Development Consent Order application for Manston airport ‘temporarily’ withdrawn

Manston airport site

The firm aiming to bring aviation back to Manston airport has withdrawn a Development Consent Order (DCO) submission submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for the site in April.

A DCO is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). This includes energy, transport, water and waste projects.

Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP) sent 63 documents, containing almost 11,000 pages of proposals, to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.

But today (May 8) the Planning Inspectorate website displays a letter from RSP lawyers Bircham Dyson Bell which states the application has been withdrawn.

The letter says: “This letter is to notify you that our clients, RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd, are withdrawing the application submitted on 10 April 2018 and are engaging with the Planning Inspectorate with a view to resubmission as soon as possible.”

RSP proposals

The RSP proposals are for a £300m project to create an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation.

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.

A statement from RSP says: “RiverOak Strategic Partners has temporarily withdrawn its DCO application in respect of Manston Airport. This is not uncommon with DCOs and RSP is in dialogue with the Planning Inspectorate in order that the application can be resubmitted as soon as possible.”

The withdrawal notice comes on the same day as Stone Hill Park announced it has submitted enhanced plans for houses, business and leisure to be developed at the site.

‘Not rejection’

A Save Manston Airport association spokesman said: “Today’s news from the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) is naturally disappointing but is not unique.

“According to reports on the BBC, RSP are seeking clarification on some technical issues and are having a meeting with PINS on Friday. Our understanding is that such clarification cannot happen whilst there is a live application. RSP, therefore, had no alternative but to withdraw the application, clarify the issues and then resubmit the application for acceptance.

“Hopefully this will not delay acceptance by too long. This is not a unique situation – the 2013 DCO application for the Mynydd y Gwynt Wind Farm was similarly delayed. This application was eventually refused but it demonstrates that this procedure has been used before.

“We should also bear in mind that this is the first DCO application for an airport and will undoubtedly serve as a template for the multiple applications required for the third runway at Heathrow. PINS will therefore want to ensure that nothing is missed.

“The application has been temporarily withdrawn and when resubmitted will again be subject to the 28 day maximum duration. However much of the work has already been done so there is no reason to believe that the renewed Acceptance phase will need the full 28 days to complete.

“The final phase of a DCO application allows for the the possibility of a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision. This “appeal” can only adjudicate on procedural shortcomings so it’s important that we remember that it’s better for PINS to be over cautious now than leave the final decision open to challenge because of procedural errors at this stage.

“This is only a delay. The application has not been rejected.

“SMAa continue be optimistic and look forward to acceptance of the application leading to the return of commercial aviation at Manston Airport.”


  1. After years of messing about, re-scheduling, additional consultations, unoffocial consultations and the shifting of the submission date from Q3/Q4 2017 to Q1 the Q2 2018, RSP submit their DCO application, only to withdraw it at almost the last second.
    True it wasn’t rejected by the PI. But I wonder what major cock-up went so long undetected by RSP’s “crack team” of “experts” that caused RSP to pull their application?

  2. With Sajid Javid moving jobs to take over Home Secretary from Amber Rudd who resigned amid the Windrush scandal, Gale and Mackinlay need time to butter up James Brokenshire the new Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary. This withdrawal of DCO is just another delaying factor holding up Thanet from moving on with what is needed. This whole process is a scandal in itself.

  3. With any luck RSP will never re-submit their application. And Ramsgate, Herne Bay and the rest of the towns and villages will be free from the threat of non-stop noise and pollution from a huge and thriving cargo-hub airport.

  4. I’m reading a lot of clap-trap posted on social media by airport fanatics. They are claiming that it’s just about minor amendments and the like. Here’s the rub. If the plan had flaws when were they spotted? They hadn’t been spotted a couple of weeks ago when Mr, Freudmann addressed SMAa’s AGM and told their gullible supporters that it was all going to plan. The letter to PINS went out on Friday. Is it pure coincidence that this is exactly the day on which SHP submitted their updated planning application? Is it pure coincidence that RSP spotted their error with one day to go until PINS published their ruling? I don’t believe in fairies and I don’t believe that the timing of this is coincidental. If the problem is minor why would RSP not wait until PINS delivered their ruling? If minor corrections are needed they could have their meeting with PINS om Friday and hand the corrected application back in the following week. What possible advantage could there be to withdrawing it? All of this assumes you buy the line that PINS would reject an application for a major National Infrastructure Project over some minor technical details. Because, if PINS weren’t about to reject it, what possible reason would RSP have for withdrawing it? I reckon these minor technical details may turn out to be anything but minor.

    • This is what the Planning Inspectorate have to say:
      ” 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. “

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