Decision over Manston airport site Development Consent Order -due today – still not announced

Manston airport site Photo Frank Leppard

A decision by the Secretary of State due today (May 18) on the long running saga over the development consent order application to create a freight hub at the Manston airport site has still not been published.

RiverOak Strategic Partners submitted a DCO application in July 2018 in a bid to gain compulsory buy-out powers over the Manston airport site. The firm wants to revive aviation at the site with a cargo hub and associated business.

The DCO seeks development consent and compulsory buy-out powers over the land. It is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP).

The application was opposed by then- Manston airport site owners Stone Hill Park which had lodged an application to develop housing, leisure and business on the land.

The DCO application was accepted for the pre-examination stage by the Planning Inspectorate in August 2018.

The Planning Inspectorate examining panel, led by Kelvin McDonald, examined the bid last year, with hearings and site visits running between January and July. These covered 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.

However, shortly before the hearings concluded SHP sold the site to RSP subsidiary RiverOak MSE Ltd for £16.5 million.

A decision by the Secretary of State over the DCO had been due on January 18 but a written statement to Parliament made by Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, just two days prior to that date, said the decision was being pushed back by four months.

The decision was due to have been published today but has still not been made public. A spokesperson for the Planning Inspectorate said: “The decision is currently with Transport Ministers. Once we receive the decision, we will publish on our website.”

An official announcement about when the DCO decision can be expected, or an explanation for the delay, has not be made by the Department for Transport.

A spokesperson for the DfT said the department “can’t comment on a live application.”


  1. No news is good news I think. I think it’s something to do with BA Pulling out of Gatwick Airport and other talks going on behind the scenes.

    • It’s got absolutely nothing to do with TDC.
      Of more interest than BDB’s connections is just who, on the BVIs, is behind RSP?
      Anyway, with a bit of luck, the question will be academic.

  2. This incompetent inept DCO was absurd pre Covid but now? It is preposterous and unthinkable.

    Tony will have to fly his shortages of freeze dried fish to entirely uninterested customers on planes nobody has come forwards with to someone else some other time. Or how about putting them on electric barges. Poor fishes.

    Let’s hope Ramsgate can be freed of the cargo plane spotting obsessives all too soon.

    No evidence. No viability. No customers. No planes. No transparency. No go.

      • Not viable as a solely passenger airport but RSP are not looking to operate it as that. It will be a cargo hub with maybe a few commercial flights in time. How many times does this have to be said!!!!

  3. Please let’s put Manston airport in to graveyard where it belongs and lift the grey polluted cloud of freight that hangs over Ramsgate. Then the town can continue its recovery into the thriving cultural hub and healthy holiday resort that it was.

  4. I live in SE London but am a member of Ramsgate Society. My heart is in Ramsgate and with all of you thanks to 50 consecutive annual holidays in Ramsgate starting from 1954. I am praying that the threat to Ramsgate will be lifted and the town will regain its former charm

  5. Seriously?

    The Manston cultists cannot see the world around them? Gatwick probably about to lose 2x major carriers, airlines on their knees and cutting back services buy 80%+, and all to a backdrop climate change and hostility to air travel, and they GENUINELY think there is a case for ANOTHER airport adding extra unneeded capacity over 75 miles from London….. that is frankly so absurd it doesn’t even warrant comment.

    And the best part, they are all upset because the decision didn’t happen on the day they expected.

    Wonder if the gvt have more pressing concerns to be dealing with right now?

    • To my mind (such as it is) this is an open and shut case. There is overwhelming evidence that Manston won’t work, and underwhelming evidence to the contrary.
      I can’t see why there was the first 4 month delay. And what’s happening now is unbelievable. Vague waffling in the press and from Srodge about “delays”, but absolute silence on the PINs website.

  6. Manston will reopen again no worries there. The oddballs who objected will have to find another thing to moan about.

  7. There are certainly an awful lot of oddballs, as the hundreds of adverse comments on the Planning Inspectorate site show.

  8. Major re assessments are coming.
    Gatwick is reducing. Fewer planes. Will another runway open at Heathrow, now that there will be spare capacity at Gatwick?

    What role could there be for another runway at Manston when airports on the edge of London are struggling? Yes, I think a lot of the economy will stagger back to life as the virus fades but it will take a while and we still have the damage of Brexit to face.
    Will so many people want to have a week in the Spanish/Portuguese/French/Italian sun if the medical arrangements become more expensive? If trade through Dover becomes reduced as being too expensive, might there be more capacity for lorry-borne freight available? So why bother flying it in? Especially as electric vehicles are expanding in use but planes are still the petrol-guzzling, pollution-spewing monsters they always were.

  9. It’s far more economic to fly goods in from Spain to Manston than to drive an HGV from Spain to Dover. It’s 32% cheaper and far more environmentally cleaner. Do your research before commenting on these sites

    • What you clearly fail to realise is that as far as transporting goods it is the cost of door to door, so effectively factory to warehouse. If it were cheaper then then there would be no lorries coming off ferries in Dover every day.

    • I challenge your assertions.
      If it really were the case that flying into Manston is 32% cheaper, never mind environmentally cleaner, why did so, so many people over so, so many years choose not to do it.
      As for research: the expert opinion of Louise Congdon of York Aviation sums up what many, many aviation business experts, bar one, have said.

  10. I grew up when the USAF were in residence later we had Vulcans “ticking over” on QR duties. Invicta Airways (International) and survived the noise and pollution, now we have quieter and far less polluting aircraft in a period where air cargo is growing beyond belief what is the problem. How many of the miners are actually Ramsgate born and do not own properties in the Nethercourt area or never order from Amazon?

  11. Dear Ann,
    you really must stop faking the evidence on climate change and freight charges.
    I know you are keen to have your peace and quiet disturbed, and cannot wait for the air to be polluted with Avgas emissions, but not everyone shares your dream. This does not make them ‘oddballs’, they just dissent from your opinion.
    Air freight produces 4 times the CO2 of an HGV. HGV’s deliver to your door. Air freight to Manston, if it ever happens,can only deliver to a site in the far corner of SE England, which is at least 80 miles away from any freight hub and will require road freight to collect and deliver up country, so that figure needs to be added on.
    Rail freight produces less than 10% in CO2 emissions compared to airfreight.Shipping less than 5% (and that’s being generous in favour of air freight).
    Why do you think road and rail is preferred over airfreight? Are logistics companies all ‘Odd balls’? Do they deliberately lose money hauling fresh food by road or rail?
    Please don’t spout about things you don’t understand and find inconvenient in terms of evidence.
    Just because you believe in fairies and shout constantly that I believe in fairies; does not mean that fairies actually exist.
    I do understand why the narrative on Manston continues as it does.
    To some it is a beacon of hope and a return to a comforting past of plentiful jobs and a social structure they understand and support, but life moves on, and while I agree that present world of Gig economics and constant change is disturbing and disruptive, backward economics is not the answer.
    The fact that they still have not posted a decision is disturbing. If the answer is approval, then the govt will have to will the means to restructure the local economy and what they spent in Margate, will seem slight in comparison to what will be needed to restore an already heavily damaged local economy in Ramsgate.Even if the answer is yes, it will take years before anything flies and in the meantime what is supposed to happen?

    • Dear George
      Much of your post I agree with but your comments on freight are a little off target, all big companies ship goods from collection/distribution center to another distribution/collection center. Deliveries to your door will from a center not from an international HGV. So the role of Manston will be as a center for collection/distribution of goods.
      You also seem to have overlooked the use of hydrogen to power HGV’s and aircraft. No CO2 from the their exhaust and possibly no CO2 during manufacture of fuel[debatable]. Manston will also be a location where aircraft can be broken up at the end of a useful life.
      Finally like many others you have not suggested any specific financial alternative use for the site of the airport. The DCO is a positive move, better than doing nothing or endless debating.

      • And if hydrogen power fails to materialise, then freight can be moved in Tony Tony Freudmann’s electric barges.
        Manston as a center (sic)? In order for something to be a “centre” it must be in the middle. Like, erm East Midlands Airport.
        Not suck in the remote bottom right hand corner, like Manston.
        Read the Falcon report

  12. All we need to know, I think, regarding Sir Roger’s comments today: straight from the horse’s mouth on the PINS website:
    The Examining Authority issued a Recommendation Report to the Secretary of State on 18 October 2019. The decision remains with the Transport Ministers.

    Nuff said, I think

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