The firm aiming to bring aviation back to Manston airport is to delay submission of its Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Government until the New Year.
RiverOak Strategic Partners is proposing to reopen Manston airport as an air freight hub with associated business aviation and passenger services, which they say will create almost 30,000 jobs by the airport’s 20th year of operation.
The company had planned to submit an application for a DCO to the Planning Inspectorate by the end of this month in a bid to gain a compulsory purchase of the site. It bought out the DCO rights from the original proposing company RiverOak corporation last December.
But that date will now been delayed to allow for more public consultation.
In a statement released by Manston airport supporter MP Sir Roger Gale it is revealed that concerns from those who live under the flightpath in South Thanet and Herne Bay have prompted the additional public roadshows.
Sir Roger said: “ RiverOak Strategic Partnership are planning to invest in and open at Manston a state-of-the art cargo hub and freight handling facility, a passenger service, provision for general aviation and ancillary aviation-related businesses that, taken as a whole, has the potential to create over time many thousands of skilled and semi-skilled jobs.
“As we leave the European Union that capacity to handle long-haul freight will be needed not just by Kent but by UK Limited and I remain entirely of the view that that is a prize worth supporting and fighting for and that is in sharp contrast to half-baked blue-sky proposals to create an environmentally damaging housing estate and additional unwanted industrial capacity..
“Nevertheless, I recognise the concerns that have been expressed by some of my constituents living in Herne Bay and by others living in Ramsgate.
“That is why, even at the risk of slightly delaying RiverOak`s application for the necessary Development Consent Order, I have strongly requested that the company goes out to further consultation with those living under the flightpath in Beltinge, Reculver and in South Thanet.
“It is important, I think, that those opposed to the re-opening of Manston airport , and I of course recognise that there is such a minority, are given every opportunity to appreciate the difference between the Environmental Impact Assessments carried out by RiverOak and what I believe to be the cavalier attitude towards the environmental damage that would be caused by a massive housing and industrial estate proposed by others.
“I hope and expect that such further consultation might be carried out in the New Year, leading to the submission of a DCO application in the early Spring.
“More haste can sometimes lead to less speed and it is essential that genuine, if mis-placed, concerns are, insofar as is possible, allayed.”
RSP: “DCO submission in the New Year”
RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd says it will now be making an application to the Secretary of State for Transport for a Development Consent Order in the New Year.
George Yerrall, from RSP, said: “We have been busy considering the 2,200 responses received to the consultation that took place in June and July 2017, which followed the non-statutory consultation in June 2016, and at the same time our plans have undergone further development. We are also taking the opportunity to update our environmental assessment in line with the latest EU Directive, in respect of which we will also welcome comments.”
The new consultation document will set out: a proposed noise mitigation plan – namely the specific commitments we propose to make to minimise aircraft noise impacts; the new areas of environmental assessment and where these can be found in the updated preliminary environmental information; and the details of where the plans have become more developed since the consultation in June/July 2017.
Responses will be sought on all these matters, but previous responses will continue to be considered and new responses can be made on any aspect of the project.
RiverOak will hold the events in Ramsgate and Herne Bay during January 2018, but anyone is welcome to respond to the consultation whether they attend an event or not. RSP also gives advance notice now that further consultation events will be held later in 2018 as part of the air space change proposal that it will be submitting to the CAA.
Further details of exact timings for the January events will follow.
Dr Beau Webber, Chairman, Save Manston Airport association (SMAa), said: “Today’s revelation that RSP will be carrying out targeted consultations about proposed flight paths demonstrates that they do listen to local residents.
“Although final agreement on flight paths will not take place until RSP and the CAA engage over the aerodrome licence, this clearly demonstrates the thoroughness with which RSP are approaching the whole DCO process. These consultations will set the scene for the proposals that RSP take into the discussions with PINS and the CAA.
“Although this will inevitably further delay the submission of the DCO application it is more important that all the “T”’s are crossed and “I”’s dotted before PINS start examining the application. We look forward to learning more details of the consultations in due course.”
The news comes just a day after RSP, and landowners Stone Hill Park, put forward an outline of rival plans for the Manston airport site to a Kent County Council committee.
Stone Hill Park, which plans to develop homes, a business park, sports village, heritage aircraft area and a country park at the site, held consultation events on its proposals this week.
During the county council presentation Louise Congdon, managing partner for York Aviation, said RSP had taken the company’s reports out of context.
She said: “That work was about assessing the case for a major new hub airport, passenger and freight traffic, to service London.”
She said the work did not support the case for aviation at Manston, saying RSP had “plucked numbers out of the middle of the report” without reading to the end.
Ms Condon added: “The only quantitative evidence of demand for air freight are those figures plucked from the middle of our report.
“Our work in its entirety does not support the case for a freight airport at Manston.”
In answer to the comments George Yerrall, from RSP, said: “At the Manston airport planning appeal inquiry in March 2017, no attempt was made by either TDC or SHP to justify Avia’s work or to challenge the reports of RSP’s two aviation experts where there was a clear opportunity to do so in front of a Planning Inspector.”