Firm hoping to bring aviation back to Manston airport confirms DCO delay

Manston airport photo Dean Spinks

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.

Sir Roger Gale MP

“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.

Photo John Horton

“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.

Supporters’ reaction

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.”

Rival plans

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.

York Aviation

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.”


  1. Can Sir Roger confirm that the Thanet residents who don’t want a cargo hub airport are in a minority?

    Why is Sir Roger issuing a statement on behalf of Riveroak? Have they not got a team of articulate professionals to represent them?

    Has Sir Roger weighed up carefully the environmental pros and cons of the two current possibilities for the large brownfield site which is currently not much more than a political football, or perhaps more of a hot potato?

    • Marva, you only have to look at the responses to SHP’s planning application Ref: OL/TH/16/0550 to see that it is only a tiny number of Thanet’s residents who do not want a cargo hub airport. Does that answer your question?

  2. The reality is that the owners of the land have written to the government (PINS) highlighting why such a DCO application is potentially illegal , weak in detail , no explanation why a newly formed company only carried out a low budget consultation and was economic of fact regarding the impact over Ramsgate and Herne Bay and other villages the harm and blight that a 24/7 freight hub would be.

  3. Fact is that the water supply for these so called houses would have a massive impact on Thanet. MOD I’m sure will have a large say in development for houses too.There is surely to be a lot of war related items that would need to be left alone underground that can’t be disturbed!

  4. That only tells me that most of the people who responded don’t want thousands of houses on the old airport site.

    • Marva, take a bit of time to read the responses of the people who have objected to SHP’s planning application and you will find that most of them also state that they are in favour of the airport being reopened.

  5. Marva, there is consistently 80% support for Manston reopening as an airport, whether that is as a cargo and passenger hub, or not. Residents of Thanet never wanted the airport to close and to have the opportunity with RiverOak to have huge investment ploughed into it, which has never happened before and why it previously failed, is an opportunity not to be missed. Thanet desperately needs good, permanent jobs, not more houses for people without creating good, permanent jobs, causing even more deprivation in the area and further strain on TDC’s resources.

    • Refreshing to see someone like Brian Bull who has learnt from history and see where future proposals could be wrong.In a more efficient Manston Airport our (Thanet) water supply from the airfield would be secured and desperately needed good quality jobs created. Too much focus on overpopulating at the moment instead of fighting government proposals. Any houses that are built in Thanet should be for the local inhabitants not people shipped in!

  6. Having lived in Thanet since 1943 I have seen all the various uses the airport has been put to and none of them has had any real impact on the area. The most productive times have always been cargo related and also training and light aircraft movements were very successful. Modern freight aircraft are not the old noisy things they were most of them are now purpose built and subject to similar noise regs as passenger aircraft.Building houses and light industrial units is not the right thing for Manston. The houses will probably be filled by ex pat Londoners and how will the industrial units output be delivered? By truck of course probably to another airport !!

  7. I have read the responses. I cannot understand why anybody living under the flight path would want the kind of airport which RSP intends to inflict on Thanet, if that company does manage to get hold of the site.

  8. The bias of the press is quite unbelievable. So, RSP have failed to meet yet another deadline. The press leaps in to give Roger Gale acres of print to espouse his warped sense of what is best for Thanet. Meanwhile, at Kent County Council, York Aviation delivered a cutting assessment of RSP’s plans. By all accounts RSP have cherry-picked data from a York Aviation report and have misrepresented the findings. The whole thing was recorded on video. Unsurprisingly, the pro-airport groups have tried to hide this video from their supporters. They don’t want them to know how flakey the business case really is. Unsurprisingly, the press don’t seem interested in the fact that the business case for reopening the airport doesn’t stack up. How biased can you get?

    • The last piece about SHP was written just 5 days ago and they had extensive coverage. Manston is not the only subject in Thanet and I have one pair of hands

      • It isn’t about the number of pieces. You are treating SHP and RSP as two equal proposals but they aren’t. SHP own the land. They have an excellent track-record of delivering regeneration project and have submitted a formal planning application with a massive volume of supporting data, particularly on transport. They’ve spent time and money consulting on their proposals and they have modified their proposals in response to the comments. They have sold the highly successful Discovery Park to generate funds to deliver their proposals. All they are waiting for is the go ahead from TDC. By contrast, RSP has no track record of anything. It is a company which was set up with a single £1 share and the source of any future funds is as clear as mud. RSP has not submitted any formal proposal and the deadline for submitting their DCO application keeps slipping and sliding. They attempted to organise a consultation over their proposals but there were lots of complaints and they are now having to organise further consultation events. I can only assume that the Planning Inspectorate told them that their bid wasn’t good enough to be submitted. There is no parity whatsoever between these two proposals, yet the local press keep presenting it as some kind of choice which people have. I’ll let you into a secret. The site of the former airport is private land. It was sold into the private sector nearly 20 years ago. People can “want” whatever they like, but if the council doesn’t own the site there’s precious little that can be done to deliver what people “want.” York Aviation’s presentation is highly significant because they have claimed that RSP selected pieces of data from the middle of their report and failed to acknowledge the data which did not support their cause. They went even further and said that the only data RSP had presented about the viability of their plan was based on York Aviation’s data, but that RSP had misrepresented their conclusions. You only have one pair of hands and you haven’t had time to report that the bid to reopen the airport, which you have given acres of newsprint over the last three years, may be fatally flawed. I’d say that was a pretty big omission.

        • The York Aviation comments have been published twice. This site has been running since March, not three years, and does not have a print edition

  9. RSP are a joke. New company and now stalling for time.
    Obviously Sir Roger Oak isn’t listening to everyone , just a bunch of plane spotters who want air displays at a commercial airport! (That’s not going to happen) Get over it the airport has been closed. Put an X on the runways in accordance with ICAO regs.

  10. From speaking as one of the ‘minority’ I am fed up with this saga rumbling on. Thanet needs this resolved so we can move on. I am shocked that the press gives so much time to Sir Roger and the nasty comments he makes of Cllr Wells. I never voted UKIP as they were obsessed with making Manston an airport. The fact that Wells has actually read the reports from experts and realised that to waste more time on the airport is a waste of public money and further stagnates the local area is something I commend him for. If only previous administrations had listened to the market forces, we wouldn’t still be in this ground hog day of Manston being an airport. I would rather use that big slab of concrete for Housing and industry than to use more green areas for the inevitable housing that is coming our way, possibly more if central government take over due to us not submitting a local plan. I think people are obsessed with the fact that without an airport WW2 planes aren’t going to fly over again. We need to stop living in the past and invest in our future.

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