The cost – so far – of the deal to use Manston airport for Operation Stack

Manston airport site

A Government arrangement to use the former Manston airport site as an emergency lorry park for Operation Stack has so far cost more than £5.7 million.

The deal was first signed between owners Stone Hill Park and the Department for Transport to use the land in August 2015. A two year extension was agreed in November 2017, meaning the site can be used for Stack until December 31, 2019. The arrangement had been due to finish at the end of last month.

The government says the airport land will “continue to be used during severe cross-Channel disruption, helping to further reduce the impact on Kent,” following the collapse of plans for a lorry park at Stanford West, near Ashford.

A Freedom of Information request has now revealed that between August 2015 and December 2017, the Department for Transport paid Stone Hill Park £5,742,011 – despite never using the site.

Stack area in dark outline, red outline is the Manston airport/SHP site

Highways England is currently developing new plans for a permanent solution congestion on Kent roads caused by cross-channel disruption. The plans include finding a site for a permanent lorry park.

A consultation on those plans is set to take place this year, ahead of a planning application in 2019.

The deal to use Manston as a short-term solution was first struck with Stone Hill Park following a Summer of disruption in 2015 due to French strikes and growing migrant camps in Calais, with many attempts to illegally enter the UK through Dover and the Channel Tunnel.

The aim was to park lorries up at the site and so reduce pressure on the M20.

Work to prepare the site included fitting floodlighting and painting lines for parking HGVs up as well as adding toilets and shower blocks.

Stone Hill says the agreement is subject to review on a regular basis, most recently in November 2017.

Ray Mallon, spokesman for Stone Hill Park, said: “We were approached by the Department for Transport with a view to entering into a commercial agreement for our site to be used as an emergency lorry park.

“A significant amount was spent preparing the site for HGVs to park there, including works to the runway parking area, toilet facilities and security. We also have agreements with a number of companies to ensure we’re able to have the site ready to receive lorries within three hours of being notified.

“We have also ploughed money back into our development plans for the site.  These plans – if granted planning consent – will deliver millions of pounds of private sector investment for Thanet that will dwarf anything we have received to date, including: three new schools; the first part of a new strategic road link to Westwood Cross; a hi-tech business park plus regionally significant sports, leisure and heritage attractions that will create jobs and boost the area’s economy.”


Read here for the routes while Manston airfield is in use during Operation Stack


  1. Who said there was no such thing as “Money for Nothing” ?
    Sadly. It OUR taxpayers cash being trousered by Messers Cartner & Musgrove ….

  2. With TDC making it clear that they will not permit plans for a mixed development for the site, the prospects for a permanent lorry-park there must have increased dramatically.

  3. I hope that the anti- airport Luddites take stock after this disclosure.Messrs Cartner and Musgrove were hardly convincing at the outset.Dodgy deals elsewhere in the UK seemed to have been overlooked by those with a pathological hatred of aviation who gave these ‘ saviours’ of Thanet such support.Certainly ,£5 million of taxpayers money later with nothing to show for it is more than disgraceful. The airport re-opening is a must.The inward investment and creation of jobs is critical for the future of our children here in Thanet. Thousands of homes for people shipped in from other parts of the UK will not create any worthwhile jobs.Thanet will remain as a low-wage low-skill area with plenty of social problems and inadequately-funded hospitals, surgeries, schools and infrastructure to deal with the 40,000 anticipated increase in population.

    • One doesn’t need a pathological tared of aviation or indeed any degree of hatred to understand that cargo hub airport would be very damaging for the people who live under its flight path. In recent years more and more evidence of this damage is being made public.

    • I lived in St Nicholas in line with the end of the runway in the early 70’s- occasional flights by old planes and Vulcan bombers were noticeable, but today’s planes are very much quieter, climb faster, turn away from the towns quickly and are out over the see before you know it.
      Passenger services are not likely to happen, but a freight hub with air, road, rail and port facilities can make Thanet a thriving international hub and will increase the value of everyone’s homes.

  4. Khadija. The only noisy night flights were the Russian mercy flights which are no longer allowed. I’ve lived directly under the flightpath for over 40 years.

  5. If M&C hadn’t been paid the dosh, someone else would. The government had to provide a lorry parking facility somewhere.
    Do you imagine that Mr Fraudman, were he to have owned the site, would have provided free parking?

  6. That bent ex cop Musgrove really does talk rubbish. Also, if you do not like airport noise, why choose to move into an area where there is an airfield that has been here since 1916?

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