Date set for Manston airport Judicial Review hearing

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

A substantive hearing date has been set for the legal challenge over the government’s decision process in granting permission for the development of Manston airport.

The substantive hearing – which involves the lodging of  evidence from the defendant, and interested party -will take place at the High Court on February 16-17.

The review will look at whether the Government followed correct procedure in reaching the decision to approve the DCO for landowners 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.

The JR bid was launched by Ramsgate  Coastal Community Team chairperson Jenny Dawes with a crowdfunder raising some £86,000 in pledges to date.

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 the cause.

In October the Honourable Mrs Justice Lang DBE  granted permission for the Judicial Review and agreed a costs cap, meaning if the case falls Ms Dawes will only be expected to pay a limited amount of incurred expenditure.

RSP says it will reopen the airport in a £300m project to create an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation.

Ms Dawes says her action was launched due to fears for the impact locally – particularly Ramsgate – and on the climate.

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

What is the JR process?

Judicial review (JR) is the process of challenging the lawfulness of decisions of public authorities, usually local or central government.  The court has a “supervisory” role – making sure the decision maker acts lawfully.  A JR is not a re-run on the merits of the decision but a challenge to the lawfulness of the decision that was made.

JR requires permission from the Court.  The application for permission for JR has to be made within 6 weeks from the date of the decision for planning cases and within three months for non-planning cases.

The first step in the JR procedure is to write a formal letter to the proposed defendant setting out the proposed claim and what is being sought.  This is known as a pre-action protocol (or PAP) letter.

If the response to the PAP is deemed unsatisfactory  a JR claim (in the Planning Court or Administrative Court – branches of the High Court handling JR cases) can be made.  The first stage is to apply for “permission” to apply for JR.  The test for obtaining permission to proceed is that you have an arguable case.

The defendant will then generally submit a “summary grounds of defence” to explain why it is unarguable and permission should not be granted.

If permission is granted, the claim proper can proceed to the substantive stage. The court receives evidence from the defendant, and interested party.

Counsel for both sides will submit “skeleton arguments” – summaries of the respective legal cases. The judge should pre-read these and essential parts of the papers. If this is done, the hearing itself can proceed quite rapidly. JRs seldom take more than three days and many are over within one day.

The judge may deliver judgment there and then or orally shortly afterwards, or it may be “handed-down” in writing later.

After judgment is given, there is usually argument about who pays the costs, and whether permission should be given to appeal the decision.

Judges usually refuse permission to appeal, and one has to apply to the Court of Appeal directly for permission.

The general rule remains that the loser pays the winner’s costs. In environmental cases the Aarhus Convention requires that legal proceedings must not be “prohibitively expensive” although cost limits apply only in claims brought by members of the public.

In the case of the Manston JR the court has imposed a cost limiting order cap limiting the amount Ms Dawes will have to pay towards the Secretary of State and RSP’s combined costs – if she loses – to £5,000.

If the Secretary of State and RSP lose, the amount they will have to pay towards Ms Dawes costs has been limited to £35,000 each – a total of £70,000.

JR process source Richard Buxton Solicitors


  1. Well at last the Govt are being held to task to justify their weird decision to go against 4 experienced Planning Inspectors.
    They lost the Heathrow 3 decision on environmental grounds so at least one precedence has been set

    • Shapps has also rejected the Planning Inspectorate’s recommendation to say no to the proposal for a road tunnel near Stonehenge.

    • “God Help Us”, the “weird decision to go against 4 experienced Planning Inspectors” happens frequently. The latest example, the A303 Stonehenge Decision is just one of many examples (there were four experienced Planning Inspectors in that case).

      The Government didn’t lose the Heathrow 3 decision. Firstly, the Government isn’t the Applicant in the Heathrow 3 project. Secondly, the Heathrow 3 project has not been submitted, much less been accepted for Examination or gone through an Examination leading to any Report by any Examining Authority. What was lost was a judicial review of the Department for Transport’s Airports National Planning Policy Statement. That’s an entirely different thing. There still has never been a successful Judicial Review of any consented Development Consent Order. It is highly unlikely that the Manston Airport DCO will be successfully stopped by the current Judicial Review. The most that would happen, if the Appeal succeeds, is that the Government (who are the defendant, not RSP, who are an Interested Party) will be asked to reconsider some particular aspect of its decision. That won’t likely long delay matters and would be likely to produce nothing more than a slightly amended statement of reasons by the Decision Maker (in the Department for Transport) for coming to the same decision.

      • Sorry, there were FIVE experienced Planning Inspectors in the A303 Stonehenge Examination. As in the Manston Airport DCO, the Secretary of State did not undertake the Examination: another Minister in his Department did so on behalf of the Secretary of State, just as in the case of the Manston Airport DCO.

    • And I bet most of the people that don’t want Manston to reopen as a airport weren’t even born here and other’s typical nimby’s !!!
      Manston was an airport when I was born and long may it remain as an airport.

      • It is not an airport now, and not wanting an increase in local noise and pollution is no nimbyism. Many people who don’t want an airport at Manston just don’t want airports,full stop.

        • don’t want anything in the area of glorious Ramsgate do you Marva? The rise in air pollution from thousands more cars on our roads should worry you more than a few flights from Manston

      • I agree one hundred percent with your comments, I’ve lived in Ramsgate since the early seventies and had absolutely no problem living in close proximity of an airport. Further more I live under the flight path and actually miss the sounds of aircraft arriving and leaving Manston. Before it closed as an airport I witnessed a then modern large passenger aircraft coming in on its approach to Manston with virtually no noise, less than the vehicle traffic passing by my home. I hope to see the airport reopened as soon as possible.

  2. Terrific explanation on the JR process and its application re costs caps – thanks for adding the source of the info too. Thank you Kathy and IOTN

  3. “ The general rule remains that the loser pays the winner’s costs. In environmental cases the Aarhus Convention requires that legal proceedings must not be “prohibitively expensive” although cost limits apply only in claims brought by members of the public.

    In the case of the Manston JR the court has imposed a cost limiting order cap limiting the amount Ms Dawes will have to pay towards the Secretary of State and RSP’s combined costs – if she loses – to £5,000.

    If the Secretary of State and RSP lose, the amount they will have to pay towards Ms Dawes costs has been limited to £35,000 each – a total of £70,000.”

    I have pointed out to interested parties that Ms Dawes is NOT* just a member of the public she is Chairperson Jenny Dawes of Ramsgate Coastal Community team. So not a member of the public as defined in the JR act with her having that role.
    [*Even if Dawes gives up the role now it still means that she was chairperson when the JR request was made..
    Therefore the cap of £5,000 is not legal or fair on taxpayers. Not withstanding where the rest of the crowdfunding money will go.]

    • Why are you bothered Ann, you keep telling us that RSP have a watertight case and have no chance of losing 🙂 🙂

    • Not legal or fair????. I should think the judge knows the law. Obviously you know better. Keyboard Lawyers.

      • It’s ok, nobody has taken any notice of all the hot air spewed in anger so far on anything said by Ann. She can’t be much of an expert!

    • Oh, Ann, congratulations on your admission to the Bar, I am sure you have raised your concerns in the appropriate legal matter regarding the judge ruling. Does “fairness” also apply to the money spent by TDC on report after report on the economic viability of the many-times-failed airfield…?

  4. I seem to remember pritchard stated that
    1. Aarhus had been repealed (he was wrong)
    2. Ramsgate Town Council would have to pay if the JR fell (he was wrong)
    3. Jenny would have to pay all costs if the JR fell (he was wrong)

    • “God Help Us” (whoever you are): I never said that Aarhus had been repealed, but its relevance to the present case depends upon pleadings we haven’t seen. The question re. RTC would arise if RTC (which is not a “member of the public”) were to be a “party” to the claim. At the relevant time, RTC was in effect a party to the claim but may have wriggled out of that one: they paid their money directly into court and were considered to be an interested party because of that. That may yet be a matter for argument. If the JR fell and RTC were still considered to be a party, they would have to pay costs. The question of whether Jenny Dawes is really a private person may also be a matter for argument. It is clear that she may be regarded as a front for NNF and other social media groups. The Aarhus Convention cost limitations was intended to protect genuine whistleblowers. Nothing in Jenny Dawes’ submissions to the Examination or in her Relevant Representations suggests that she was any kind of whistleblower. If in court her standing as an individual claimant or standing as a whistleblower is ‘blown away’ and a true relationship between her and NNF comes to be revealed, then the costs limitations might well be over-reached. We’ll have to wait and see. But the fact that NNF has gone as ‘dark’ as possible ever since Jenny Dawes emerged from the shadows may speak volumes. Then, of course, the question about her capacity to pay more than the amount capped in the judge’s original ruling (or more than the slightly greater amount provided in the Aarhus Convention) may become a very live issue. We’ll have to wait and see, dear “God help us”. But is the prat who hides behind the sobriquet “God help us” a well-known member of NNF or simply a troll or both?

      • I think you are writing tripe, as usual.
        I’m pretty sure the Judge who approved the Application knew what she was talking about.
        And so what? If Aarhus doesn’t apply, and the JR fails, then people will step up to the plate. Including RTC. (I notice that all the threats of taking them to the Ombudsman and so on have come to nothing)
        And I don’t quite think that what Ms Dawes is attempting can really be described as “whistleblowing”.
        If you want examples of going “dark”, look no further than SMAa’s website. !0th July is their latest statement. The previous one was 28th May (2019)!
        Are you getting a little rattled? It’s not your usual form to resort to name-calling; just writing pages of impenetrable stuff.

      • “the present case depends upon pleadings we haven’t seen” didn’t stop you procrastinating. However the judge has and her verdict is the one that matters.
        “The Aarhus Convention cost limitations was intended to protect genuine whistleblowers.” Under Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention,14 the cost of litigating certain environmental cases must not be “prohibitively expensive”. To comply with
        this obligation, claimants in environmental judicial review cases can choose
        to restrict the costs they will have to pay the other side if the claim fails to
        £5000. There is also a cap of £35,000 on the costs that can be recovered from the defendant. Both sides can apply to court to amend these figures” the appropriate words are “environmental cases” not whistleblowing cases.
        “But the fact that NNF has gone as ‘dark’ as possible ever since Jenny Dawes emerged from the shadows may speak volumes.” seems you are looking in the right places.
        Many in your circles know who I am, the fact you don’t speaks more to your intelligence than anything else
        BTW resorting to insults also says much about you

        • 2God Help us”, I recognise your stylistic fingerprints, and I’m 99% sure that I know who you are, but I’m quite content to observe that hiding behind a sobriquet within a small community like Thanet speaks volumes.

          • LOL
            with that answer it becomes apparent you don’t

            BTW how’s your mate doing, you know the one who had to resign as councilor because he got caught stealing valour. You know Bob jug ears.
            Did he leave Thanet?

          • I’m 100% sure that I know *what* you are, Dr Pritchard.
            Anyone heard from Beau Webber lately, or has he gone “dark”?

  5. Well now we know the date of the Hearing ..
    The Judge will make a decision that should be binding ..
    That does not stop the Airport Development.. It may slow the process, but it won’t stop the rebuild..
    Not much could be done onsite until the Op Brock contract expires in June ..
    Interesting that the Stone Henge DCO was granted this week, also against the Planning Inspectorates advice …Will that too be subject to a JR application?

  6. I think there will be a couple of reasons challenging the airport.
    The first is funding and investment.
    RSP haven’t got any. They hope to raise the funds through investment and bank loans. Would you invest in this project in this climate? Would your bank loan £Ms, with huge uncertainty about ability of RSP (headed by a crooked ex-solicitor) to make interest payments?
    If the airport ever does stagger off the ground, it is most unlikely ever to make a profit, say *all* the experts.

  7. Andrew. The best time to invest in a business is when it’s on its knees or lower then it can only go up if it’s already down. Don’t forget Glogh bought the airport for a £1 and sold it for millions to little and large.

    • Bill, it was not just £1, the buyer also had to bear other costs. But even at £1, it only makes sense to invest in a business with the potential to offer returns on any investment. The cargo airfield has got no potential, as an aviation business. It would have been snapped up otherwise by UK tax-paying, transparent, credible business owners otherwise.

      • Louise Congdon of York Aviation did an analysis of RSP’s business plan, such as it is, and concluded that RSP would have to charge such high landing fees in order to service the loans and so on that no one would use the place.
        However, Ms Congdon hadn’t factored in electric barges, nor the use of Ramsgate Station to move cargoes.

    • Gloag (that is how you spell he surname) didn’t just buy it for a £1 she took all the debts as well.
      Try consulting a solicitor before engaging your keyboard

    • And why didn’t RSP buy it from Gloag for £1? The s ex solicitor Tony Freudmann already had a foot in the door.
      Instead RSP bought it from SHP … for millions!

  8. The investors will be interested in Manston….. but not as an airport. For the foreseeable future the aviation industry is too risky. Covid will go but we don’t have a brexit vaccine.

    The only business with a guaranteed return in the UK is property.

    • Glenn, that isn’t relevant to the Judicial Review, and it is, in fact, dead wrong. The DCO, as granted, precludes its use as anything but an airport and so did the terms of sale of the airport to RSP by SHP. The investors appear to be satisfied that the long term future of that airport will be highly profitable, and the proposition that the only business with a guaranteed return in the UK is property is risible, as a great many property owners have found. Finally, to point out the obvious, Manston IS a property: it is an airport property. It is not and cannot and will not become a housing estate.

      • “so did the terms of sale of the airport to RSP by SHP.” Completely and utterly wrong. There is a covenant between SHP and RSP to the effect that should RSP sell some or all of the Manston site, they have to give first dibs to SHP.
        And who said anything about a JR? Glenn was pointing out that with/without DCO/JR, RSP will find it very difficult in the current climate to attract investment.

      • Manston is only an airport on the Local Plan until a decision is made should the DCO be quashed TDC have reserved the right to a review and could be changed to mixed use again

      • Oh goodness what a load of nonsense! Manston is in a very poor position for being any kind of hub. What the hell is the matter with you, Mr. Pritchard? Have you absolutely no concern for the environment in general and for your locality and its inhabitants in particular?

      • Maybe the Dr should realise that RSP and SHP are just pulling the wool over your eyes, they have been in this together for a long time with the ultimate ambition of houses. A few million spend here and there, ownership changing hands, it is peanuts in the grand scheme of things with potential £billions of profit. And we know that Sir Roger is recommending housing in the MOD area when they pull out…..

      • Freudman will ensure the building of the houses of course Pritchard, that’s been his plan for decades.

        What a shock awaits you 😉

  9. With respect to the JR process: it’s interesting to note that the application has jumped every hurdle, right from day 1 until permission for a Hearing, gathering with it along the way a limit to costs.
    I wonder how the claims by Stuart Stuart Piper and “Ann” are going against RTC? It’s all gone very quiet after the huffing and puffing.

    • Phyllis, you realise that the development fell at EVERY hurdle right? The only one it managed to pass was the DCO.

      Hopefully it will revert to type, and fall at the JR hurdle:)

  10. Can’t wait to see all you SMA bods crying into your cornflakes come 1st Jan 2021. Brexit and the resultant customs clusterfuck (beta test for new systems starts 23rd December LOL) will see the site used as a holding pen for at least 16-24 months.

  11. “Phyllis” yes this Is Ann I don’t know why you think I’m not entitled to use the name that’s on my birth certificate.
    Of course I could pretend my name was Lawrence or Phyllis. As for my complaints re: RTC they are being investigated and will be “acted upon in 2021” after the JR has concluded. “They have highlighted a number of issues” you will see all in good time.

    • Who is “investigating”? What on Earth is the point in “acting upon” your “complaint” *after* the JR?
      If you’re “concerned” about RTC “pledging” £10,000 to the JR “campaign “, wouldn’t it be “better” to action your action *before* the JR?

  12. Great article. Great news. Democracy marches on, and with it this this judicial review and the thousands who are in support locally, nationally and globally. The rallying cry is loud.

    The yes decision was made even before the DCO assessment, we all know it and Grant Shapps can hide behind Andrew Stephenson for only too long.

    It has always smelled fishy. Matey. Illogical. Unfair. Not needed. Not right. Ramsgate will not roll over for these plane spotting obsessives and we’ll keep fighting the good fight.

    Can’t wait listen to the examination….

    “Erm.. well we just wanted to… we felt like it… erm yes I know the inspectors thought it was a bad idea, and so does the evidence but yeh.. but no…. but yeh but yeh but cos we want airplanes… and Roger said so.. and Grant has a plane and and and.. oh Tony invented a lekky barge right… and you plug it in and charge it up and everything…. and it floats. Floats? Yes.. it floats.. we’re gonna put the freeze dried fish and the racehorses on the barges.. ”

    Say no to the absurd prospect of a cargo hub at Manston and let’s all move on.

    • You forgot the daffs. I spoke to that Sally Dixon person at a “con”sultation, and I asked her if specialist cargoes meant, for example, crates of cut daffs. “Yes”, she eagerly assured me.
      “Tulips from Amsterdam?” I mused. She looked a bit confused about this, so went on to wax lyrical about the 300,000 jobs that would be created.

  13. All the previous comments are irrelevant the review should never have been granted some people never know when to admit defeat!!!!.

    • The judge seems to think the review should be granted. I wonder why. Could it be that she knows more about the law than Richard or Ann or even, unlikely though it is, R.John Pritchard?

  14. Is that like when the DCO shouldn’t have been accepted for examination?

    Unlike the rules for NSIP, the criteria for a JR would appear to have been met so far.

    According to the law of our land.

    Not everything is twisted my mates with planes who make decisions just cos they feel like it and just cos they think they can do whatever they want.

  15. Pritchard is in Disneyland.

    Investment into the UK has collapsed. Britain was risky before Covid, now its unpredictable. Johnson’s handling of the country has spooked investors to just play safe. Even Warren Buffet would not give Manston a second look.

    When it’s time for RSP to show the Color of their money it’s bye bye.

  16. One point about the JR process and costs.

    For most people £5,000 is real money.

    With no cap, Joe public could not take on Governments or Corporations who have practically limitless funds.

    People may get heated bout this case, but need to think through the implications.

  17. Seem to remember Bob writing a long diatribe saying why a JR wouldn’t succeed mostly because it wouldn’t be accepted as there were no grounds ?

  18. Grant Shapps has his reason for keeping this project on track,could be a few reasons.
    So much politicking activity happening at the moment, lots of cummings & goings. Anything can happen.
    Can see the airport reopening as a positive, it could be renamed “Boris isle airport”

    • “Manston airport is historic “.
      Just leave it at that.
      It plainly never was a “much needed airport”. If it had been, it wouldn’t have closed.
      Goodness me.

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