Newsletter – 20th March 2017


20th March 2017


You may have heard or read about RiverOak Strategic Partners and are wondering how this is different to RiverOak.

A UK registered company is required to hold an airport licence so that was the main reason for the creation of RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) Ltd (ie RiverOak UK) being formed.

The three main directors are Tony Freudmann, George Yerrell and Niall Lawlor.  In addition there are three Swiss directors who are fund managers based in Zurich representing the various investors providing the money for the RiverOak development of Manston and all the current expenses necessary for the DCO.

Steve de Nardo of RiverOak (USA) suggested the new directors buy him out as he has many other projects in the USA and has not been to the UK for two years now and does not have the time to dedicate to the project and is not really required anyway as the funding is coming through the three Swiss directors.   George Yerrall is the person from RiverOak USA  who has been the one involved to date so it makes sense for him to now be part of the newly formed company.

George still has an office in RiverOak USA offices and there has been no fall-out.     So there is no justification in the ‘rumour’ of RiverOak USA not wanting to be involved.   It is that a UK registered company is needed in order to proceed.


Work on the DCO is proceeding but a lot of research, reports and documentation is required and all this takes time.  It is expected the DCO will be submitted by the end of the summer with a decision expected by the end of 2018.

Part of the DCO process requires RSP to hold public consultations.  These are expected to take place over a 10 – 14 day period in June and as soon as dates and locations are finalized, they will be sent out to you.

The public consultations that were held previously were not part of the DCO process but simply arranged by RiverOak to keep the public informed of their plans.


Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, was amongst a group of senior MPs and industry representatives briefed by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) on their plans for Manston Airport.
The event took place on was hosted by Sir Roger Gale MP in the House of Commons and, in addition to Ms Ellman, there were a number of senior parliamentarians including: Robert Flello MP (Member of the Transport Select Committee, and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Freight Transport), Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP (Chair, APPG on Trade and Investment), Sir Gerald Howarth MP (President, APPG on General Aviation) and Sir Julian Brazier MP (Member for Canterbury and Whitstable).

In addition to parliamentarians, the event was attended by a range of industry organisations including London First, the Freight Transport Association, and the Airport Operators Association.

George Yerrall, director of RSP said: “Every year the UK economy loses more than £2 billion due to air cargo capacity constraints in the south east airports system. This is set to rise to £3.9 billion by 2050, even with a third runway at Heathrow. Manston can provide the answer and this was a valuable opportunity to brief Ms Ellman and some of her senior Parliamentary colleagues that take an interest in aviation and freight.  RSP was able to set out why we are confident that, with the right commercial appetite, investment and operation, Manston has a promising future as a vibrant hub for international airfreight – one which delivers much needed runway capacity in the south east, boosts economic prosperity and employment across Kent and protects a strategic aviation resource for the nation.”


A Public Inquiry into the change of use of four buildings at Manston Airport took place in the TDC offices from 14th – 17th March 2017.

The following is a brief summary.  If you would like more information, please contact us and we will send you a much more detailed report.

The following has been taken from “The Isle of Thanet News” http://www.theisleofthanetnews .com/the-manston-change-of-use -public-inquiry-has-opened/ and posts on Supporters of Manston Airport website.

Day 1 – 14th March 2017

The inquiry is being conducted by government inspector Matthew Nunn.
The morning saw opening submissions from
Neil King QC, for developers Stone Hill Park (Lothian Shelf);
Suzanne Ornsby QC for RiverOak Strategic Partners
and a statement from
Iain Livingstone, Thanet Council Planning Applications Manager.

Submissions were also given by
Dr Beau Webber, on behalf of Save Manston Airport Association,
Roz McIntyre for No Night Flights
Christopher Cain – Aviation Expert

In the afternoon, the inquiry heard from Dr  Sally Dixon, and George Yerrall on behalf of RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd. the company applying for a Development Consent Order from the government in order to compulsory purchase the site and return it to aviation use – and planning expert Nick Alston for SHP – the landowner with proposals to develop the site for housing and business space.

The inquiry heard that Thanet council has withdrawn its objection to the applications following a report by Avia Solutions into the site’s viability to continue as an airport.  The report, commissioned by TDC, concluded that it was “very unlikely to be financially viable long term and almost certainly not possible in the period to 2031.”

Mr Livingston told the inquiry that in the light of this information it was decided refusal was not reasonable and that a policy covering the site (EC4) to retain it for aviation use only now held “less weight.”

However, Suzanne Ornsby QC, for RiverOak, said the decision must be made in line with the EC4 policy that protects aviation use at the site. She told the inquiry that to agree to other uses was against national policy as there is a reasonable prospect of the airport reopening.

Day 2 – 15th March 2017

Submissions were heard from:

Angela Schembri, Planning Director at RPS Group, called by RiverOak Strategic Partners, including cross-examination by Stone Hill Park representative, Mr King.
Mr Allston called by Stone Hill Park in regard to planning.

Both parties, RSP and SHP, submitted new documents to the Public Inquiry today.
RSP have submitted Dover District Council’s objection to the Local Plan.

SHP have submitted documents refuting evidence regarding the empty business premises listed in the appendices of Angela Schembri’s evidence.

The Inspector was not particularly impressed at the late submissions as he is ‘drowning in paperwork’ but he will accept.

Day 3 – 16th March 2017

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale has branded the attempt to bring the building out of aviation use as “mischievous” saying he believed the aim was to frustrate the attempts of RiverOak Strategic Partners to reopen the airport for primarily cargo use in the event of a successful DCO application to Central Government.

Sir Roger said RSP has resources to carry out the plan.  He told the inquiry: “The new business plan put forward for the airport is very different from those that have been tried before. The investment needed, and secured, is very much greater than anything put into Manston before, somewhere north of £150m I believe.  “The alternative is blue sky plans that will create a few construction jobs and not much else.”  Sir Roger said he believed the change of use applications were: “designed to frustrate redevelopment and reopening of Manston because the four applications are for non-aviation use and it is proposed that two buildings will be demolished.”

Sir Roger said there was adequate employment space at Discovery Park. He said the isle has 17 hectares of available business space, double the projected need, and some of this space was directly adjacent to the airport site.
Sir Roger criticised the Avia Solutions report which deemed aviation at Manston to be unviable in the future saying they had worked from a fixed conclusion and had little knowledge of the airfield or its history.  He said: “I was not impressed by the strength of their case or the intellect behind it.”   He added: “Once a facility like Manston is gone it can never be recreated again.  “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create facilities needed in the UK to serve our business interests post-Brexit.”

The inquiry also heard from Manston parish councillor Rex Goodban, opposing the appeal, and Nick Alston, for SHP.

Day 4 (Final) – 17th March 2017

The final day of the inquiry saw the following:

▪    Site visit to Manston Airport.
▪    Oral evidence by Sue Girdler of TG Aviation.
▪    Discussion of conditions that could be attached to a decision to approve the appeals, should that be the result.
▪    Summary by Suzanne Ornsby QC on behalf of RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd.
▪    Summary by Mr Neil King QC on behalf of Stone Hill Park Ltd.

The Planning Inspector will now be going through the vast amount of information he has and has heard. He will also consult with his own legal representatives and is expected to report with his verdict in 6 to 8 weeks”.
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