Barristers issue claim for legal challenge over Manston airport development

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

A legal challenge over the approval for development at Manston airport has been issued by barristers today (August 19)

A pre-action letter sent to the Secretary of State in a bid to overturn the approval was rejected earlier this month.

Solicitors Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant have agreed to act on behalf of Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes, who is challenging the DCO decision, and have now instructed barristers Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas in the Judicial Review 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.

A statement on the 39 Essex Chambers website says: “Paul Stinchcombe QC, Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas are instructed by Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant LLP in a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision to approve the re-opening of Manston Airport, on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, as a dedicated freight airport.

“In so deciding, the Secretary of State overturned the recommendation of the Examining Authority to refuse development consent. They act on behalf of Jenny Dawes, a local resident who participated in the examination.

“Manston Airport has been disused since it was formally closed in 2014. The claim, issued today, contends that the Secretary of State’s analysis of the need for the development was flawed, and that moreover, the Secretary of State failed to discharge his duty to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 100% lower than the 1990 baseline (“Net Zero”), under section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008.

“Manston Airport is the first ever proposed airport development to go through the DCO examination process, and the claim is the first challenge to an airport DCO. Gethin previously acted on behalf of local resident objectors pro bono through the Environmental Law Foundation.”

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.

The JR bid was launched by Ramsgate  Coastal Community Team chairperson Jenny Dawes in July.

Ramsgate Town Council is one of the backers of the cause with the majority of councillors agreeing to donate £5,000 – and up to £10,000 if needed – of council funds to a crowdfunder campaign for Judicial Review costs.

Councillors who voted against the proposal, Lynda and Stuart Piper and Cllr George Rusiecki, have raised concerns about the use of taxpayer’s money.

Green Party councillor Becky Wing abstained from the vote over concerns about the use of public funds. She has donated to the JR in a personal capacity and the Green Party has also donated.

Money from the town council has been paid into the solicitors’ client account with caveats set out in a covering letter.

RSP says it will reopen the airport in a £300m project to create an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation. Plans for construction will be phased over 15 years and will include 19 freight stands and four passenger stands for aircraft as well as warehousing and fuel storage to meet the forecast demand.

There are also plans for education and training, flight training school, business aviation and passenger services.

Manston airport closed in 2014 shortly after Stagecoach tycoon Ann Gloag bought the site from Infratil.

Find a timeline of events here