Manston DCO: Questions raised over museums, noise compensation, funders and contamination

Manston airport site Photo Paul Wells

The Planning Inspectorate examination of the bid being made by firm RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) to acquire the Manston airport site and create a cargo hub and associated aviation business is due to come to a close on July 9.

The process, which opened in January, has examined a number of contentious issues surrounding the application, including night flights, noise and noise compensation, land values, funding and funders and the question of whether the project is needed.

Six months of wrangling has seen submissions from RSP presented to back its case that a development consent order should be granted to allow the compulsory purchase of the site.

The bulk of the land in question is owned by Stone Hill Park which has also presented its case as to why the DCO should be refused.

Representations have also been made by a wide variety of organisations, including Thanet council and Historic England, campaign groups including Save Manston Airport association, Supporters of Manston Airport, No Night Flights and Nethercourt Action Group, numerous individuals and both Manston museums.

The Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum has raised concerns at the paucity of discussion about the two venues and the future of their freehold.

In a submission from museum manager Matt Demedts it says there has been no confirmation or indication of RSP’s plans with regards to the museum’s current and future status as a freehold and wider plans for the museums area in general.

Mr Demedts said oral offers of the freehold being “re-granted” had been made but a request was made that the examining panel the examining authority would ask for clarity on what exactly was intended for the museums.

In the fourth round of Examining Authority questions, published on the Planning Inspectorate site, the issue of whether compulsory acquisition of the museum sites is justified as neither venue is required to move has been raised.

In response RSP say: “While the Applicant currently believes that outright compulsory acquisition is necessary for all the land subject to that power in its application, it may find later once detailed design has been completed that the lesser imposition of a restrictive covenant may be possible.”

Concerns have also raised over the amount of noise compensation that would be payable and the number of homes that would be eligible for that.

Campaign group Manston Airport Fair Noise Insulation Compensation says Thanet residents are not being offered the same level of compensation that those living near other airports will receive.

A MAFNIC spokesperson said: “Riveroak are offering noise compensation at 63dB (decibels). London City Airport and Heathrow are offering residents compensation at 57dB. Thanet needs the same protection, “

The current compensation on offer would mean around 275 residents qualifying for up to £10,000 to soundproof their homes.

If the 57dB threshold were to be applied MAFNIC calculates that up to 6,500 properties in Thanet would be entitled to protection.

MAFNIC noise calculations

The group says the figures are based on an independently commissioned Civil Aviation Authority noise contour map which was presented to airport planning inspectors at the recent DCO meetings.

MAFNIC has organised an online petition calling for parity with other UK airports and a map showing where compensation could apply here 

The Examining authority has also raised the issue of the compulsory purchase proposals overlap on land owned by Manston Green developers Cogent LLP.

RSP says it will work with the developers to confirm the use of the overlapping land but that the DCO scheme will not impact upon the deliverability of the Manston Green development.

The Examining authority asks why there has been little/no attempt to engage with Cogent.

Funding and funders

Questions raised over the funders for the scheme include whether identities should be in the public domain.

RSP said in submitted documents: “Business Investment Relief is an HMRC-approved scheme introduced to encourage non-domiciled UK residents to invest in the UK and does not require those using it to be disclosed. For the ExA to insist on full disclosure of those individual investors has the potential to undermine this type of investment in the UK.”

RSP say a total of £13.1million had been set aside for costs, including noise mitigation, and submitted a letter from Aldgate Developments pledging £250million to the first phase of works on the project. It is stated that Rubicon Capital Advisors will raise funds for the scheme.

The Examining authority has asked if agreements have been reached with Adgate and Rubicon whether Aldgate Developments is one of the four additional funders indicated by RSP in written submissions.

Further issues

Further questions have been raised about business plan forecasts, road networks and the proposed use of the Northern Grass.

The question of land contamination has also been raised with the likely presence of firefighting foam residual chemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid ) in the land and water.

PFOA can escape sites by air, by ground water, by outfall to sea  or by water supply.  Manston has all of these escape routes.

Southern Water abstracts from the Manston aquifer but the site has never been tested for PFOA. The assertion is that PFOA classification would render construction plans ‘obsolete’ for both RSP and SHP as well as raise significant questions about the health of Thanet residents in relation to water safety.

Thanet council has said it is reviewing its contaminated land strategy but appears not to be taking account of the PFOA classification.

Industry fire-safety experts from the oil and gas and aviation sectors and firefighter trade unions are urging governments to enact a global ban on PFOA,

The issue was addressed at the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

The convention’s scientific experts recommended the ban, including in firefighting foam, due to its toxicity, persistence, bioaccumulation in the food chain, and ability to travel long distances.

PFOAs have been detected at trace levels in human blood, and high concentrations have been linked to organ damage in rats and mice.

Avia Solutions

A new submission from resident Christine Redmond asks whether the Avia Solutions report, commissioned by Thanet council and published in 2016, can still be considered as evidence.

Mrs Redmond says the firm, which came to the conclusion that it was “most unlikely that Manston Airport would represent a viable investment opportunity, has now U turned on its view of the cargo market.

She submits: “The Avia consultancy report previously trashed RSP’s plans for a successful cargo hub at Manston Airport, citing a limited capacity for further cargo business overall in the UK, and Thanet District Council (TDC) and Stone Hill Park made much of this consultancy report during the PINS meetings.
“However,  (in a recently published report) Avia Solutions now clearly supports the objective of a prosperous future for air cargo. This is a contradiction to Avia’s previous report produced for TDC. Surely this latest news from Avia Solutions which plainly shows their confidence in air cargo growth, invalidates the credibility of the original consultancy report to TDC?”

Examination closing

Answers to the new set of Examining Authority questions are due to be submitted by tomorrow (June 28). There are then two further deadlines for the submission of comments on July 2 and July 5.

The examination report and recommendation is expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State by November with a decision likely to be announced in January 2020.


  1. Thank you Richard for all that you do no one else cares because they hide the truth from thanet taxpayers and Paul Carter answer me this how much money has this cost us so far on our council tax bills to pay for your incompetencies to not carry out the checks is deplorable, still you do not care either. Time lord sugar told you and your cronies you are fired and lets have people who care in charge for a change and do the job properly. Still not forgotten the Icelandic pension funds scam!

  2. Whilst not living under the immediate flight path I have to ask. How many people have moved into the flight path area’s knowing that they lived under a flight path. How many people have moved into the flight path area in each year over the past 10 years. How many people have passed by the runway/airport and purchased a property within the past 10 years, under the flight path. How many people have lived under the flight path for the past 40, 30, 20, 10 years. How many people have asked for compensation over those 60,50,40,30,20,10 years. As my mother used to say if you don’t like it move. The airport has been with us for 100 years. Some of you have lived under the flight path and in the area for 5 minutes in comparison. Before you all start ,I lived in the village of Manston of Manston from 1955. I have remained in Thanet ever since.

    • 5 years it has been shut many people moved here during that time and were told by estate agents it was never going to reopen
      In 1958 a deputation including the Mayor of Ramsgate went to the House of Commons to complain about the noise. Were you not there. 1958 the USAF moved coincidence I don’t think so

    • In response to R, I suppose it’s as acceptable for people who don’t want to live near an airport to say to those who do, “Why don’t you move?” as as it is vice versa.

      The airport at Manston isn’t there any more. And if it returns in the incarnation of a huge and busy cargo airport, it won’t just be people who have only lived here for 5 minutes who will suffer from its noise and pollution.

    • The piece isn’t primarily about compensation (though that’s a part of it).
      It highlights the appalling circumstance that less than 4 weeks from the end of the Examination, RSP *still* won’t or can’t say where the money is coming from.
      Exactly the same as when (under the name ROIC) they tried to get a CPO with the UKIP TDC and were rejected.
      Exactly the same as when ROIC tried to get a CPO with the Labour TDC and were rejected.
      As others have said: there is no airport. There hasn’t been one for 5 years. And when it ran commercially for 15 or so years, there were only a handful of flights. Nothing like the huge operation (similar to East Midlands airport) envisaged by RSP.
      There hasn’t been an airport at Manston for 100 years. Only 15 or so.

      • Never believe an estate agent, do your own research! We have lived under the flight path for 20 years & have never been bothered by noise. Houses sell quickly on our estate & for good prices, ask an estate agent.

  3. The DCO examination process is supposed to be a transparent way of dealing with large infrastructure applications. The reason there are vast numbers of questions is that RSP has not answered the questions at an earlier stage. The reason questions have to be answered is so that those who are affected by the proposed development have an opportunity to comment or object. With just ten days until the end of the examination those who are affected are going to have little time to comment on the answers, if answers are ever provided.

  4. 2 weeks to go and still much unexamined and unanswered
    • Why have RSP denied the residents of Ramsgate the legitimate compensation they deserve?
    • Why is the Ministry of Defence still in the dark over a significant Infrastructure facility?
    • Why are the people most affected still in the dark about Night Flights?
    • Why is there no verifiable evidence on the Beneficial Ownership of MIO (Belize) and HLX Nominees (Tortola)?
    • Despite it being mandatory why are there no Public Safety Zones in RSP’s plans?
    • Why is this submission considering Compulsory Acquisition powers for the Northern Grass when it is unrelated to a Cargo Hub?
    • Why is Cogent Land LLP being kept in the dark by RSP over their Manston Green planning permission?
    • Why are the trustees of the Spitfire & Hurricane museum still in the dark about their historical museum?
    • Why is it still unclear whether the application is an NSIP at all?
    • Clearly this application does not meet the criteria to be considered as a “compelling case in the Public Interest”

    • God protect us from the scaremongers & those who profess to speak for Thanet residents. The vast majority want an airport & the jobs it will bring. At first, the antis said that RSP had no money, now they question where the money is coming from. At least it won’t be public money in the form of grants for a ‘leisure village’ with no infrastructure provided.

      • By your argument, you need protecting from yourself, as you are now professing to know what the “vast majority” wants. At the last council election, Ramsgate residents voted strongly in favour of anti-airport candidates. That is fact, not opinion. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money, via KCC, was spent – and lost – supporting Manston in the years when it operated and during which time it employed fewer staff than a small supermarket. Not scaremongering, just telling the truth.

      • Are you serious? I believe those who profess to speak for Thanet residents are our MP’s Mackinlay and Gale who both have ties to the aviation business. They are the one’s who tell us the majority of residents want a dirty, polluting, noisy freight airport similar to the one at East Midlands. Most people know RSP have little money in the bank and need tons of investment but cannot show where it would be coming from. Nobody other than the directors can tell us this but they won’t. You cannot bring a DCO application without this knowledge, you cannot force a CPO without it, it has not been done before and will not be done here without a huge backlash from the public and residents living nearby. The SOS will surely lose his job then, but maybe he doesn’t care anymore, who can tell what he is thinking.

      • Fran still spouting your bile. How many cllrs voted in by Ramsgate residents were campaigning against the airport
        I’ll give you a hint 75% of them therefore the majority are AGAINST the airport

      • This “anti” still says they have no money..ok, they’ve got the loose change necessary for the DCO process etc, but as for the £300,000,000,00 needed to actually develop and run the airport: RSP itself says that it will approach selected investors and banks AFTER beimy granted the DCO.
        And just to note, it is the ExA who wants to know where the money is, and who’s got it.

  5. “As my mother used to say: “If you don’t like it, move.”” This kind of obnoxious, dictatorial attitude neatly encapsulates why the pro-airport campaign will fail. It is not for some unelected fishwife to tell other people what they must or must not do. We all pay our taxes, so we are all entitled to express our views. In the early stages of the pro-airport campaign they lied to all and sundry, claiming that the vast majority of local people wanted to see the airport reopened. It is only relatively late in the process that local people have been given a genuine opportunity to express their views, and it has become apparent that they are overwhelmingly against the plans for a freight hub. It is noticeable that the MP’s for Thanet, who have both failed to represent the interests of their constituents in respect of this matter, are no longer taking every opportunity to proclaim their love for Riveroak. Give them another couple of weeks and the pair of them will be claiming they never backed it in the first place.

  6. The DCO investigation indeed is meant to be transparent. We, the people of Thanet, need to know the names and addresses of all the proposed funders, 3 of which are NOT named above. Their financial credibility needs proper investigation – as does any association with them of Thanet politicians

  7. If this DCO is granted it will be at the expense of all rational evidence. Here we all are, years of suffering endless RSP promises and spin and yet… there it is… night flights are still on the table. Call em late flights if want, we residents know what they are. They are night flights. Say no to the DCO. No need. No funds. No viability. No significance.

    This issue is a blight on Thanet. Residents deserve the truth.

  8. All Kentish residents also need to know of any commitments made by KCC and TDC in support of a revived airport

  9. The link provided to the “report” in “Air Cargo News” provided by Mrs Redmond does not “trash” the report commissioned by TDC from Avia.
    No-one disputes that (at the moment) there is an increasing need for air freight. However, report after report make two observations:
    the need for *dedicated* Air Cargo planes is falling, and has been for years (nearly all air freight goes in the belly hold of passenger planes);
    Even if the demand for dedicated air freight was on the increase, Manston, on account of its geographical location, is not the place to meet that need.

  10. All those hypocrites that complain about noise pollution etc,should be banned from driving and air travel,they fly off on holiday go shopping in there cars polluting the air,is it ok when they do it,the airport will bring many jobs to the area.
    But I suppose the brown envelope brigade will win in the end back handers etc.

    • That’s ok, then, since I neither drive nor fly.
      Where does it say that the airport will bring many jobs (other than SMAa’s absurd advert)?
      Even if the airport was resurrected, it would be a highly automated cargo hub, with very few “proper” jobs.
      As to brown envelopes: the DCO process has been open and transparent. One wonders, however of the relationship between some of our politicians and RSP.

    • Why is it that the supporters above, of an air cargo hub in Thanet can only insult the intelligence of those who read the facts and comment on them here. It is not good to just say it will bring jobs and you should’nt move to a area with a disused airport in it.

  11. Am I the only one who finds a delicious irony in the Museums’ predicament?
    Since they were gifted the freehold by SHP they have been less than gracious to their benefactors. And now there is some doubt about their future, because RSP want to take the Museums’ lands (as well as everything else) with no guarantees about the future.
    Kama, some call it.

  12. Most research indicates that Manston isn’t a suitable place for a commercial airport. It also indicates that aviation in general, as well as other types of fossil fuel usage, should be severely reduced.

  13. **IMPORTANT**
    If you want to make a comment to the Inspector about the DCO Application, either for or against, then today is the last day that you can do it.
    Email the ExA at [email protected] by 23:59 tonight.

  14. I find it hilarious, those on this forum for years have complained that RSP have no money, the airport will never open Blah! Blah! Blah!, now they have suddenly realised not only have RSP got an abundance of funds but also it is looking more likely Manston Airport will open. now its we want compensation from the said nay sayers. you have no shame, you moved next to an airport expect planes like I would expect noise from trains if I moved next to a train line.

    • Am I the only person who hasn’t yet realized that RSP’s got loads of money and that suddenly there’s a really good case for reopening Manston as a bloody great cargo hub? Is there something I’ve missed?

        • Ambulance Chasers resorts to personal insult, as is so commonly seen with people whose case is poor.

      • Yes, Marva Rees, I think you have missed something, something that is very important to all of us, if we don’t get an Airport, we will get 4000 houses, the one thing that keeps us all alive, WATER, another 4000 houses taking water from our Reservoirs, Lakes & Rivers, also, what about the wildlife, that makes it’s home, along side the Runways, are you that ignorant, you only think of yourself, if we don’t get an Airport, I would rather see it turned into a big nature reserve.

        • Yes. I’ve missed the bit that says “The alternative to an airport is 4000 houses.”

          I would rather see a nature reserve than an airport, of course. But I’d rather see houses and workplaces on a brownfield site than on agricultural land or other previously unbuilt on sites. A bloody great airport would certainly cause a great deal of damage to nearby wildlife habitats.

          Why do so many airport supporters insult people who don’t want to live near an airport?

          • Well, Marva Rees, if the Nethercourt Estate isn’t close enough, for me to make a comment, then i don’t know what is.

          • Miss Rees, you still haven’t answered my question, where are we going to get all this water to support all these houses, it doesn’t matter what type of ground you build these houses on, wether, you build them on brown, green or what ever, you will still have to have water, you also say, it would kill off the wildlife, some of the best areas for wildlife are grass verges, like, besides runways, Railway banks, we need a total ban on house building in the Southeast.

          • What part of the houses have been written into the local plan. the choice was to build them on a brownfield site or Grade 1 agricultural land around Birchington and Westgate. Guess what they go moved onto green fields. So what part of “you get the houses both ways” don’t you get?

    • RSP have a few £M, enough, possibly, to pay for the DCO process. RSP is very coy about who has this money (it’s not in their bank account) and where it is (e.g. Belize, or the BVI). It’s one of the many, many issues the ExA wants resolving.
      What RSP hasn’t got is the £100Ms needed to bring the project to fruition.
      Mr A. Chasers is confident that Manston will reopen. Would he share with us the evidence to support that confidence?

      • I reckon you will not be far behind Marva at their door with your begging bowl for compensation also.

        • AC you have no conception about how compensation for blight works have you?
          Still I’m sure if you don’t get a letter then you will be sure you aren’t entitles and if you do you can donate to one of the seven schools affected but who RSP are ignoring

        • And the evidence to support your assertion that “It is looking more likely that Manston will reopen..”?
          You’re quick enough to be rude to people. How about some factual evidence to support your claim?

          • claim Ha! you can not make a statement without using claim which infers compensation claim can you Andrew. I bet you have already filled your compensation claim form out.

      • Mr Tripod: we get the houses.
        we get the houses and an airport.
        I think this message has been posted 94,000,000 times, but still people don’t get it

        • Mr Tony, bit of an exaggeration there, we cannot continue to build houses in the Southeast, we have not the water to supply these new build houses, take look around London, Chalk rivers are drying up, Reservoirs are only, just about coping, we are encouraging people to this area, where are
          the jobs, we have no jobs in Thanet, so get real and back the opening of Manston, as an Airport.

          • For the 94,000,001th time:
            Irrespective of problems with water supplies, reservoir levels and all the other infrastructure problems, WE GET THE HOUSES ANYWAY. Having an airport as well won’t alter that fact. WE WILL GET THE HOUSES AS WELL. A problem with having airport and houses is that many many more houses will have to be built on greenfield sites damaging wild life and so on. No way am I going to “get real” and back a 24×7 cargo hub noisier than Heathrow.
            One reason the chalk rivers are drying up is that climate change is affecting the amount of rainfall we get. Climate change driven in part by emissions from that least efficient transport system, aviation.

          • For the hard of thinking it is apparent that brainwashing is alive and well and flourishing on Nethercourt. Must be something left over from when the airport shut

      • It’s a pity that the effort put by airport supporters into their campaign could not have been put into a campaign to reduce the housing quota which the government is insisting on for Kent.

      • Mr Chaser:
        You’re quick enough to be rude to people. How about some factual evidence to support your claim?

      • “Mrs Rees” doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman is married. It is a courtesy title, as with housekeepers.

  15. I have been living in the manston area for over 40 years and its never caused myself or my family any problems so i for one dont really have a problem if its an airport.

    • Well, that’s very nice for you.
      Another question might be: “has the *absence* of an airport caused you any problems”?
      For example, does it distress you that you’re not woken six times a night by aircraft flying low over head? Are you distraught, because your al fresco bbq’s haven’t been ruined?

  16. You have to laugh the Avia report quoted by Christine Redmond isn’t even about Manston. Desperate or what lol

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