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


  1. Matthew Smyth- on the grounds you suggest,then the airport supporters will certainly outshine the objectors!

  2. No matter whether you are for or against the airport, I can’t see why anyone would object to a JR on such an important issue. Surely were the airport to go ahead, no one would want it to be an illegal enterprise?
    It’s worth saying that if anyone wants to contribute to the JR costs, contrary to scurrilous rumours put about by people who ought to know better, the only person against who costs can be levied is Jenny Dawes.

  3. Ramsgate Town Council should remain neutral, they represent all the people of Ramsgate. It is not their right to use public money . We need so much done for Ramsgate that money should have been spent on the needful. I hope our council are challenged on this use of public money.

    • Jack that maybe your opinion however they called an extraordinary meeting in May 2019 where the more that 200 residents who attended instructed the newly formed Town Council to do whatever it took to protect the Town of Ramsgate.
      Clearly you didn’t attend however the story was published by IOTN last year

      • The only people would would have attened that meeting are people who are desperate and will stop at nothing to stop that airport. Sad old people who will stop the opportunity of the young because they picked up a cheap house on the flight path. Leave the area. You arent wanted here by the majority

    • When the would-be councillors made their election speeches and published their manifestos, the majority (Labour, Green, Independent) made it clear that they were opposing an airport at Manston.
      They got voted in.
      So in supporting the JR (which is simply looking at the legality of the SoS’s decision- what’s wrong with that) RTC is doing what it said it would when it was elected.

    • It pretty much is their right to use the money, they were voted in with the main role being to manage the budget.

      I know it’s not how things are supposed to work, if they were in the national government they could have used it to fund a spouses business. Thanet just isn’t corrupt these days, Bring back Sandy Ezekiel, he was a proper crook!

    • You mean like when KCC gave hundreds of thousands to Manston to promote flights to the USA? (the flights never got off the ground). Did you protest then?

    • A council is there to represent and protect the electorate Jack Gardiner not remain neutral, and that is exactly what they are doing.

  4. SMAa hear that the Antis have submitted their Judicial Review papers to the Court, to oppose the DCO to re-open Manston Airport.

    As this is now a legal process with the Courts, SMAa ask you to please not post on either SMAa or other pages, concerning the JR.

    The Government (Secretary of State for Transport and legal team) and RiverOak and legal team will we understand strongly oppose the claims by the Antis.

    Note, these claims have to be about procedural errors in the Development Consent Order, not just there are details in the DCO that they disagree with.

    We believe that we should hear by Mid-September as to if the (single) Judge has accepted or rejected the case for Judicial Review.

    We believe that if it is accepted it will then be discussed in open Court.

    Posts pro-Manston Airport will still happen.

    We may review this policy as time goes by.

    • You forgot this,

      “You are reminded that SMAa Rule 5 requests that you make No Derogatory Comments, please”

      But don’t forget SMA(another airport group) will not follow these rules as it’s run by Dan Skeedale who welcomes derogatory comments.

      • Thanks for the “name check” on SMA James Bartlett. As I predicted SMA will never refrain from making derogatory comments. That’s the difference between the two Pro groups, one run by an adult the other by a puerile child.

  5. Councils are not Switzerland. It isn’t their role to be neutral. Just like TDC has been overrun in recent years by aviation obsessed leaders.

    The residents voted in RTC and RTC voted on the motion to contribute.

    I can’t get a tax refund for anything TDC chooses to support that I don’t agree with.


    • Quite correct. During 2014/15 TDC spent in excess of £100K on reports and work hours to attempt an unsuccessful CPO of the airport.
      I demand a refund

  6. Everyone one talks to about Manston Airport are so angry that the Dawes women and Ramsgate Town Council are trying to stop the Airport in favour of hundreds of houses. I have never known such hate and I’llfeelings over anything in Thanet before. I cannot understand why Dawes or indeed any person or councillors who do absolutely nothing for the residents in normal times would want to cause such upset and ill feelings on top of the pandemic , it’s not as if the Airport has never been there it’s been there for years and years. It’s much worse locally than the ill feelings that were stirred up by Brexit. How to make oneself immensely unpopular. Utter madness.

    • Just a slight correction:
      Where in the JR application does it mention “hundreds of houses”?
      I expect the Cllrs (who do an awful lot, both formally and informally) did what they did because a majority of people voted them in to do it.

    • Here we go again. William, please try and understand. It’s not airport or houses. Houses will happen, by government decree. If they don’t happen at Manston they will happen on other sites in Thanet, maybe next to your house?
      And as the article states, Manston closed in 2014, and has been disused ever since (apart from as a lorry park and now a Covid testing centre). There’s some who would like their old airport back, that will never happen. The proposal is for a completely different airport. The majority do not want the airport back, hence the success of anti-airport councillors at the last election. That’s democracy.

    • It seems William you have been taken in by the propaganda
      At no time was planning EVER issued for houses on the site

    • People I talk to think it’s great that a judicial review is being applied for. I haven’t noticed them expressing hatred for the people who want an airport, just bewilderment at why anyone living nearby would support such a thing.

    • The people I speak to mostly don’t want an airport nearby but I’ve never heard any of them express hatred towards those who do want one. Bewilderment,yes-hatred, no.

  7. William exactly the Council have made matters worse, by taking sides when the people of Ramsgate are split. So now they need voted out at the very next opportunity. Let us have a Town Council that tries to improve the lot of Ramsgate and mend this divide of Ramsgate’s folk. Better than making it a running sore that it will now become. What has the Council really done- not what they are bound to do, but a genuine action for the people!

    • That’s exactly what they are doing Jack. They’re following the wishes of the majority who do not want an airport and who voted them in. Isn’t democracy wonderful.

    • The people of Ramsgate are split. 90% don’t want an airport, 10% do.
      Some people want to ban animal exports, some don’t.
      Many drink at the ‘Spoons, a few won’t.
      Sprint Revival was a big deal in the case of some, for others it meant little.
      A Marina Village ar the port would be most welcome by some, reviled by others.
      Yes,Ramsgate is split.

      • I think you’ve got your sums the wrong way round, Andrew, according to ALL polls ever done on Manston. Approx 80% are always in favour of it!

        • Mr Grumpy
          You have been suckered by the propaganda
          Since 2010 there has only been one Poll and 73% voted against Night Flights.
          I would love to see a real poll conducted especially under the flight path in Ramsgate but sadly none have been conducted

          • Time and again they have stated clearly that there will be NO planned night flights! Only in genuine emergencies. BUT, unlike cars or ships, If there develops a problem and aircraft has no choice but to land, Unless you NNS idiots wish said aircraft to crash, killing all on board! Doubtless, NONE of you NNFS have EVER flown and never will out of consideration for those below. Believe that if you will ! ! !

          • Time and Time again Freudmann has explained that if it is in the air we will let it land which is why their shift pattern for air traffic control is 24/7/365.
            Every night, every week, every year
            That a lot of expense for a few “delayed” flights

        • Please would you put up a link to any one of the polls that showed 80% support for Manston?
          Going by responses to the DCO on PINS, the majority of respondents don’t want an airport.

    • they called an extraordinary meeting in May 2019 where the more that 200 residents who attended instructed the newly formed Town Council to do whatever it took to protect the Town of Ramsgate.
      Clearly you didn’t attend however the story was published by IOTN last year

  8. I dont think Thanet rate payers money should be used for this type of action. Thanet needs jobs no matter how we feel about the airport, the youngsters need work you cant rely on Thanet being a seaside resort. Theres more going on than we know about the new Station just down the road???

    • How do you know that “there’s more going on than we know”? Why don’t the rest of us know this?

  9. Emmeline. Yes democracy indeed, THANET NORTH and THANET SOUTH MPs won over all other candidates on a pro Manston Airport ticket . Why did Dawes or any RTC Councillors not put themselves up to be the local independent MP on an anti Manston Airport Ticket? Judging by the local feeling towards them I know the answer
    They would have all lost her deposit that’s for sure.

    • You’re babbling, Bill.
      We have 3 tiers of local democracy. KCc, TDC and RTC.
      The RT Councillors stood on and were voted in on a manifesto of “no” to Manston.
      They are not spending KCC money. They are not spending TDC money. They are spending RTC money: they’re doing what they said they’d do if they were voted in.

    • In Thanet North all the candidates of the main parties at the last election professed support for reopening the airport so your argument doesn’t stack up.

  10. For the record I used to be a Labour Party supporter, at my age 82 years, I only fly on very rare occasions. What I object to is the sneaky under handed way that RTC and Dawes have gone about things. I know the JR will not stop the Airport but even so it’s disgraceful actions. I don’t know no more than anyone else whether the airport reopening will be successful or not but at least it’s a positive move to open it, the Airport was closed by deceit.

    • How has “Dawes” (or TDC) been sneaky and underhanded? “Dawes” has been absolutely up front about what she’s intending. She’s broadcast her message far and wide.
      As for RTC: most of the Cllrs stood on a “no to Manston” ticket (they were not underhand about that – it was in their manifests. They were democratically elected.
      They recently had a democratic vote on whether or not to support “Dawes” in her JR application. A majority of Cllrs (the ones who were elected democratically on a “no Manston ” ticket) voted (in a publically accessible meeting) to support the JR.
      How is any of that “sneaky” or “underhand”?

    • Why has RTC used Ramsgate ratepayers money to back an individual, namely Jenny Dawes, to try and overturn something that has been going on for the last 6 years. Has she been asleep or just wants to waste our hard earned money.

    • Seemingly no one ever reads previous comments
      RTC councillors were voted in on a “No to the cargo hub” ticket out of the 15 3 were Thanet indies and want the airpit 1 tory was voted for Pegwell and she refuses to sit. Out of the Ramsgate TDC councillors 75% are against the airport as a cargo hub.
      There was an extraordinary council meeting called after the May 2019 elections report is available on IOTN

    • underhanded approach? and you think a secretary of state for transport approving the airport when his FOUR advisors ALL told him that the airport DCO should in fact NOT be granted. THAT smacks of underhanded i can assure you!

  11. After an intensive 12 month examination of ALL the evidence – for and against – an expert panel concluded the airport proposal – whether it fails or succeeds – will bring harm to Ramsgate, its people, it’s environment, its unique heritage sites and its economy.

    Here’s the kicker …the Secretary of State AGREED with this. In his decision letter he does not dispute it … He just expects the people of Ramsgate to suck it up and allow ourselves to get dumped on.

    Why would any Ramsgate resident want this? It is RTCs civic duty to protect Ramsgate from this harm and £5k-£10k is a small price to pay for doing so.

  12. I understand that the RTC and the councillors may well be under investigation in due course. We will see how that turns out.

  13. A lot of moaning here. I lived under the flight path in the 70/80’s onwards and it was really rather busy then, yes it is going to get noisy again, this often happens when you live near an airport ..Do all stop moaning

      • I remember as a young child and teenager hearing many military planes going over on a daily basis, helicopters from the search and rescue, and with the noise of the hovercraft firing up first thing in the morning as well as the windows rattling from overhead planes i would consider it fairly busy.

        • Hovercrafts don’t fly
          As a child I’m sure it was fun but some of us grew up
          Even the parents of children in the 50’s complained and the USAF moooooved

          • Im talking about noise level in general.And yes guess what , i also grew up and i now live right next to a railway line, i must remember to complain about how noisy that is ,knowing it was there when moving in !

  14. What makes me laugh are the people that slag off the previous owners that they were just in it to make money, like RSP are some sort of philanthropists doing it for the good of Thanet !

    They are an outfit that has never successfully run an airport, in fact the struck-off solicitor at the helm now previously helped Manston fail whilst pocketing taxpayers money on failed ventures… now they promise the world with a business case that will never turn a profit

    Careful what you wish for as the DCO just takes away local representation when it fails again and they want to build houses and that is where their profits will be….

  15. Those people who say that Ramsgate Town Council shouldn’t be spending taxpayers’ money challenging the DCO don’t have a leg to stand on. After the airport closed Thanet District Council spent tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money commissioning viability reports with a view to buying the airport themselves. If you didn’t complain about that colossal wasteof public money you can hardly gripe about the piddling amount which Ramsgate Council is spending. In fact, you probably have even less ground for complaint because the examination conducted by the planning inspectorate found that the airport would be damaging to Ramsgate, both environmentally and economically.

  16. Be careful what you wish for Pros
    “This is my second donation as I’m becoming more and more infuriated by the comments made by the pro argument people – come on everyone, let’s get to that £100k mark.”

  17. “Under the local government act 1972 it is alleged that RTC. Failed to give residents / public adequate notice of their [RTC] intentions to hold an extraordinary general meeting or publish the agenda of their [RTC] intentions to pledge up to £10,000 of public fundsto the crowdfunding appeal calling for a JUDICIAL REVIEW . . If that is the proven case then the legality of the above will be very serious.”

  18. I’m walking backwards to Christmas. Or are they coming to take me away Ha Ha
    Which ever way it is a development Consent Order. i.e. Nothing to do with the Airport Opening.

  19. I’m walking backwards to Christmas or are they coming to take me away Ha Ha.

    Whichever way, It is a Development Consent Order.
    Subject to licences the airport will reopen.

  20. Bless them, I for one can’t wait for the aircraft to return sitting outside at Wetherspoons or on the beach with a beer watching the aircraft land on Rwy 28 and with these heatwaves Manston can be the UK version off Sint Maarten only thing you can’t do in Ramsgate is hold onto the fence. 😎

  21. Town and Parish Councils do not have the power to approve or reject planning applications as they are not planning authorities. They do, however, have to be consulted by the Local Planning Authority as part of the process, and as part of this consultation, they can choose to comment on the planning application. Town and Parish Councils/Councillors may therefore be approached by organisations seeking to develop CLH within their area to seek initial support/soundings as to what may or may not, be acceptable (No mention of allowing taxpayers money to be given away)

  22. Tax payers money and iffy MPs and Cllrs have forced this through, so crowd funding is the most honest thing in this saga.

  23. Your luckly it’s not a RAF base because I grow up in Manston RAF planes can come and go at any time I’m disappointed in people saying the airport shouldn’t open again it will create jobs which that will need in the area I’m all for Manston opening as a airport again Manston is a lovely place to live you don’t need house on the airport site it will destroy Manston as a rural area

    • That’s the last time someone died because they held onto the fence which you’re not meant to do. And having all the houses built all over Kent and other county’s isn’t a disgrace to environmental not to mention HS2 which they already tore down a Ancient woodland during lockdown⁉️

      • Good grief! The blindness of some people to the huge disadvantages of aviation in general is harde to understand. And this thing about houses- the government issues its orders, the government says how many houses should be built in a certain area. The local council agrees on the local plan and in this case the previous council made the idiotic decision to keep the brownfield site where the used to be an airport for aviation only.

        HS2 has nothing whatsoever to do with Thanet. Unlike the travesty which is the proposed Thanet Parkway station.

  24. It’s simple Ramsgate is a dump. Abusive town centre drug addicts, inadequate facilities and young moving away for better opportunities. 200 at a meeting against the thousands that live here is laughable. Thanet needs investment and the airport will give that. The ignorance of those against is absolutely staggering demonstrating lack of foresight and worldly understanding. Maybe not when considering you have a left wing work-shy Benefits focused agenda here.

  25. Lots of comments again about manston !

    The pros never come up with how manston is going to work and compete against other airports.

    Anti’s all know that the figures dont add up, for a number of reasons. No fuel grid, no roads, no rail, not enough houses for the skilled workforce to move into the area, manston in the wrong place.

    Manston has 4 times been a stand alone airport that’s gone bust, now some people believe a struck off solicitor is going to be its savoir. More change if seeing a flying pig !

    The Government ignoring the advice of its inspectors this in itself smells of old school tie.

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