Planning Inspectorate outlines ‘concerns’ with Manston airport Development Consent Order submission

Manston airport site Photo Adam Dark

The Planning Inspectorate has revealed why a Development Consent Order submission for the Manston airport site was withdrawn – citing a number of ‘concerns’.

The application was made by Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP), the firm aiming to bring aviation back to the site.

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.

RSP sent 63 documents, containing almost 11,000 pages of proposals, to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol in April.

But on May 8 the Planning Inspectorate website displayed a letter from RSP lawyers Bircham Dyson Bell which stated the application has been withdrawn.

DCO documents

The letter said: “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.”

An enquiry from Ramsgate Town Councillor Susan Kennedy over the reasons for the withdrawal resulted in a response published on the PINs website outlining the issues with the submission.

In it the Planning Inspectorate said its 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.

The concerns were put forward to RSP during a teleconference between the Planning Inspectorate, BDB Law and RSP on May 3 and the submission was withdrawn the following day.

An RSP statement at the time of the submission withdrawal said: “RiverOak Strategic Partners has temporarily withdrawn its DCO application in respect of Manston Airport.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.”

Following the meeting with PINS, RSP tweeted: “Extremely positive meeting with PINS yesterday. Inspector clarified all the points. We will be providing all the information required in the next couple of weeks, followed by a further meeting and resubmission.”

The PINS response has been welcomed by Thanet UKIP group leader Chris Wells, who said: “I would like to thank PINS for finally making the statement, highlighting the blindingly obvious flaws in this application.

“Those flaws reflect similarly cavalier approaches to the legal framework for CPO in RiverOak’s dealings with Thanet council in 2015.

“Surely now we can all put this amateur application behind us and move on?”

Isle Labour Party leader Jenny Matterface said the Labour administration had tried to find a back-to-back investor that would enable the CPO to proceed but had no success. She added: “’Now we can move forward and get the Local Plan out for comments to go directly to the Planning Inspectorate. Since 2015 we have been held back due to the obsession among some groups to reopen a failed airport as an environmentally damaging cargo hub.”

Thanet Independent Councillors say they will continue to push for aviation at Manston but would consider other backers.

Cllr Stuart Piper

Group leader Cllr Rev Stuart Piper said: “Thanet Independent Councillors believe that the Manston site should continue to be used for aviation. It is strategically important not only to Thanet, but to the UK and once it is gone, it cannot be replaced.

“Aviation at Manston will bring skilled jobs back to the area and greatly boost the local economy. Investors are lining up to be given the chance to re-open the site with a modern facility servicing new areas of the aviation sector to meet the demands of Britain after Brexit.

“We put the details of these investors to the new council Leader back in March but we have had no response or indication of real interest. They seem to be relying on the DCO as the only option and the revelation that it has been withdrawn for now, seems more than a little ominous. We are calling for immediate engagement with serious investors.”

Pro-airport campaign group Save Manston Airport association  said: ““A month ago RiverOak submitted 10,600 pages of documentation to apply for the Development Consent Order (DCO) on Manston Airport. After 28 days (and out of time) The National Infrastructure Planners (PINS) asked for further information.

“It is the very rare thesis that gets immediately accepted without “minor corrections”, and that appears to be the case here.

“The Save Manston Airport association had already by day 28 done their homework, and were well aware that “re-submission” was a possibility – it is both listed as an option in the official government documentation, and we have so far found three previous DCOs where re-submission has taken place – some which were finally rejected, and some of which were finally  accepted.

“We understand, from a RiverOak Tweet that they will be providing all the information required in the next couple of weeks, followed by a further meeting and resubmission.”

“SMAa have every expectation that these “minor corrections” will be dealt with soon and we hope to have an open airport some time next year.”

RSP and MP Sir Roger Gale  have been approached for further comment.

RSP proposals

The RSP proposals are for a 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.

The cost of putting the infrastructure for Manston in place is now expected to rise to £479 million, with other expenses, such as for a CPO, to be in addition to that sum.

Stone Hill Park

Site owners Stone Hill Park (SHP) have submitted an enhanced application for homes, business and leisure to be developed at the airport site.

The documents, now published on the Thanet council website, outline plans for  46,000 sq m of advanced/hi-tech employment space which SHP say will provide up to 2,000 direct jobs with 9,000 further jobs created over the course of the project, including construction and jobs in the supply chain for the wider area.

Plans include a heritage airport with an operational runway; public parks an East Kent Sports Village with facilities including Kent’s first 50m Olympic sized swimming pool and a WaveGarden surf lake; schools, a  food store, cafes/restaurants, a 120-bed hotel and a health centre.


  1. Its bout time RSP walked away and let the owners of the land develop the site for mixed use which would benefit all residents of east Kent not just a tiny group of airport supporters whose only tactic is to object to anything legitimate being built on the old airport .

    • Tiny group where did you get that from, the airport will provide jobs now and in the long term Thanet needs jobs not houses

      • well said, David!! SMA is a very large group of people from different areas and demographics. All of whom want the best for the local Thanet area and don’t want to see more problems caused by a large influx of people into an area which cannot support them in employment,schools, medical facilities etc.Continuing use of Manston Airport, on the other hand will provide jobs in Thanet and will benefit the country as a whole.We need more not less airports for the growing air cargo needs. And this will be even more important after Brexit.

    • Sorry East Kent Resident. You do not know what you are talking about. P.S. I do
      not mind my name being known!!

    • I can’t fathom why anyone would want a cargo hub airport on his or her doorstep. All the arguments about jobs (the only argument really put forward in favour of an airport) are flimflam and boffo. There are plenty of employment offering enterprises that are much less damaging.

  2. A lot of Baby Boomers like shouting AIRPORT but soon they will all be dead. Which is nice.

    • Not all people who support the airport are baby boomers.One day you will be dead too, just as Thanet may be with this great loss of the airport or at least become more of a backwater. Why are many big firms locating to the far east of London. ? London city airport is there that is why. My worry is that we have a perfectly good airport, and port . Anyone with any sense should see that transport infrastructure should come first before the housing frenzy . We have little work here. there is also a shortage of water.The SHP is a fairytale. Who will pay for the swimming pool, wave pool and so on.And have you ever seen planes landing within feet of houses. That won’t happen. No money in it.It’s just sad that the airport may well go in favour of a a vast housing estate. And for whom?

    • If you want to complain about the baby boomer generation then you should say something about the baby boomer Government. What did they expect when the interest rates are 1% . Anyone with any money will go into property either directly or indirectly. This pushes the price of houses up. I have read that 85% of all UK banking is property related. the Banks do not lend to other types of business so readily. All the baby boomers have done is talk about house prices going up and up. London is full of empty investment flats.On the other hand cash strappedLondon councils have to balance theiir books so sell of council propertyto developers who build more luxery flats . The Howe baracks near canterbury have been bought by one of the London councils to house their tenants. Sp much money is to be made by property speculation that no wonder airports all over the UK are being lost.Manston is a symptom of a fairly disgraceful lack of care to the provinces

    • Wishing people dead what kind of idiot are you, what is this i love antis page. Most people in East Kent want the airport back and running providing real jobs not pie in the sky jobs as promised by SHP

    • Are there any credible statistics to back up the claim that RSP’s plans for a large 24/7 cargo airport are supported by “most people in East Kent”?

      • Before criticising the airport reopening I would suggest that those submitting rejection comments actually scan through the submitted documents. As regards statistical data there is quite a lot actually – ranging from the Civil Aviation Authority, to Department for Transport to even Kent County Council. Oh yes – users of Stansted Airport (owned by Manchester Airports who also own East Midlands – a mainly cargo airport) have stated that they would welcome a return to Manston. Take a look at Stansted’s planning and you’ll see that they have ditched an airport expansion and seem to be trying to encourage cargo aircraft to move to allow and increase of passenger flights. I don’t know of any links but it does suggest that the issue of an extra runway being required for London’s airports might be eased if cargo can be moved to an existing long runway – which makes sense to me.

        • If you live in Ramsgate or Herne Bay, you should read about the effects of aircraft noise and pollution on humans and their environment. It’s because of them that I and many others don’t want to live near an airport.

          • …and if you were to read actual documents regarding flight paths, aircraft noise measurement etc then you will be able to assess just how noisuy modern aircraft are. Don’t forget that noisy aircraft are not allowed at night and UK airports have night periods when scheduled take off and landing cannot be made. Please take a look at: –
            Sorry it won’t allow you to just click on it but “cut and paste” should work.

  3. The inability to prove that the proposal is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) is not something which can be addressed with a “minor correction.” The DCO process can only be used if the project is accepted to be an NSIP, so this failure is fundamental. If they can’t demonstrate that it is of national significance the whole project is finished.

    • Even if planes were silent I’d still prefer a mixed-use development, as this should prevent thousands of houses from being built on greenfield sites,as well as preventing the pollution caused by planes.

      • I’d love to look at documents relating to flight paths, but RSP failed to publish any meaningful ones.

    • It is not a failure; who said it was? The Planning Inspectorate wanted additional information before submitting the application for examination. PINS was not making any decision as regards the viability of the project and they have allowed the proponent to make additional submissions. You could not expect a project of this magnitude to be accepted without some requests for additional information/clarification; after all, this is the first NSIP application for an airport. There is no question of failure only wishful thinking on your part.

  4. It is about time Thanet council got on with there task of bringing employment to the area.There are already enough places allocated for housing so get on as they all promised prior to election and get industry into Thanet.

  5. It’s about time some people realized that the kind of airport RSP says it wants to build would be a nightmare for the residents of Ramsgate, Herne Bay and points in between, and would spell the end for the revival of tourism in the area.

  6. Thanet need’s her airport back for local job’s & buisness…..
    We have transport link’s as in the new thanet way,high speed rail link,buse’s,taxi’s etc & we don’t need anymore housing,luxury appartment’s etc as thanet doesn’t have the resource’s to support this …..

    • Sorry Marva. You are, sadly, another one who really does not know what they are talking about. I have lived, during the last fifty years, in Herne Bay, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and now Margate. I also worked at Manston Airport for thirty years, both in The RAF and as a Civilian.

      • Perhaps Mr Sherwell and those who agree with him could explain clearly why they think that having something like East Midlands Airport a couple of miles from Ramsgate is a good idea.

      • I’m shure that you don’t need to apologize to Marva Rees because of where you lived and worked.

  7. Can’t believe we actually had a leader who saw through this farce and had to step down due to the baying mob of SMA and the ridiculous wish of making it an airport again. We are always criticising TDC for making the wrong decisions but in Wells we had someone who actually listened to the facts in the reports and now we are wasting more time on this saga. We need more houses and I would rather they place the majority on the brownfield site than rip up more green sites. Living close to an airport is not good for the residents’ mental and physical health. Let’s grow up and move on.

    • One report that actually had a great big disclaimer at the beginning advising that it should not be used as a basis for making fundamental decisions and yet Wells went ahead relying on a flawed document.

  8. Wishing people dead what kind of idiot are you, what is this i love antis page. Most people in East Kent want the airport back and running providing real jobs not pie in the sky jobs as promised by SHP

  9. No airport, we don’t need it, with all the environmental and nuisance problems that you have around an airport, never mind a freight airport with night flights on top too. The only reason this saga is continuing further is because of Sir Roger Gale being elected president of the All Party Parliamentary Group on general aviation (APPG) last June 2017. He is out to make a name for himself before retiring.
    There are better options for use of the land though and Thanet is short of accommodation that is affordable for it’s own residents on low incomes. We need these people to be catered for and with jobs you need homes.

  10. We’ve clearly reached the point where the wishes of the pro-airport mob need to be ignored. They aren’t prepared to listen to reason and are ignoring all of the facts. There isn’t a viable plan to reopen the airport, it isn’t of national importance and there is no clarity about the funding. All political parties have tried pandering to the mob and it has got them nowhere. It’s time for a leadership which is bold enough to move on. Bizarrely, Chris Wells was ready to do just that but his own party imploded because they’d allowed airport campaigners to pose as UKIP candidates. Mr Bayford can’t lead the area out of this crisis because he is too wedded to the idea of airport and has his own share of airport fanatics. In any event, he has to do what Sir Roger tells him to do. With elections due next year, who will be offering to back redevelopment of the site?

    • Cheggers, clearly not your real name! You really do not know what you are talking about. Kent and the whole of South Eastern England needs Manston Airport re-opened. As I have said before to those opposed to Manston. You, of course would not EVER fly from any airport because it would inconvenience those affected by the horrendous noise and pollution “your” aircraft caused. How about being real for a change!

  11. Good. Can’t wait for the DCO to be dead and buried. Thanet needs housing and employment opportunities, not a toxix cargo hub with a handful of zerohour contract tarmac jobs and enough pollution to make us the COPD capital of the UK. It’s time to ignore the airport fanatics now. None of them seem particularly interested in evidence, facts or data, so there’s absolutely no point trying to argue with them.

  12. RSP withdrew its application (after 2 1/2 years, £4M and the efforts of the world’s best experts) because of several major flaws.
    One was that RSP had not presented evidence to show that their project was worthy of NSIP status. In other words, they’d failed to show that their project would delivet an increase of 10,000 air traffic movements.
    A second reason was failure to show adequacy of funding. In other words, RSP was unable or unwilling to say who the Belize backers are, and how much money (if any) they’ve got. (That’s the third time RSP/ROIC) has fallen at that particular hurdle).
    The five reasons listed by the PI are only some of the many reasons the PI put to RSO, and thus prompted withdrawl before rejection happened.
    To suggest that this situation is a “temporary blip” is an understatement. It’s a catastrophe for RSP, and a glimner of hope for those of us who live under what could be the flight path.

  13. I’d love to see Manston operating as a regional hub airport with a company like KLM using it to its full potential but unfortunately the campaign seems to have been hijacked by Tony Freudmann sycophants that have fallen under his spell and believe that the RSP plan for a cargo hub to rival East Midlands Airport is a shoe in for success. Now it would appear that the ‘expert’ team at the top of its field failed to present documented evidence that their proposals are either of national significance or fully funded – surely these should have been the most important matters to address within the application? Aren’t they the foundations on which the proposals would be assessed? Why isn’t someone within SMAa or Sir Roger Gale asking serious questions of TF? Why are they hell bent on believing RSP and not putting them under the same sort of scrutiny/criticism that they apply to anyone and everyone else?

    • As I understand it they have set aside £470 million for that very purpose. Somebody please correct me if I cannot read!

      • They might have said they’ve set aside £470M, but they have declined to tell the PI which bank on Belize is actually holding the cash .

      • It’s not your reading that’s at fault, but your understanding.
        Read the PI’s comments, and try to understand them

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