Latest news in brief…

Manston to serve as global testing destination for NASA award-winning Hydrogen Fuel Cell Systems being developed at Discovery Park, Sandwich

HyPoint, the company developing zero carbon-emission turbo air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell systems for aviation and urban air mobility, today announced a partnership with RiverOak Strategic Partners which will enable HyPoint’s aviation customers to leverage the airport’s existing infrastructure, as well as planned new testing zones, at Manston to evaluate HyPoint’s hydrogen fuel cell system in their new or retrofitted aircraft. Both companies are committed to furthering the aviation decarbonisation efforts outlined in the UK’s Net Zero Strategy.

In addition, HyPoint and Manston have committed to exchange information about the development of hydrogen infrastructure in airports around the world; ongoing progress with respect to hydrogen fuel cell technology and usage; and various government and commercial initiatives related to hydrogen aviation. The companies will also work together on related grant opportunities in order to implement the UK Net Zero Strategy and accelerate the transition to zero-emission aviation.

“Along with HyPoint’s headquarters at Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent is rapidly becoming the world’s go-to destination for hydrogen aviation innovation,” said Dr. Alex Ivanenko, founder and CEO of HyPoint. “This partnership will enable our customers to conduct real-world testing and evaluation of our hydrogen fuel cell systems in their aircraft — a critical step to bringing zero-emission hydrogen aviation to the world. In addition, our partnership will serve as a strategic pillar in the reopening of Manston Airport, which will be a boon for Kent and all of England.”

“Manston Airport has an illustrious history as a Battle of Britain airfield and, under our management, will have a promising future as a vibrant hub for international airfreight – one which delivers economic prosperity and employment across Kent and protects a strategic aviation resource for the nation,” said Tony Freudmann, Director of RSP. “In addition to reopening Manston as a global freight hub, enabling the airport to fulfil its role in helping the UK trade across the globe and to import vital and time-sensitive goods, we plan to serve as an international hub for clean aviation development. We are excited to work alongside HyPoint and its customers to bring clean, safe, hydrogen-powered aircraft to market.”

The revived Manston Airport, expected to open in 2025, will provide air freight operators with a realistic alternative to the overcrowded London airports; ease the considerable road congestion caused by lorries carrying freight through the channel tunnel to European airports; improve resilience; and boost economic growth and jobs in Kent. Working with HyPoint and on other initiatives will put East Kent and the UK at the forefront of clean aviation. It will also stimulate high tech job creation and knowledge transfer. Manston is expected to create over 23,000 jobs across East Kent and the wider national economy by the airport’s 20th year of operation.



DfT decision not to contest the Judicial Review*

Naturally the Department for Transport’s decision not to contest the Judicial Review is disappointing, although it may in fact save time. It is a feature of the DCO process that, in order for more information to be provided by the Secretary of State on the reasons for his decision, the decision must be re-taken, and so the project is effectively back to the final decision stage.

We faced a similar situation two years ago when we withdrew our DCO application, to provide additional information, before successfully resubmitting it for acceptance. It’s important that this is done correctly, in order that Manston can deliver on its full potential, and we welcome the Government’s decision being put on as robust a basis as possible.

RSP remains confident in our proposals and of the increasing need for Manston to support the UK’s freight handling capabilities, post-Brexit and to aid the economic recovery from COVID-19. We will make additional representations, when invited to do so, with evidence from across the last eighteen months (since the DCO examination stage closed) – and look forward to publication of the Secretary of State’s comprehensive assessment of the basis for granting the DCO, early in 2021, so that we may begin works to restore the airport to operational use.

In the meantime, we continue the CAA airspace change process to determine the future flightpaths for Manston and we have, this week, also reached agreement for Manston to be used as a temporary Customs outpost, until July 2021.”

So it’s back to the waiting game again.


* Statement by Tony Freudman, Director RSP, 6 Jan 2021,  in response to a WNM? request for further information following the decision by the Judicial Review Board to quash the granting of approval for development by Grant Schapps (Min of T) in late 2020

The current position is that we are waiting for the Secretary of State to invite further representations from the public and interested parties before he begins to redraft his Letter of Consent. The likelihood is that a short period for making representations will be allowed and we hope the invitation to do so will be published in the next few days.



Flights in and out of Manston

Published on July 29th, 2020

Even when operating at its future peak (circa twenty years after reopening), Manston Airport will average no more than five large aircraft movements per hour – and will not operate any scheduled services overnight.

The Development Consent Order granted by the Secretary of State for Transport restricts RSP from exceeding an average of just under three cargo movements per hour and, eventually – once passenger services return to the airport –  an average of just under two passenger aircraft an hour. Even General Aviation, which includes small business aircraft, Search & Rescue, air ambulance and pleasure/pilot training flights, will be restricted to an average of six movements an hour.

Requirement 21 in the DCO also specifies the restrictions on hours in which the airport can operate – with no flights at all permitted between 23.00 and 06.00 and limitations on which services can operate during the daytime too: 21.—

(1) The operation of the airport is subject to— (a) a total annual cargo air transport movement limit of 17,170; (b) a total annual passenger air transport movement limit of 9,298; and  (c) a total annual general aviation movement limit of 38,000.

(2) No aircraft is to take-off or be scheduled to land between the hours of 23:00 and 06:00.

(3) No passenger air transport departures are to take place between the hours of 09:00 and 11:30. There must only be one passenger air transport departure between the hours of 11:30 and 11:44 and one passenger air transport departure between the hours of 11:45 and 12:00. There must only be one scheduled passenger air transport arrival between the hours of 07:00 and 08:00.

(4) No passenger air transport departures are to take place between the hours of 20:00 and 21:00. There must only be one passenger air transport arrival between the hours of 16:00 and 17:00; only two passenger air transport departures between the hours of 1800 and 19:00; and only one passenger air transport departure between the hours of 19:00 and 20:00.

These restrictions, which RSP agreed to when consulted by the Government and was pleased to see confirmed, mean that it can operate the airport with minimal impact on local communities in Thanet and East Kent.

RSP Director Tony Freudmann said: “Our aim is to be a responsible neighbour, one which provides jobs and opportunities, but is also mindful of the impact of its operations. We completely understand that there will be people who are concerned about the reintroduction of aircraft flying to and from Manston. That is to be expected, but be assured that the numbers are very small and legally cannot be exceeded. We feel confident that the strict limits imposed by the DCO, together with huge advances in aircraft technology achieved since the airport closed in 2014, will balance the significant economic and social benefits of a revived and successful Manston Airport with the needs of the local community.”



Gale’s View

15 July, 2020

It should by now be common knowledge that the Department for transport has approved the Development Consent Order for the reconstruction and re-opening of Manston Airport. That the decision was announced on the eve of the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain is perhaps a fitting tribute to a front-line airfield that has given service to this Country for more than a hundred years and that will know be able to continue to serve the nation in a new and re-vitalised capacity in an hour of different need. 

I am aware that the decision will have disappointed those people who took a punt on the assertion that Manston would be turned into a massive dormitory estate for the London Boroughs to exploit but the clue is in the fact that Manston has been designated as an airfield in the local plan and remains designated as an airfield in the Local Plan voted through last Thursday evening after the Minister`s decision had been announced and with the overwhelming support of all parties.  That vote for Manston Airport represents a reflection of the democratic wish of the people of Thanet as demonstrated in two local Council elections, two County Council elections and three General Elections in each of which platforms the future of Manston was a key plank.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the post-Brexit and post-Covid requirement for additional runway and handling capacity has been foremost in the Minister`s mind when taking his decision. There is also the small matter of more than £300 million of inward investment now confirmed at a time when the economy is in the rough and unemployment is inevitably bound to rise. That money is a sum the like of which has never before been seen in East Kent and its long-term job creating potential for future generations of local young people will be colossal.

The process to date, albeit expensive, has been the prelude.  Now the real task starts. There is a considerable amount of detailed design work to be undertaken in short order and then contracts to be advertised and let before a single turf will be cut.  That inevitable delay will be frustrating for us all but it is essential. There is only a handful of companies in the country capable of managing a project of this scale but we are promised that part of the deal will be that as much of the work as possible will be sub-contracted to local firms and that employment of local labour is a priority for the developers, The RiverOak Strategic Partnership.

We are now looking at wheels on runway tarmac in 2023 with employment during construction and then in aviation- related industries and freight handling facilities rising steadily. We are also promised a world-class net-zero-carbon airport that will be as environmentally friendly as is achievable and that will help to blaze a trail for the aviation of the future.  The terms of the DCO stipulate clearly that night flights, save for the landing of late passenger aircraft on rare occasions, will not be permitted which kicks that false allegation into touch.  It is also untrue to suggest, as a few have done, that Manston will be a freight-only airport.  Passenger traffic is, of course, in a parlous state for obvious reason but it will recover. By the time that the new Manston Airport is up and away the situation will be very different. It will then be possible to deliver a passenger-handling facility designed to meet the needs of tomorrow and to seek to have some short-haul “sunshine flight” aircraft based at the airfield.  We should not overlook, either, the desire of TG Aviation to return to its natural home nor the potential, with a fast rail link, to attract General Aviation as well. We shall, I believe, have before long and in Thanet a facility that we can be truly proud of.

It is six long years since some of us attended the first “Save Manston” meeting at an over-crowded Acol village hall. Sitting in the front row was a little girl whose Daddy was going to have to leave home in Thanet to find another job when the airport closed.  We promised her that we would move heaven and earth to get her airfield open again and we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to those whose faith in our piece of history and its future have remained steadfast. Per Ardua  Ad Astra.

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SMAa and KNMA Manston airport supporter groups – Decision day for the DCO



The decision on a development consent order for the Manston airport site is due, barring no more delays, on July 10.

RiverOak Strategic Partners submitted a DCO application in July 2018 in a bid to gain compulsory buy-out powers over the Manston airport site. This part of the application was later negated by a £16.5 million purchase of the majority of the site. The firm wants to revive aviation at the site with a cargo hub and associated business.

The DCO seeks development consent and compulsory buy-out powers over the land. It is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP).

Here Save Manston Airport association and Kent Needs Manston Airport supporter groups talk about their view of the application

The Manston Airport DCO decision is now imminent.

Put simply, if granted, the DCO would enable the single largest investment to be made in the history of Thanet. One from which a wide range of Kentish and Thanet people will benefit, as we become the site of an important piece of national infrastructure that will help Britain to rebuild its economy post-coronavirus and take advantage of new trading opportunities as we complete the transition period of our departure from the EU.

Right now, the Government is discussing how important investment in infrastructure is as a way of kick starting the economy. Well, RSP is ready to go with £300 million in private investment – making no drain on the public purse, but creating first construction jobs – and then operational ones.

RSP has always placed a strong emphasis on education and training for local people. They are very keen on the airport where possible being staffed by local people and are already working with local educational bodies to plan ahead for the training and qualifications that the airport will need. This means tangible education and job opportunities for the people of East Kent and Thanet at a time when our local economy most needs it.

RSP has also made commitments which will ensure the airport will be innovative in minimising its environmental impact, using green technology wherever possible. Its existence will also mean a reduction in the need for cross-channel trucking of freight.

Between the acceptance of the DCO, and the beginning of operations, there will be many further improvements to bio-fuels, and other forms of propulsion, reducing noise and pollution levels – all of which RSP can capitalise upon. For example, KLM the last passenger flight operator from Manston, has a deal with the Dutch government to build a plant to manufacture aviation biofuel which contributes only 15% carbon of the carbon compared to normal aviation fuel.

Combine this with Manston as the first UK green airport and switching in future to fly from Manston will help the UK hit its ambitious carbon targets.

Manston has been an airport for 100 years. It is zoned in the Local Plan for aviation use, and has been purchased by RiverOak for use as an airport – they cannot build houses on it and they don’t want to. RSP can see real potential in developing the airport, hence their long term commitment and investment in securing the DCO.

Airports have a strong trickle-down effect on their local communities. As well as the direct benefits to jobs and the supply chain, local taxes and other revenues from Manston-based companies will boost the wider economy, pumping money into social care, libraries and other essential services. Well trained jobs attract higher salaries, boosting standards of living and could help to reverse the drain of high level medical and dental staff from Thanet that we are currently seeing.

This will all help us to play our part to get the country get back on its feet, as well as providing the jobs in East Kent that are so desperately needed at this time.

So,  why is a cargo hub right for Manston? And why now?

COVID has exposed the lack of resilience in UK aviation’s airfreight capability, with its reliance on cargo carried in the bellies of passenger aircraft. This has resulted in shortages of good and food – as passenger aircraft stayed on the ground, cargo could not be transport.

Manston would give UK airfreight system more resilience. Manston will be a true airfreight airport, designed and purpose built from the ground up to turn freight round quickly, rather than prioritising passenger aircraft to the detriment of freight.

For example: the UK manufacturing industry in the UK relies on “JIT” (Just in Time) planning for the supply of its components used in the manufacture of its products. This brings cost savings by reducing stock levels and, in turn, stock-carrying costs.

With the weight/mass of electronic/electrical components being small, these items are ideally suited for air freight shipment:

  • door to door within 48 hours (faster than by sea)
  • shipped to manufacturing lines in 56 hours
  • and to manufacturers customer/end user in as little as 14 days

All bringing lower carrying costs and finance charges.

A re-built Manston Airport will be up and running and in prime position for when aviation returns to pre-Covid-19 levels by 2023/24 and can capitalise on the lack of dedicated cargo facilities at UK airports.

From the outset, Save Manston Airport association has supported the plans for the airport and stands should to shoulder with all those in Thanet that are also keen to see Manston Airport re-open. We are determined to support RSP in ensuring it can deliver the full potential of the airport, for the long-term benefit of the whole East Kent community and look forward to a great outcome on July 10 when the decision is announced.



Manston boss reveals 2022 opening date if cargo hub is approved but airport may still have no-deal Brexit use

A new cargo aviation hub at Manston could be open by spring 2022 if the controversial plans are given the green light.

Government planners have now decided if a bid to reopen the airport site should be backed, but their views have yet to be made public.

The Planning Inspectorate has sent its recommendations on the proposal to transport secretary Grant Shapps, who will make the final decision on the move.

Mr Shapps now has three months to decide whether to grant planning permission to site owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) in the form of a Development Consent Order (DCO).

The decision rests with him as the airport bid is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

If approved, RSP will push forward with its plans to reopen Manston as an airport primarily focusing on cargo freight.

Director of RSP Tony Freudman says he is “cautiously optimistic” it will go through.

“If so, it will mean the airport would have formal planning permission and full developmental approval for the cargo hub,” he said.

“We now own the airport so we no longer have to ask the secretary of state to give us a compulsory purchase order, which we originally wanted.”

He says the site might still be used for Operation Brock, which would see lorries parked there in the event of travel problems at Channel ports post-Brexit, until December 2020.

“our plan is to start construction in 2021 and be open for business, once the licence is approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, in Spring 2022”

Mr Freudman says that there has been continuing growth in the air freight cargo market, driven chiefly by the increase in e-commerce and what is known as e-fulfillment – the growing demand for warehousing and storage.


“Manston DCO recommendation report is sent to the Secretary of State

Taken From Isle of Thanet News (18.10.19)

A recommendation report by the Planning Inspectorate over the development consent order for the Manston airport site has been sent to the Secretary of State today (October 18).   The report had been delayed due to final payment not being processed.

The Planning Inspectorate examining panel, led by Kelvin McDonald, examined the bid earlier this year that was made by Riveroak Strategic Partners 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 days before the hearings concluded.

The sale contained a clause which means RSP cannot sell the land until 2029 unless SHP agree.

DCO approval is still needed for the cargo hub project, an issue which has split the isle. Supporters of the plan say it will bring jobs and economic benefits but campaigners against the proposals say it will result in pollution, noise and a loss of tourist trade – particularly in Ramsgate which is under the flight path.

During the hearings representations were 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 Secretary of State now has three months in which to issue a decision. The decision letter and Recommendation Report will be published on the Planning Inspectorate Manston project page once a decision has been made.”



Manston MoD fire training and development centre to be closed following Capita contract award

Taken From Isle of Thanet News (23.08.19)

The fire training and Development Centre at Manston will close with operations being transferred to Moreton-in-Marsh.

The move follows the agreement in July of a 12 year contract, worth £525 million, to outsource Ministry of Defence fire and rescue operations to private company Capita.

The firm was selected by the MOD as the winning tender for the Defence Fire and Rescue Project in June 2018.

But there was a delay in the award of the contract following a legal challenge from Serco Ltd, the other final bidder. The government agreed an out-of-court settlement of £10 million to settle the dispute.

The contract involves operating 53 fire stations  in the UK, and on MOD sites in Cyprus and the Falkland Islands.

Capita says investment will be made in digital technology solutions, new fire engines and other equipment to upgrade fire-fighting capabilities.

Photo Mike Nichols

But the Manston centre will be closed down with training transferred to Capita’s existing fire training facility at Moreton-in-Marsh.

In a statement to Parliament Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Tobias Ellwood said: “The award of this contract will enable the Ministry of Defence to vacate large elements of the Manston site which will be released to support economic development, potentially including housing, in the local area.”

The statement was made prior to the sale of the Manston site by Stone Hill Park, which had a masterplan for housing and infrastructure, to RiverOak Strategic Partners, which plans to develop a cargo hub.

The outsourcing has been slammed by Nia Griffith MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, who said: ““It beggars belief that the Conservatives have awarded this service to a company that has failed so appallingly to deliver its existing defence contracts. Capita has made a total mess of Army recruitment, and yet Ministers seem hell-bent on privatising as many MoD services as possible, without any consideration of the costs to our Armed Forces or the taxpayer.

“This service should never have been privatised in the first place when it is being delivered well in House.”

The Defence Fire and Risk Management Organisation provides fire cover to 300,000 Ministry of Defence employees and strategic assets dispersed across 4,600 sites with 45,000 buildings worth more than £100bn. It has 2,000 military, civil service, locally employed civilian and contractor staff.

Initially, around 560 MOD civil servants, mainly firefighting personnel, are expected to transfer to Capita under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations.

A date for the closure at Manston has not yet been released.

Capita has been asked for further comment.


The sale of the Manston airport site has been completed

The sale of the Manston airport site to the firm aiming to bring cargo aviation and associated businesses to the site has been completed this evening (July 9).

Contracts were exchanged between RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) and former landowners Stone Hill Park last Wednesday but could not be completed until permission was given by the Secretary of State.

This was needed due to  a special development order designating the Manston airport site for use as a lorry park to cope with possible post-Brexit jams at the Port of Dover which is contracted to run until December 31, 2020.

Permission was received today.

Completion of the transaction, which means RSP subsidiary RiverOak MSE owns more than 95% of the site wanted for the airport plans, took place at 7.30pm.

SHP had owned 742 acres of the site which totals around 770 acres with plots belonging to other interested parties. RSP paid the firm £16.5million for the site. SHP had previously submitted a planning application to create up to 3,700 homes, business and leisure and associated infrastructure.

A Planning Inspectorate panel, led by Kelvin McDonald, has been examining the Development Consent Order bid being made by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) to  acquire the site and create the cargo hub.

That examination, which opened in January, concluded today.

The DCO is still needed for the cargo hub project with a decision from the Secretary of State expected by January 2020. However, the compulsory purchase part of the application for the SHP owned land – equating to 98% of the site – is now defunct, although other landowners will still need to be compensated.

Issues surrounding national need, night flights and noise and blight compensation still need to be considered under the DCO process.

The land sale deal means SHP will withdraw its objection to the DCO. It will also withdraw its two outstanding planning applications for housing and mixed use on Manston and will no longer participate in the Local Plan Enquiry.

Tony Freudmann, of RSP, said: “We completed our transaction at 7.30pm. It is a great feeling.”


Manston Airport site sold to RiverOak Strategic Partners Limited

Published on July 3rd, 2019

Stone Hill Park Limited (SHP) has agreed to sell all its interests in the Manston Airport site to RiverOak Strategic Partners Limited (RSP). Contracts were exchanged yesterday (Tuesday 2 July) and completion of the purchase is expected to take place early next week.

The site is currently subject to a Development Consent Order (DCO) examination process on proposals by RSP to reopen the airport as a freight hub.

As the new owners of the site, RSP will be able to carry out survey work vital to the conclusion of the DCO examination process with immediate effect.

SHP has agreed that, on completion, it will withdraw its objection to the DCO. It will also withdraw its two outstanding planning applications for housing and mixed use on Manston and will no longer participate in the Local Plan Enquiry.

This means that the Examining Authority will no longer be asked to consider compulsory acquisition powers over 98% of the site and will instead be able to focus on the benefits of the project and the management of environmental impacts.

George Yerrall, a director of RSP said, “It has been a long process with SHP and we felt the time had come for the parties to come together to negotiate a settlement of the ownership issues. We now look forward to focusing on securing development consent and making rapid progress towards the re-opening of Manston with all the economic and other benefits we believe it will bring to Thanet and East Kent.

Since the acceptance of our DCO application for examination we have had immense interest from interested parties, not only airlines and freight operators, but also a wide range of other organisations that will benefit from the airport reopening, including local colleges and employers. Now that we have secured the land, it will allow us to develop those relationships as far as we can whilst we wait to receive development consent.”


Manston DCO:Topic of compulsory acquisition scheduled for resumed hearings

Original story here

The public examination into the development consent order application for the Manston airport site reopens next week.

Hearings resume on Monday (June 3) at Discovery Park with the hot topic of compulsory acquisition -as well as funding and funders –being heard on June 4.

The DCO bid is being made by firm RiverOak Strategic Partners with the aim of acquiring the site and creating a cargo hub and associated aviation business.

However, the land is owned by Stone Hill Park which has submitted a planning application to create up to 3,700 homes, business and leisure and associated infrastructure.


One of the major questions posed has been how the project, which RSP say will cost in the region of £306 million, will be funded and by whom.

RSP says the airport project has “attracted significant interest from a wide range of further institutional investors based in the UK, the Far East and North America.”

The company has not named the investors, saying this is due to: “unavoidable constraints of commercial confidentiality, particularly in the context where private individuals are involved in funding the project and investing in major infrastructure.”

RSP says it will provide examiners with a statement identifying the individuals who have invested and are committed to further investment, together with a version where the confidential information is redacted. They want a redacted version to be made available to the public.

SHP, who would be forced to relinquish the site if the DCO is granted, has accused RSP of a ‘Wild West’ approach to the examination.

The SHP response says: “The applicant has consistently failed to provide the examination with the requested information. In its answer, the applicant appears to be advocating for a “Wild West” approach, whereby any legitimate concerns and the ExA’s commitments to openness, transparency and impartiality should be put to one side so as not to risk investment in the UK from anonymous “non-dom” investors. These “investors” are seeking to deprive another party of its land.”

RSP say: “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 suggests that if examiners do not wish to take information into account that is not openly available “then it leaves the issue to the Secretary of State to decide.”

SHP has branded that suggestion as “ludicrous” and demonstrating “arrogance.”

Revised costs

A revised funding statement submitted by RSP is an updated version of the original made in July 2018.

Changes have been made to the costs, with the submission now stating:

Noise mitigation costs have been reassessed as £3.85m rather than £5.6m;

Construction costs have been reassessed as £306m rather than £300m;

The first phase of construction has been reassessed as £180m rather than £100m.

Capital funding

On the question of capital funding the RSP statement says “RiverOak Investments (UK) M.I.O Investments Limited (“RIUMIO”) is a UK registered company whose ultimate beneficial owners are resident in Switzerland and the United Kingdom. RIUMIO is managed and administered by Helix Fiduciary AG, a Swiss registered and regulated fiduciary company on behalf of the beneficial owners.

“Helix also manages and controls all the investors’ funds that provide the funding for the Manston DCO.”

It adds that a revised joint venture agreement has “access to committed and unencumbered funds to fund compulsory acquisition and noise mitigation required by the DCO (totalling £11.35m, but in fact £15 million has been committed).”

The statement says: “Full cost of the project will be met by private sector investors once the DCO is granted, “ but adds “such details cannot yet be finalised.”

RSP says: “It is important to note that the funding of the project is not dependent on any public funding, government subsidy or guarantee, or any access to borrowing or grants from UK or European funds.

“Should the project receive development consent, RiverOak can immediately draw down the land acquisition and noise mitigation costs from its current funders under the terms of its joint venture agreement. To meet the capital costs of construction, RiverOak will select one or more funders from amongst those who have already expressed interest and others that are likely to come forward, to secure the best deal for constructing and operating the project.”

An explanatory letter has been provided by Helix about its role in the funding of the project, together with a confirmatory letter from PwC, dated July 2018, although the Helix letter is not currently visible on the published document.

Revised costs for the initial phase of the project are £186 million; developing the remaining phases of the project over a 15-year period £120 million,  making a total of £306 million.

RSP say so far, £15.92 million has been expended on the DCO process.

‘No assets, no intrinsic value’

Landowners SHP say the revised Funding Statement “is wholly underwhelming and adds nothing of any substance that would allow the applicant’s application to be fairly and adequately tested.”

The firm says there are no assets in RiverOak Operations Ltd and the shares have no intrinsic value. It adds: “It is important to note that all the funding has been provided by the Belize based MIO Investments Ltd on which no relevant information has been provided. The applicant intends that MIO will continue to provide funding but provides no evidence to support its assertion.”

SHP has also questioned the status of RSP holding companies as to whether they are dormant or trading, saying they appear to be put forward as both. They have also raised questions about the separation of liabilities and assets in RSP’s subsidiary companies -one of which holds the title for the Jentex site which RSP acquired for £2,418,185 in September 2018.

RSP says the companies are not dormant. The firm says RiverOak Investments (UK) Limited and RiverOak Manston Limited are holding companies that own  RSP Limited which holds 100% interest in four subsidiary companies; RiverOak AL Limited, RiverOak Operations Limited, RiverOak Fuels Limited and RiverOak MSE Limited.


M.I.O Investments Limited was the funding vehicle for the airport project. It held 90% of shares in the company but was registered in Belize.

RSP has since restructured to ditch the Belize connection with RiverOak Investments (UK) Ltd showing 400 shares in UK ownership. However, 600 shares are registered under HLX Nominees Ltd in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

SHP has criticised the move to a BVI, saying it provides no more transparency than the previous arrangement.

The restructure will be one of the areas examined during the June 4 hearing.

The hearing will also help examiners establish whether there is a compelling case in the public interest for the land to be acquired compulsorily, whether there are reasonable alternatives and whether agreement has been reached over plots of land that belong to the Crown.

Hearings for the Development Consent Order resume on June 3 at Laurence Suite, Building 500, Discovery Park, Sandwich.

Hearing 4

Landscape, design, archaeology and heritage

3 June, 2.00pm (seating available from 1.30pm)

Hearing 5

Socio-economic issues

5 June, 10.00am (seating available from 9.30am)

Hearing 6

Habitats Regulations Assessment, biodiversity and other environmental issues

5 June 2.00pm (seating available from 1.30pm)

Hearing 7

Traffic and transport

6 June, 10.00am (seating available from 9.30am)

Hearing 8

Draft Development Consent Order

7 June,10.00am (seating available from 9.30am)

Compulsory Acquisition Hearing 2

To include funding

4 June, 10.00am (seating available from 9.30am)”


Manston DCO: Planning Inspectorate does not commit to redact airport funder details

WNM Treasurer 07.05.2019

The issue of funding – and funders- as part of the Planning Inspectorate examination of a Development Consent Order application for the Manston airport site will be heard on June 4 .

The DCO bid is being made by firm RiverOak Strategic Partners with the aim of acquiring the site and creating a cargo hub and associated aviation business.

However, the land is owned by Stone Hill Park which has submitted a planning application to create up to 3,700 homes, business and leisure and associated infrastructure.

The Planning Inspectorate hearings opened in January and are due to conclude in July.

One of the major questions posed has been how the project, which RSP say will cost in the region of £300 million, will be funded and by whom.

Redacting evidence

A letter published on the Planning Inspectorate website on Friday (May 3) now reveals that RSP has requested evidence submitted about backers for the scheme be redacted on publication.

The request was sent on behalf of RSP on April 5 by BDB Pitmans LLP.

The request asked the examining body whether it would agree to receive information on the companies that are interested in investing in the airport, including their names and also correspondence that had been exchanged with them, in unredacted and redacted form on the understanding that only the redacted form would be published.

However, a letter from lead examining panel member Kelvin MacDonald, says redacting that evidence cannot be guaranteed.

The letter says: “The Planning Inspectorate does redact submissions in certain circumstances. This is done, for example, to protect the identity of a minor, to seek to avoid identity fraud and to avoid placing personal contact or other details in the public domain.

“The Planning Inspectorate will apply its practice on redaction to any submission made to it. It will consider the need for and merits of redaction of submissions made on a case by case basis. The redaction of submissions must be seen in the context of the fundamental values of the Planning Inspectorate which are its commitment to openness, transparency and impartiality in the conduct of its business.

“Given this, the Planning Inspectorate cannot commit in advance to redacting specific information as requested by any party. For this reason, the ExA in this case cannot agree to examine evidence sent to it on the basis that the unredacted version of that evidence will not be published.”

The response says procedure means: “Relevant representations, written representations or documents must be made available by the Commission to all interested parties and to anyone who requests an opportunity to inspect and take copies of them.”

RSP has said caution is due because information about funders was previously leaked into the public domain despite being commercially sensitive.


Previous concerns centred on the use of funding vehicle M.I.O Investments Limited, which held 90% of shares in the company but is registered in Belize.

RSP has restructured to ditch the Belize connection with RiverOak Investments (UK) Ltd showing 400 shares in UK ownership. However, 600 shares are registered under HLX Nominees Ltd in the British Virgin Islands.

The funding source questions were due to be answered by deadline one, January 18

The funding statement submitted on behalf of RSP laid out predicted costs of the project as £100 million for the first phase -updated to £186 million -, with the cost of developing the remaining phases of the project over a 15-year period estimated to be an additional £200 million, i.e. a total of circa £300 million.

It says compensation for the compulsory take over of the Manston airport site would be “no more than £7.5 million.”

RSP’s latest submission says the firm has spent £13million on the project to date.

Hearings for the Development Consent Order resume on June 3 at Laurence Suite, Building 500, Discovery Park, Sandwich.


A revised noise mitigation plan has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) for the latest deadline in the Development Consent Order examination for the Manston airport site.

The firm is applying for the DCO in order to purchase the land and create an air freight cargo hub and associated businesses.   However, the land is owned by Stone Hill Park which has submitted a planning application to create up to 3,700 homes, business and leisure and associated infrastructure.

The Planning Inspectorate hearings opened in January and are due to conclude in July.

Major issues to be examined include noise and night flights.

RSP noise mitigation

In the revised mitigation plan RSP say the airport will be subject to a total annual air transport movement limit of 26,468 with a General Aviation movement limit of 38,000. The proposal is for an annual quota during the Night Time Period (11pm-7am) of 3028 movements.

The site would have an overall operating capability of 83,220 movements per annum.

RSP data predicts 33 Air Transport Movements (ATMs) and approximately 16 non ATMs on a typical busy day in all years. In Year 20 there is predicted to be 72 ATMs during a typical busy day and 7 ATMs on a typical busy night.

Measurements in the RSP report say a significant adverse noise level is measured at 63db (decibels) during the day flying period, 55db at night or 80db for more than 18 nightly events.

Anything 69db and over is labelled as an unacceptable level. Aircraft noise is measured by a quota count of Effective perceived noise in decibels (EPNdB).

Lowest is 84 – 86.9 EPNdB with a 0.25 quota count whilst the top end is 96 – 98.9 EPNdB with a quota count of 4;  99 – 101.9 EPNdB quota 8 and anything greater than 101.9 EPNdB equalling a count of 16.

RSP says it will limit noise impacts by introducing the cap on annual air transport movements at the airport  and with the use of a night-time ‘noise quota’, common at other UK airports, where aircraft are given an independently assessed score known as a quota count according to how noisy they are. An annual quota is imposed on aircraft movements. This provides control over the total amount of noise from aircraft.

Other measures will be:

  • A scheduled night flight ban between the hours of 2300 and 0600
  • A ban on the noisiest aircraft (with quota count 8 or 16) at night
  • A noise insulation scheme for residential properties
  • A noise insulation scheme for sensitive non-residential buildings
  • A commitment to regular and ongoing consultation with schools
  • A purchase and relocation assistance scheme for residential properties
  • A clear and transparent process for identifying eligibility for noise insulation, purchase or relocation
  • Annual reporting on matters relating to noise
  • The establishment of a Community Consultative Committee and a Community Trust Fund (which will receive funding from the airport operator under the plan;
  • A ban on routine training flights other than for General Aviation
  • A ban on open field testing of jet engines at night
  • Reverse thrust limitation procedures
  • Low power / Low drag approach procedures
  • Monitoring of noise levels from aircraft and fines for noisy aircraft
  • Fines for aircraft that stray from approved flightpaths without good reason

Emergency flights and flights operated by relief organisations for humanitarian reasons will not count towards the quota.

The report says the airport operator will seek to operate take-offs from Runway 28 and landings on Runway 10 as a method of reducing noise over built up areas.


The document lays out plans for payments due to noise mitigation estimated at insulation policy and Part I claims: £4m for up to 1000 properties at £4000 each and relocation costs of £1.6m for up to eight properties.

Measures will include secondary glazing, high performance double glazing, roof insulation, sound insulated doors; and mechanical ventilation.

The document says the airport operator will provide reasonable levels of noise insulation and ventilation for schools and community buildings within the 60 dB LAeq (16 hour) day time contour.

A purchase and relocation assistance scheme will mean the airport operator buying the property for its market value and  giving relocation assistance payments of £5,000; and 2.5% of the purchase price for the property up to a maximum of £15,000.


In its document RSP says: “RiverOak Strategic Partners Limited (‘RiverOak’) has always been aware that the issue of noise created by the operation of a redeveloped Manston Airport would be one of the issues of principal concern for the residents of the districts of Thanet and Canterbury.

“RiverOak understands those concerns and wishes to offer a range of commitments on future noise related activities at the airport in the form of a Noise Mitigation Plan. The commitments are designed to provide clarity to residents and reduce their concerns to the extent possible.”

No Night Flights: ‘Sound levels’

Campaign group No Night Flights says noise from night time crafts could reach more than 85db, saying: “RSP are proposing allowing 747-400 aircraft to operate at night and we know from authenticated historical data that these will produce a noise footprint of over 85 dB (max) affecting most Ramsgate residents, plus many living in the St Nicholas conservation area and in the Reculver/Beltinge areas.

“The evidence shows that the applicant will be subjecting over 30,000 people to sound levels much greater than the threshold for “onset of potential sleep disturbance”. Yet the applicant appears to want permission not to count the first 17 times he does this each night. Nor has he provided the contours which the professional bodies say would be most revealing of the extent of the disturbance at night caused by his proposed development.”

The No Night Flight  submission adds: “According to RSP’s business plan, and the metrics they have chosen, nobody will be woken by aircraft noise in the first 20 years of Manston operating as a 24/7 freight hub. Of course, reality is different, as the complaints made to KIACC (Kent International Airport Consultative Committee) when the airport was open attest. Just one 747-400 night flight in a night caused awakenings and resulted in complaints.”

No Night Flights say historically airport operators have sought permission for scheduled night flights despite there being available day time capacity, saying that they could not attract cargo business without them.

The group say they fear quota count 4 aircraft will be used at night and any air movement caps could be overturned.

They add: “The absence of an explicit ban on planned night flights in the application and the proposal for a negotiable quota tend to suggest the applicant’s intention to prop up an airport operation at Manston by capturing the bottom end of the freight market – noisy QC4 night flights banned at the majority of other UK airports.”


Noise will be the subject of an issue specific hearing for the DCO to be held on March 22 at Laurence Suite, Building 500, Discovery Park. Doors open at 9.30am, hearing starts at 10am.”


“Dear Members and Supporters.
Attached is the latest information regarding the latest on RSP DCO.   

Application by RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd for an Order Granting

Development Consent for the upgrade and reopening of Manston Airport

The Infrastructure Planning (Examination Procedure)

Kelvin MacDonald has been appointed by the Secretary of State as the lead member of a panel who will be the Examining Authority tasked to examine the DCO application from RiverOak. 

Why Not Manston? submitted representations and have been invited to the Preliminary meeting to discuss the examination.

We are pleased to say that our Chairman Angela Sutton, and other members of the committee, will be attending this meeting on: Wednesday 9 January 2019 at Margate Winter Gardens. 

We shall keep you informed of further developments.

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Why Not Manston Committee”


Representations published and panel selected for next stage of Manston Development Consent Order bid

October 26, 2018 Kathy Bailes Isle of Thanet News

Manston airport site

Just over 2,000 representations have been made by Thanet residents and by organisations and businesses in response to a Development Consent Order application submitted by the firm hoping to bring aviation back to the Manston airport site.

RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) resubmitted its application for the DCO on July 16 after withdrawing a previous submission.

The DCO seeks development consent and compulsory acquisition powers over the land. It is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). This includes energy, transport, water and waste projects.

The DCO application was originally submitted to the government Planning Inspectorate (PINS) at the beginning of April. It was withdrawn in early May after PINS’ requested further information about parts of the application. These related to funding, to the categorisation of the project as being of national significance, and to aspects of the supporting environmental statements.

The resubmitted application was accepted for the pre-examination stage by the Planning Inspectorate in August.

Among the representations made to the Planning Inspectorate are submissions from the Ministry of Defence, Historic England, Highways England, Dover and Thanet district councils, Kent County Council and a document from law firm Pinsent Masons on behalf of landowner Stone Hill Park.

SHP objection

In the document SHP say the report, by Azimuth Associates, putting forward RSP’s case was ‘deeply flawed.’

Pinsent Masons also question the validity of any backing from Thanet council. Saying: “ TDC has a troubled history of dispute between Members and officers, with Members seeking to overrule evidence led professional advice from its officer team.”

The submission adds: “SHP objects to the inclusion of the SHP Land and its interests within the scope of compulsory acquisition powers in the proposed DCO.

“SHP has a realistic and viable development proposal for much needed housing and mixed use development, whereas RSP’s proposal is, at best , speculative but with no realistic prospect of a long term viable operation.”

Backing from Dover

The submission from Dover District Council supports the DCO application, saying: “DDC welcomes and offers its full support to RiverOak Strategic Partners’ (RSP) proposal to re-open Manston Airport as an operational freight-focused airport and recognises the positive contribution it would make to the regeneration of the East Kent economy, as well as the UK’s aviation economy.”

Mixed messages from Thanet councillors

Thanet council says: “Thanet District Council does not object to this development of the airport for aviation and has made significant efforts to support a functioning aviation use on the site,” adding issues, such as the Draft Local Plan, need to be taken into consideration.

However, a submission from Thanet’s UKIP and Independent Group alliance objects to the proposal, stating: “It is the contention of the UKIP and Independent group on Thanet District Council that the RSP application to PINS for a Development Consent Order for the Manston Airport site lacks the necessary coherence, evidence, and credibility to gain approval and create a genuinely functioning aviation operation which could be tolerated by the local community.”

Wildlife, heritage and public health

Kent Wildlife Trust raises concerns in its submission about the impact on species and habitats, at the site and immediately surrounding area while Historic England submits worries over the “risk of potential harm to heritage assets.”

Public Health England said it welcomed the work already carried out but would like more evidence in areas such as sleep disturbance and noise mitigation.

Parish council support

The revived airport plan has received backing in submissions from Cliffsend Parish Council and Minster Parish Council although the latter adds: “We seek assurance that night flights will be kept to a minimum.”

Representations by the public have also been made and appear to be fairly evenly split between objections and support.

Political responses

South Thanet Labour parliamentary hopeful Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt submitted a representation raising concerns over night flights and noise mitigation.

In regards to the submissions she said: “I’m impressed that over 2,000 submissions were made to PINs as part of the DCO application process. This shows a high level of engagement on the part of our community. I understand that just under 50% of responses were in favour and just over 50% were against the proposal to operate a cargo hub at Manston.

“In the course of my work, I meet many people on both sides of the argument, and I look forward to reading some of the responses. My main objective is to make sure that the people of Thanet are best served by any eventual plan for the Manston site.”

Sir Roger Gale 

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale’s submission supports the DCO application. In it he says: “At all elections at every level of Government since the announced closure of Manston Airport there has been a clear and overwhelming local mandate for the re-opening of Manston for aviation and related businesses.

“I myself have campaigned on and supported this platform in the strong belief that Manston represents a unique piece of national infrastructure that is needed in the national interest now, will be needed in the future and that, if lost, cannot be recreated. ”

Panel and next steps

An Examining Authority panel has now been selected, consisting of Martin Broderick, Jonathan Hockley, Kelvin MacDonald and Jonathan Manning as panel members with Kelvin MacDonald as the Lead Member of the panel.

A Preliminary Meeting, run and chaired by the Examining Authority, will now be arranged.

Once the application moves on to Phase 4 (Examination) there is a maximum of 12 months for the Secretary of State to make a decision on whether to approve the DCO to reopen Manston airport.

RSP proposal

RSP’s plan for Manston includes an international cargo hub, as well as offering passenger flights.

RSP has a four phase plan across 15 years to create 19 new air cargo stands, update the runway, four new passenger aircraft stands and updated passenger terminal, refurbished fire station and new fire training area, aircraft recycling facility, flight training school, hangars for aircraft related business, highway improvements and the creation of a museum quarter.

Stone Hill Park plans

The site is owned by Stone Hill Park (SHP) which has submitted an enhanced application to Thanet council for homes, business and leisure to be developed at the airport site.

The documents, published on the Thanet council website, outline plans for up to 4,000 homes,  46,000 sq m of advanced/hi-tech employment space which SHP say will provide up to 2,000 direct jobs with 9,000 further jobs created over the course of the project, including construction and jobs in the supply chain for the wider area.

Plans include a heritage airport with an operational runway; public parks an East Kent Sports Village with facilities including Kent’s first 50m Olympic sized swimming pool and a WaveGarden surf lake; schools, a food store, cafes/restaurants, a 120-bed hotel and a health centre.

A decision on the application is yet to be made.

NB A submission was made by WNM

RiverOak Strategic Partners completes Jentex acquisition

Published on September 18th, 2018

RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) completed the acquisition of the Jentex site on Canterbury Road West in Ramsgate, which is designated in our proposals as the location of the airport fuel facility.

The Jenkins family, which has operated the site for many years as a fuel oil business, will continue to do so until the conclusion of the DCO – after which they will become the operators of the new fuel facility

As a condition of the sale of the land to RSP, the Jenkins family required us to help them ensure the planning permission for an extra-care sheltered housing scheme on the land remained current, which RSP is happy to do and has worked with them to submit a new planning application to replace the previous consent. This condition will fall away when the DCO is granted.

George Yerrall, Director of RSP, said: “The Jenkins family is a pleasure to deal with and I am delighted we are building a long term relationship with them. We have always been clear that we want local businesses to share in the success of reopening Manston and I hope this is the first of many such relationships we will forge with businesses across Thanet and East Kent.”

Added Tony Jenkins: “We have always been huge supporters of Manston and look forward to seeing it reopen. I take real pride in the knowledge that our family will be able to apply our 55 years of experience, in running Jentex, to the challenges of building and operating the new airport fuel facility – and I look forward to the next steps in the DCO.”

Thanet District Council vote Local Plan to be published for comment then submission

 July 19, 2018 (Source SuMA)

At the Extraordinary Thanet District Council meeting this evening, after a heated and passionate debate from all sides, the Local Plan, including Option 2 for Manston, was voted through by 31 votes to 21.

Option 2 once, and if, adopted will see the airport reserved for aviation use only for two years to allow for a DCO or CPO to be progressed to a definitive conclusion.

Option 2 will not however, continue the existing Policy EC4 which protects the aviation only use of the airport.

Option 2 diverts the housing allocation of 2,500 previously earmarked for Manston to Birchington, Westgate, Westwood, Hartsdown and Minster.

If after two years there is still no aviation solution, the Local Plan will be revised and the airport will likely be allocated as mixed use.


Watch this space for developing news…

Thanet District Council Cabinet votes for option to relocate 2,500 home allocation and to drop policies protecting Manston Airport

 July 2, 2018 

(Source:Support Manston Airport Association (SuMA) website


At Thanet District Council’s extraordinary Cabinet meeting tonight, the three Conservative Cabinet members present went against the officer’s recommendation and voted for option 2; an option to take forward the draft Local Plan that had previously stalled back in January.

Option 2 was detailed in the meeting agenda:

If Members are not minded to follow that recommendation (Option 1, the option to allocate Manston Airport for mixed-use), to proceed to Publication/Submission with a draft Plan that does not allocate the Airport for mixed-use development and meets the housing requirement for the period to 2031 on other sites.

Draft Policy SP05 would be deleted and replaced with text that recognises the existing use of the Airport and acknowledges the current Development Consent Order (DCO) process for the site. This also provides the opportunity for any other interested parties to pursue the operational use of the airport through agreement with the landowners or through becoming an indemnity partner as part of a potential CPO process with the Council. The statement regarding existing use is not a policy statement; it is simply a recognition of the current planning status of the site. This also means that current Policy EC4 (and other Airport-related policies) would not be continued or replaced with equivalent policies in the new Local Plan.

In the event that a DCO or CPO is not accepted or granted, or does not proceed, the Council will need to consider the best use for this site (including housing), in the next Local Plan review.

Next Steps

The next stage will be for the decision to go before the Executive, Policy & Community Safety Scrutiny Panel (formerly the Overview and Scrutiny Panel) on Wednesday 11th July where councillors will have a further opportunity to speak.

The Panel will either accept the decision, in which case it will go straight to a Full Council vote on 19th July or reject it, in which case it will go back to Cabinet again before going to full Council on the same day. After the plan is voted through there will be a six-week consultation before it is submitted to the Planning Inspector for public examination.




The Planning Inspectorate called the Applicant’s legal representatives (BDB Law) on 1 May 2018, setting out its principal concerns in respect of the application documents. Those concerns included: 

• An absence of sufficient information within the application documents upon which to the Planning Inspectorate could base a decision about whether the Proposed Development constitutes a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) within the meaning in s23 of the Planning Act 2008. 


• Gaps in the ecological, archaeological and ground investigation survey data presented within the Environmental Statement (ES) accompanying the application, which create uncertainty in the assessment of likely significant effects. 

• Inconsistencies/ omissions in the noise and vibration assessment. 

• The adequacy of the Transport Assessment accompanying the ES. 

• The adequacy of the Funding Statement. 

On 3 May 2018 a teleconference was held between the Planning Inspectorate, BDB Law and RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP). During this teleconference the Planning Inspectorate repeated its principal concerns (above) in the presence of RSP, who confirmed their intention to withdraw the application. Subsequently the application was formally withdrawn by letter dated 4 May 2018.

Jan Revell
Hon. Treasurer
Why Not Manston?

Thanet Extra
15th January 2015


Isle of Thanet Gazette

Gale`s View – 16 July, 2014.


Ms Gloag has one very considerable achievement to her name. In the desire to see Manston re-open as an operational airport and in opposition to her plans to build a housing estate on the site she has united Thanet in a way that few would f have thought possible. There are, of course, a few people who are opposed to Manston airport and there are still a few local politicians who remain determinedly out of step with public opinion for reasons about which we can only speculate but for the overwhelming majority there is now a desire and a determination to see planes using the runway once again.


One skirmish does not, of course, win a war. Nevertheless, the cross-party support given last week to the proposition that Thanet`s Cabinet should be given the power to seek a Compulsory Purchase Order is significant. Friday`s march and next Saturday`s meeting underscore popular support for that action and in a week`s time a petition will be presented to Downing Street also calling for government`s continued support for what we all regard as a national asset that cannot and should not be allowed to be destroyed in the interests of corporate greed.


There will be further developments this week as Thanet`s Cabinet continue their deliberations. They need our support and, so far as Laura and I are concerned they know that they have it, and they will need the financial backing of the identified business partner to provide and under-write the resources that the Council simply does not have. The political will, though, is there, and although it will take more time than most of us would have wished – realistically probably the best part of a year – I hold to the view that if we remain united then we can and will succeed in rescuing Manston in the national and in the local interest.




Manston Airport – Minister pledges help with licensing issues


The Aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill, has told the House of Commons that the department of Transport is “more than happy to help with any Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) licensing issues” relating to the future of Manston Airport.


Commenting on remarks made by North Thanet`s MP, Sir Roger Gale, during a debate on Regional Airports the Minister said that “the tale of Manston is, I am afraid, rather an unhappy one so far although I am heartened by the fact that the local authority (TDC) is looking into what it can do and I spoke to the Leader of the Council last week”.


During the debate Sir Roger had reminded the House of Manston`s history saying that: “It (Manston) was acquired by Ann Gloag of Stagecoach on 30thNovember last year. Mrs. Gloag told me on that date that she intended to invest heavily and give the airport two years. On budget Day, less than four months after the acquisition, she announced that it would close. That was in my view an act of vandalism. Manston shut in May in spite of the fact that RiverOak had put on the table an offer of the asking price of £7 million. Since that time the airport has been asset-stripped.”


Sir Roger continued:


“My Hon. Friend the Member for Thanet South (Laura Sandys) and I met with Sir Howard Davies (who is conducting a review of runway capacity in the South East) recently. He rightly said that while Manston was not under consideration as a hub airport he thought that the south-east would need all the runway capacity on offer and then some. In that context, again, we cannot afford to lose Manston.


Thanet`s controlling Labour Group proposed to give to the Cabinet powers to seek a compulsory purchase order last week. That proposition was seconded by the leader of the Conservative Opposition and it has the full support of Laura Sandys and me. I hope that it will, if necessary, have the support of Government. We expect that a CPO decision will be taken by Thanet`s cabinet by the end of the month. We think, with Thanet and, I believe, the nation that airfield has the potential to serve the Country as a freight hub and we want it to be re-opened for that purpose”


And the MP added: “ The Select Committee on Transport has, I understand, agreed to undertake an inquiry into the whole business of regional airports and I hope that as part of that process evidence will be taken from Manston and also, perhaps, from Mrs. Gloag in person who would, I am sure, be delighted to appear before the Select Committee and to explain her actions”.


 Iris Johnson (Thanet District Council Labour Leader)…
It is with great anger that we have heard this afternoon that Ann Gloag has today rejected an improved renewed bid from RiverOak.  And the incredulous reason given is that most of the staff have already found new jobs.  Apart from believing that to be untrue, what reason is that for not selling?     Just another excuse and one that really highlights she has no intention of selling but wants to develop and asset strip.  
Congratulations to Iris Johnston for her comment on Meridien this evening that ”there will be no housing on the site”.  Let’s hope Ann Gloag hears that!
(For those who may not have heard – Iris became the new Labour leader of TDC yesterday following Clive Hart’s recent resignation.  A vote is due to be held tomorrow to decide if Ms Johnson will become the next Thanet District Council leader, which is minority Labour-led).
Back to the point of Ann Gloag’s claim that most of the staff leaving tomorrow have already found new jobs……..  Suzy Gale has sent the following:
Suzy Gale…
Meridian TV here in the South East have been putting out a story, perhaps passed to them by the Airport owners (?) saying that most of the current staff at Manston have already got new jobs.
If you work at Manston, know of anyone working at Manston or own or are involved in a company based at Manston and you wish to rectify a story that appears to be untrue, then please go on Facebook, Twitter etc. to give your position and to stress that we want to keep Manston open and viable.
You may also wish to contact Meridian at:
Please do feel free, if you wish, to pass on this information and email address.
Save Manston Group…
And the Save Manston group are doing a survey on their Facebook page asking staff if they have or have not found jobs, so if you work or know someone who works at the airport, please participate in this survey.
You may see that a new petition has been launched to keep open the operating licence of Manston.  At this time I don’t have full details on what is involved and have heard that Sir Roger has spoken to the relevant Minister and been told a licence would be granted, but it won’t do any harm in signing, so if you wish to do so, please go to:
Sir Roger Gale (at PMQs)…
Today, to a packed House, Sir Roger Gale raised the question of Manston at Prime Minister’s Question Time.  Here is the transcript and the PM’s response:
Sir Roger Gale:  “Mr Speaker, at the end of November, Mrs Ann Gloag, a director the stage coach company acquired Manston airport in my constituency for £1. On budget day this year Mrs Gloag announced that she was going into consultation with a view to closing an airport that is worth hundreds of jobs, is a major diversion field, and a search and rescue base. Mr Speaker, since then my Hon friend the member for south Thanet and I have sought to find a buyer. Last night the RiverOak company of Connecticut who already have airport interest put in an enhanced and realistic offer to keep Manston open save the jobs and develop the business. At present the owners are reluctant to negotiate.  Mr Speaker, I don’t expect my right honourable friend to engage in commercial negotiations, but will he seek to ensure the CAA Operating license remains open, that Manston remains open,  and that further discussion are held and will he encourage those discussions to take place”.
PM’s response: “I know that my honourable friend has been fighting very hard with the honourable member for Thanet South about the future of Manston airport. And recognises that it has played an important role in the local economy and employed local people. Ultimately the future of Manston remains the responsibility of the of the airport owner…but… I do think its important that the government is engaged and I know my right honourable friend the Transport Secretary IS engaged.  He will be speaking to Mrs Gloag about this issue and, also contacting RiverOak, the potential purchasers.  In the end they have to make a commercial decision but the government will do everything it can to help.”
Spread the word - save the airport