Environmental group launches Manston airport opposition ‘guerrilla campaign’

Protest banner at Shuart Lane bridge, over the A299 Thanet Way in Birchington – near the St Nicholas at Wade turning

Environmental group Extinction Rebellion (XR) Thanet has launched a ‘guerrilla campaign’  today (August 29) to demonstrate its opposition to freight hub plans for Manston Airport.

Banners and posters are being put up in areas which are deemed likely to come under the flight paths, including the A299 at St Nicholas-at-Wade.

RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) was granted development consent by the government in July. The firm says the aim is to reopen the airport in a £300m project to create an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation. Plans for construction include 19 freight stands and four passenger stands for aircraft as well as warehousing and fuel storage to meet forecast demand.

Peter Batt, of XR Thanet, said: “Given the government and so many Kent councils have recognised the need to act by declaring a climate emergency, it is truly staggering that so many of our elected representatives have so abjectly failed to tell the truth and safeguard their communities’ long-term interests.

“Aviation is a significant and growing contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We know from the science that these emissions are altering the chemical balance of the Earth’s atmosphere and leading us towards catastrophic global warming.

“There is no point going for economic growth if it means we won’t be alive to enjoy the benefits.

Outside South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay’s office in Broadstairs

“There are no jobs on a dead planet and it is long since time that our elected representatives took the threat to our climate seriously and rejected schemes like this, which has been judged by planning and aviation experts and unviable and unnecessary.”

Mr Batt says there has not been adequate consultation on the impacts and believes people further afield, in Deal and Whitstable, may not be aware they could come under the flight paths. He also says there is no evidence a cargo freight hub at Manston will be successful.

He said: “In the very unlikely event that the hub becomes successful, its success will create other economic, environmental and health costs which will more than offset its benefits – as the Planning Inspectorate made clear in its final report on the development consent order.”

He added: “The government should be looking to decarbonise our economy so as to ensure a sustainable future. They are failing to do this, and so our campaign at XR Thanet is a vote for people and planet over an unnecessary, noisy and polluting airport.”

DCO stipulations and flight path process

The DCO stipulates the operation of the airport will be subject to a total annual cargo air transport movement limit of 17,170; a total annual passenger air transport movement limit of 9,298; and a total annual general aviation movement limit of 38,000.

At peak there will be five large aircraft movements per hour. The DCO prohibits night flights but a delayed arrival could happen within those restricted hours of 11pm to 6am.

Focus group discussions on options for flight paths began last year. A second stage involved consultation with airspace users, air navigation service providers, local authorities and parish councils.

The results of this are now being prepared into a report. RSP say public consultation will be held at Stage 3 of the air space process and maps represent a number of options put forward to the focus groups which will eventually be refined. Public consultation is likely to take place at the end of the year/beginning of 2021.

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

An RSP spokesperson said: ““The Civil Aviation Authority CAP 1616 process for airspace change is carried out in 7 stages, with 14 very precise steps – each of which takes many months to complete and only when each step is approved by the CAA can you proceed to the next one.

“When the Design Options are produced, based upon the Airspace Design Principles, a comprehensive public consultation will take place during Stage 3 as a key part of the airspace change process where we will take into account the wider views of residents, businesses, communities, the public and other stakeholders.”

The Civil Aviation Authority flight path process will look at areas including how many flights go over Ramsgate and how many go in the direction over St Nicholas-at-Wade. The final flight path decision will be made by the CAA.

Tony Freudmann of RSP

RSP director Tony Freudmann says airport plans include ‘carbon neutral’ measures to meet the Paris Accord and RSP is ‘comfortable’ with the ability to reach those.

He said measures would include: “using electric and hydrogen powered vehicles, keeping the number of road users to a minimum (with the use of local employees) and hopefully being able to take cargo to Port Ramsgate.”

Read here: Barristers issue claim for legal challenge over Manston airport development

Read here: RSP plans for education and training ‘academy’ at Manston airport site


  1. At last! Some scrutiny of this farce of a DCO by a growing movement. Climate change is happening, this year has seen record temperatures across the globe and that’s with a break from pollution during the pandemic. We can’t keep depleting the world’s resources to fulfill capitalism. We need to act now before it’s too late. We don’t need another polluting cargo hub created in Thanet. It’s time to put this nostalgia of an airport to bed, for the sake of our children’s futures.

      • The houses are coming but rather than the majority being spaced out on a large brownfield site, they are going to be squished into every nook and cranny and paving over a large amount of agricultural land in Thanet. You think it’s gridlocked now, wait until the rest are built. It’s not houses or a polluting cargo hub, it’s houses AND a polluting cargo hub.

  2. I have seen no planning application or approval by TDC planning for these signs. Certainly the banner is a distraction and is a safety issue.

    • R, Bet you didn’t complain about the SMA banner that was on the same bridge for weeks. Biased or what?

    • I am, quite frankly, astonished.
      The Planet is on the brink of a climate catastrophe. Temperatures of more than 30 degrees in the Arctic. Russian tundra on fire. Greenland and Antarctic ice caps melting at rate never seen in the history of humankind. Huge storms and hurricanes sweeping across the USA. Wild fires devastating Australia. Water shortages in the SE of England.
      And you’re bleating about a banner?

    • Planning department don’t care they agreed for TF to build houses his company went bust and we gave him millions

  3. As the examiners overwhelmingly recommended refusal of the DCO on so many levels it’s a farce that the government passed it.

  4. One assumes that as with councils a recommendation is put forward to the planning committee for refusal or acceptance. This appears to be the same. A refusal was suggested but this was over ruled therefore granted.

    • The refusal was made by planning experts the decision to approve was made by an inexperienced Minister.

  5. Freudmann is saying the airport will be carbon neutral but that doesn’t include the PLANES,HGVs or FUEL TANKERS needed to service a cargo hub. What a joke !

  6. The DCO was a political decision not one based on the facts or the comprehensive report prepared by the planning inspectorate but more importantly not one for the long term benefit of Thanet.

  7. The difference is the examiners had pages of evidence to back up their position Stephenson had none whatsoever to back his up

  8. I just cannot believe how much rubbish Tony F can spout.

    He said measures would include: using electric and hydrogen powered vehicles – which vehicles are these Tony?

    He said – keeping the number of road users to a minimum (with the use of local employees) – how are they getting to work Tony? Walking?

    And hopefully being able to take cargo to Port Ramsgate. On those electric barges you’ve been talking about? So fly it in, put it in a lorry to get it to the port, then put it on another lorry at the Port of London?

    Could this man make any less sense? Does anyone really believe this tripe?

    Freeze dried tripe.

    Why do we have to read this buffoonery at the end of an XR article?

  9. Well said Emmeline. Every anti-airport article is ‘balanced’ by a load of SMA/RSP rubbish. Funny how the anti view is not added to the end of every RSP fluffery.

    • Every Manston article has a quote or link to the other view, regardless of what side of the fence it is

      • A link or small quote, not a large chunk of the article. I understand that RSP/SMA pay for a lot of advertising, but there is such a thing as journalistic independence.

        • Devery article this news site carries about Manston is always slanted to show RSP in a positive light. The environmental impact of this freight hub is huge – but they only want to slew every report in favour of the business case (which is dubious at least).

  10. An honest group who take/borrow utility barriers that do not belong to them. Some parts will never be carbon neutral considering the amount of hot air coming out of a little corner of East Kent.

    • I don’t recall you objecting to the RSP ‘preparing for rip off’ banner that was there previously.

    • The barriers are actually owned by a member. Someone else seems to have stolen them, probably an airport supporter.

  11. Tony Freudman please note, the CO2 produced by an airport is not about the buildings and vehicles on the ground. It’s the airplanes stupid. A 747 burns around 10-11 tons of fuel an hour in the cruise (about a gallon a second!). Take-off uses much much more. This is the climate problem. Ignore it at your peril.

  12. As usual, an article about Manston that is 90% positive comment about the airport and 10% about valid concerns by local people. Every time. Why not make it properly balanced with equal space given to each? Or is this news site in the pocket of our MPs?

      • I think your word count is wring. I make it 292 to XR, 441 to RSP and DCO. And this in an article ostensibly about XR.

        Picking one of the link articles at the foot, regarding ‘Education and Training facility at Manston, the RSP message gets 1665 words, the anti-RSP a mere 245. I challenge you to word count and publish the numbers for all pro- and anti-Manston articles. IOTN is NOT impartial and balanced, and the proof is in your own articles.

        • I think you are probably including words which are just explanatory, such as the DCO stipulations. Your view is that it is not impartial or balanced. I disagree. I have no strong preference either way for Manston which is why I have always put something from both sides.

  13. No recognition that the world has irrevocably since the coming of the virus pandemic. There will be a lot less business flying and a lot more virtual conferencing as well as much more staycationing so Manston’s only business will be as a smelly cargo depot that would not be viable and we would just have another white elephant 🐘 on our hands,

  14. Yet another load of wasters. They are the real polluters of society with all their banners and graffiti and hot air.

    • How much hot air does an XR protestor produce compared with a 747?
      How is trying to raise public awareness to the dire situation we’re in make someone a “waster”?
      Is Greta Thunberg a “waster?

    • A bit like the pathetic bits of plastic tied up on the fences at Manston which falls off polluting the environment. It’s a disgrace anyone thought up that idea.

  15. where are all the planespotters?
    Looks like they are all away on holiday.
    R and Ann seem to be the only ones not able to afford a holiday

  16. The news is either reporting something that is happening at this moment in time – ie the XR Thanet campaign or reporting verifiable facts.

    Taking just Tony’s quote.

    The Secretary of State Decision Letter clearly states at para 25:

    “The ExA concludes that the Development’s Carbon Dioxide contribution of 730.1KtCO2 per annum, which according to the Applicant forms 1.9% of the total UK aviation carbon target of 37.5 Mt CO2 for 2050, will have a material impact on the ability of Government to meet its carbon reduction targets, including carbon budgets”.

    So I guess Tony’s not right there.

    Further RSP have defined local employees in its Updated Register of Environmental Actions and Commitments as follows “[RSP] would define local labour as those living within a 90-minute commute of Manston Airport, this is based on research by the Impact Assessment Unit at Oxford Brookes University which defined home-based workers as living within a 90-minute commute zone”.

    So I guess Tony’s not right there.

    In the Updated Register of Environmental Actions and Commitments, RSP has committed to the operation of a largely electric Ground Support Equipment (GSE) fleet which will be fully electric (zero emission) by Year 20 and that diesel GSE will largely be bought new and meet current emissions standards.

    So I guess Tony’s not right there.

    As for cargo to Port Ramsgate. On 2 March 2020 the Isle of Thanet News ran a story which started with the paragraph “The Port of London Authority (PLA) has confirmed early talks are underway with RiverOak Strategic Partners over potentially moving freight landed at Manston airport on a route from Ramsgate Port and up the River Thames”.

    In the comments section Isle of Thanet News confirmed that the source of this “confirmation” was RSP not the PLA.

    I understood that after several people had queried its accuracy that Isle of Thanet News was following this up and verifying it with the actual Port of London Authority. Did PLA confirm it?

    • The PLA confirmed talks at the time of writing the article. What wasn’t confirmed was who made the initial approach. I made enquiries about that but did not receive a response

      • Did that mean the claim made by TF cannot be proven?
        Without confirmation maybe that should be clear in the article

        • No, the PLA confirmed talks before the article was written. What wasn’t confirmed was who approached who with the idea

  17. Kathy we do understand that RSP and SMA have paid IOTN thousands of pounds in advertising over the years. Everyone has to make a living; we understand that too. But local press should be a reliable and balanced source of local news items impacting on their readership. Your coverage of the airport is not balanced. Cf the article about the DCO decision. Barely any balancing commentary, it was all about RSP, Gale and Freudmann. If your advertising so seriously affects the integrity of your journalism, I would suggest you are no longer a journalist but rather a promoter.

        • The site is just over 3 years old. SMAa have a poster ad, not a banner. My prices are affordable for small business so they don’t make a fortune. Do you get paid for your job? Do you expect to get paid for your job? Do you work 7 days a week?

          • In answer to your questions, yes, yes and yes. And I am scrupulously impartial in the dissemination of information that may impact my clients.

          • Good. And I make enormous effort to include both views of the Manston situation which is generally a thankless task but I do it anyway

      • Why is it in your opinion necessary to include Tony’s views on a piece of news about an action carried out by environmental activists? If you are reporting ‘news’ then ‘balance’ does not mean what you think it means, as problems with the BBC handling of the reporting of the climate crisis has demonstrated. I assume then that when a covid vaccine is created, you would include the opinion of antivaxxers, for balance.

        Equally, you repeatedly just publish whatever claims are made by the struck off solicitor, without any fact checking.

    • Green Party, Karen Constantine, NNF and Rick Everitt were all in that article. My integrity is in tact, thanks for your input

  18. When people read something in a newspaper or on a website with which they don’t agree, they claim the paper or website is biased. It happens all the time. IOTN in an even-handed and unbiased journalistic enterprise. And I’ve been in the media for more than 40 years.

  19. As I am unable to spend all night monitoring comments this facility will be turned off until the morning

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