An Extraordinary meeting of Ramsgate Town Council will take place tomorrow to hear a resolution proposing a donation to a bid to bring a case against the development of Manston airport.
Councillors will meet at 10am -online – to hear a resolution from Cllr David Green to use council funds to help a bid to apply for a Judicial Review against the Secretary of State’s decision to approve the freight cargo hub and associated aviation plans for the site.
Chair of Ramsgate Coastal Community Team Jenny Dawes – who says she is acting alone – initially had a £12,000 target but this was doubled within a couple of hours of launch.
Solicitors Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant have agreed to act and to instruct barristers Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas in the action.
A Judicial Review would look at whether the Government followed correct procedure in reaching the decision to approve the DCO for RiverOak Strategic Partners.
The decision on a development consent order for the Manston airport site was announced on July 9 after delays in January and May.
The Department of Transport approved the application to create an air freight hub at the site. The Examining Authority panel of Martin Broderick, Jonathan Hockley, Kelvin MacDonald and Jonathan Manning had recommended that development consent should not be granted.
Jenny Dawes says her action is being launched due to the decision being made against the examining panel’s advice.
One panel conclusion was that the development would have an adverse effect on tourism in Ramsgate. However, the letter on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport said: “The Secretary of State considers that the public benefits significantly outweigh the harm caused by the Development due to noise and vibration impacts, taking into account the restrictions to be imposed by him, and also acknowledging that the airport has operated lawfully without restrictions in the past.”
Cllr Green says: “RTC had previously submitted evidence to the enquiry concerning the likely detrimental impact of the planned freight hub on the lives of residents in Ramsgate. The ExA endorsed those concerns, listing amongst others, detrimental impacts through noise and pollution as well as impacts on heritage and archaeological assets, climate change and other environmental damage.”
He says RTC applauds the over 2000 residents and residents’ groups that provided evidence to the enquiry and it is a ‘great regret’ that the DCO has been granted despite the conclusions of the panel.
He proposes: “Ramsgate Town Council agrees to contribute £5,000.00 towards the cost of the Judicial Review and up to £10,000.00 if there is a shortfall in the funding.”
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said he believes the spoils of a review will go to the lawyers. In a round up of national and local issues the MP said: “I have been elected three times locally with my support for Manston at the heart of my election campaigns. It is a fact as sure as night following day that wherever there is an airport there is low unemployment.
“Airports are a huge driver of growth, investment and new businesses which will benefit the whole of East Kent.
“I know this has displeased some with a rush towards a Judicial Review. That is everyone’s right to do so but in a two-sided legal argument it is usually another party that takes the spoils – the lawyers.
“Ramsgate Town Council should tread warily in committing up to £10,000 of local taxpayers’ money supporting a Judicial Review into the Manston DCO decision. Town and Parish Councils have clearly defined roles in the local government hierarchy and local residents should ask if this is one of them?
“I am hugely supportive of local democracy and for decision making and spending being directed by the level closest to the electorate so served but would recommend Town Councillors seek their own advice as I’m sure they will need to consider personal liability for spending decisions found to be beyond their powers.
“I additionally have to ask if this is the right decision to make without first obtaining reliable data as to the true position of support or opposition within Ramsgate on the airport issue? As a local Ramsgate taxpayer myself I note that the local precept for RTC 2020/21 showed an inflation-busting increase of 21.44% with all the sanction of law if unpaid. I will be more than annoyed at my precept into the Ramsgate pot being spent in such an egregious manner.”
The Judicial Review route has previously been taken by councils. In 2018 Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, alongside London mayor Sadiq Khan and campaigning group Greenpeace, launched a legal challenge against the Heathrow expansion plans.
RSP previously said restrictions were in place as part of the DCO agreement on areas including air movements, night flights and noise quota counts as well as stipulations for local employment and training.
The proposal will be debated by councillors.