A public meeting in Ramsgate organised by the No Night Flights campaign group attracted some 400 residents on Friday (September 7).
The gathering at Chatham and Clarendon school was to discuss the Development Consent Order application submitted by Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP) and approved for pre-submission by the Planning Inspectorate and the process for lodging views with the Planning Inspectorate.
Registration is now open for people who want to comment on the DCO which seeks development consent and compulsory acquisition powers over the land. It is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). This includes energy, transport, water and waste projects.
RSP wants to gain the DCO for a compulsory purchase of the Manston airport site so it can create an international cargo hub with the possibility of passenger flights. Plans submitted to Thanet council by site owners Stone Hill Park are for housing, business and infrastructure on the land.
Campaigners from the No Night Flights group, formed when the airport was in operation to object to aircraft using the Manston site during the night and very early hours of the morning, talked about the history of the situation for newer residents while some of those who were present on the isle before the closure of Manston airport in 2014 shared their concerns.
Campaigners also talked about expert aviation insight into the viability of a business based on cargo flights at Manston, transport and haulage issues, lack of access to fuel on the Manston site, impact on tourism and health and PINS’ concerns raised at the first DCO application submission, which was withdrawn in May and resubmitted in July, about RSP’s financial viability.
Guest speaker Paul Luxmoore, Executive headteacher of the Coastal Academies Trust said: “It breaks my heart to think of our school children if their sleep gets disturbed. I guarantee that will affect their education. And if it affects their education it will affect their life choices.”
Anne Marie Nixey, of NNF, said: “With 400 plus people turning out on a Friday night, it is obvious there is a huge groundswell of local people keen to see the plans for the airport put away once and for all.
“Anti airport groups have sprung up across social media since the meeting, amplifying these voices. We ask that PINS and indeed the Department for Transport to listen.”
RSP has previously said it is not looking to carry out night flights but wants ‘flexibility.’
RSP director Tony Freudmann (pictured) said: “We have to model the worst case scenario (in the documentation), which is what we did. We are looking for some flexibility but we are not looking at scheduled night flights.
“The problem with cargo flights is they do sometimes run late and if you have a plane with flowers or fresh produce you can’t tell them to go away, they need to land or they will lose their cargo.
“That is not a regular thing and we just need flexibility for that scenario. The old 106 restrictions meant there was no need for night flights apart from exceptional cases and we are not likely to need anything different.”
Save Manston Airport association (SMAa) and Kent Needs Manston Airport (KNMA) are also preparing submissions to comment on the DCO.
Members of these groups say a commercial airport of freight and passenger flights will bring investment for infrastructure, new jobs and regeneration.
The DCO process
Registration for interested parties is now open and runs until 11.59pm on October 8.
Once registered as an Interested Party a person can make a Relevant Representation. A Relevant Representation is a summary of a person’s views on an application, made in writing.
An Examining Authority is also appointed at the Pre-examination stage, and all Interested Parties will be invited to attend a preliminary meeting, run and chaired by the Examining Authority.
Although there is no statutory timescale for this stage of the process, it usually takes approximately three months from the formal notification and publicity of an accepted application.
Once the application moves on to Phase 4 (Examination) there is a maximum of 12 months for the Secretary of State to make a decision on whether to approve the DCO to reopen Manston airport.
Once a decision has been issued by the Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which it can be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.
Manston airport – planes or houses?
Riveroak Strategic Partners
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 said to be in the region of £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, 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.
The documents can be viewed at www.thanet.gov.uk, click through to the planning portal and enter reference OL/TH/18/0660