRPORT – SECTION 106
We have all been reading about Section 106 in the press recently but most people have absolutely no idea of the details.
We have been looking into this for our own information and would now like to share our understanding of it with local residents.
Section 106 is actually the Agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 between TDC and Kent International Airport and is dated 26th September 2000 and contains conditions and guidelines set out by TDC which govern flights in to and out of Manston Airport. That Agreement has never been terminated and therefore currently remains in place.
The S106 Agreement covers many points, but as it is often being quoted with respect to night flights, we are highlighting those clauses relating to that aspect of airport operations:
Flights can only take off and land between the hours of 07.00 and 23.00.
Only exceptions are for:
a. PASSENGER flights departing to Europe or arriving from North America with a noise level of Quota Count 4 or less are permitted to take off / land between 06.00 and 07.00
b. Humanitarian, mercy or emergency flights by relief organisations on not more than 12 occasions during any calendar year
Furthermore there are significant financial penalties if the airport permits any night flight for an aircraft exceeding the Quota Count 4 noise level.
Virtually every airport in the world has night time flying restrictions and there is no reason for Manston to be an exception to that.
As part of the public consultations which RiverOak Strategic Partners are currently holding, they are asking for feed-back from local residents on the RSP plans and will collate that information and take it into account when they finalise their operation plans for Manston in their DCO Application later this year.
If RSP are successful in having the application accepted for examination by an Inspector there will then follow a period of six months next year during which time the Inspector will consider all the conditions to be imposed on airport operations. This will include the conditions for a future section 106 Agreement.
To be clear, the DCO Inspector and then the Secretary of State for Transport will have the final say on what goes into a new S106 Agreement. However they will pay serious regard to the views of TDC as the local planning authority and they will expect there to be a constructive dialogue between TDC and RSP leading to a
“Statement of Common Ground” if possible. Ideally, at the end of that process there would be a revised S106 which could amend the timings, set the restrictions on aircraft types and noise levels for any night flights etc.
Finally, part of the DCO process involves many studies, one of which is the noise impact of night flights for local residents. For the purpose of this study, RSP have made an assumption of 8 night flights but this is purely for the study – it is not part of their operations plans and this is the basis of much confusion.
Signed by: Why Not Manston?”
Isle of Thanet Gazette
20th January 2017
Isle of Thanet Gazette
13th January 2017
“DRAMATIC and urgent action has been taken by Stratford-on-Avon District Council to prevent the demolition of buildings at Wellesbourne Airfield.
31/8/16 Meeting Notes published for meeting on 19th July between RiverOak and Planning Inspectorate see HERE
2/9/16 Public Enquiry for change of use appeals to be held 1st November 2016 see HERE
Isle of Thanet Gazette
THANET council cabinet members have voted not to pursue a compulsory purchase of the Manston airport site, but the move is unlikely to mark the end of the saga.
Cabinet unanimously agreed to officers’ recommendations published last week, which concluded potential partners RiverOak did not have “appropriate financial status” to operate an airport.
However, an additional motion was passed, meaning the council will write to RiverOak requesting the American firm sends confidential financial information to Transport Minister John Hayes for further inspection.
The move comes after council leader Iris Johnston held talks over the airport with the minister in London today (Thursday). Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Cllr Johnston said: “The council cannot be expected to take a leap of faith- we have to be mindful. “We cannot risk council tax payers’ funds and we have to have an indemnity partner that covers all the costs.”
Around 100 airport campaigners stood outside the local authority’s offices in Cecil Square, Margate before and during the meeting.
Conservative group leader Bob Bayford said: “People cannot seem to understand why the only people who are not in favour of a CPO is us [Thanet council]
“The people are looking to you [Cllr Johnston] to go for this- they’re looking for leadership and I do not think up until now that has really happened.”
All councillors will now debate the wider issues surrounding the Manston airport site at an extraordinary meeting scheduled to take place on December 16.
Isle of Thanet Gazette
8th August 2014
Isle of Thanet Gazette
1st August 2014
31st July 2014
25th July 2014
18th July 2014
18th July 2014
11th July 2014
3rd July 2014
20th June 2014
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