Sinkhole opens up on Manston lorry park area

Manston Photo Frank Leppard

Staff from the Environment Agency and Kent County Council are on site at Manston airport after a sinkhole opened up on the runway (UPDATE: RSP boss Tony Freudmann says the hole is on the adjacent taxi runway).

The hole, which is understood to be around one metre wide and 10m deep, opened on Boxing Day and has resulted in the taping off of around 50 lorry spaces.

The site has been in use as a lorry park and had some 3,800 HGVs parked up after the French border was closed to UK travellers just before Christmas. The border reopened on December 23 but Manston was needed as a holding site for the backlog of thousands of trucks that had built up.

It is also being used for a pop up site to administer lateral flow covid tests to hauliers.

The lorry parking site is operated by the Department for Transport (DfT) and managed by former landowner Stone Hill Park.

A spokesperson for the DfT confirmed the sinkhole was on the runway, adding: “Once we became aware of the issue at Manston we acted quickly to ensure the specific area was safely cordoned off, allowing the rest of the airfield to remain in use.”

A special development order allows use of the Manston site as part of the Kent-wide Operation Fennel to hold up to 4,000 HGVs to help cope with possible post EU exit jams at the Port of Dover.

The deal with the Department of Transport for the site to continue to be designated as a ‘EU exit’ lorry park has been extended until the end of June 2021. After this it is expected that full custom controls will be in effect by July, negating the need for further use of the site.

The site is owned by RiverOak Strategic Partners. Tony Freudmann, from RSP, said: “We are awaiting a full report. The DfT is under obligation to fully reinstate the site at the end of their occupation in June.”


    • Two massive underground hangers under that runway. They could hold 3000 men and hide the planes. Built back in 1916 i believe. First World War.

        • I believe there are four at Manston in Kent (WW1) R.AF.Type ‘G’ Aircraft Hangar ? 1936 Design. And where they might be contructed. I believe some were of American design with 5ft thick Detonating slabs to explode incoming shells, buried at approx 10-15ft below surface

          • Hi, I have been studying airfield archaeology for many decades but not yet come across a Type G hangar. Please could you send me details of this hangar type so I can add it to my database. Also the details of this American design. Do not forget that Manston was an emergency landing ground in WW2 and not a standard airfield, the runway being extra long and extra wide for damaged aircraft returning from the continent.

    • Not a lot; the weight is better distributed over the wheels!and each aircraft has a load classification number. The worst civil aircraft was Concorde. We had similar problems at Gatwick and a river flows under the runway.

  1. Sinkhole in a disused runway, being used as a temporary lorry park. Small problem. Sinkholes appearing in a new housing estate big problem.

  2. An opening through which the subterranean dwellers can now escape!! Or am I mixing the runway up with something else?

  3. The place is a disaster waiting to happen, that site is jinxed in every way possible and always has been, it is of no importance to anyone for anything. It should be turned into a reserve and allow nature to take it back. After all we have a government which have set a standard for green efficiency that is impossible to meet, so this will help a little a lorry path or another attempt at another failed airfield on site WON’T.

  4. I totally agree ,these muppets that don’t want an airport but 4 thousand houses, what about the pollution they will cause with themselves and the extra vehicles .

  5. What an opportunity! Developed the sink hole, link it via tunnel to the port, then cargo fron the aircraft can simply be dropped down the hole, straight onto the electric barges.

  6. It’ll be like that scene in Indiana Jones, with Tony and Roger piling the freeze dried fish and racehorses into the carts and racing down the hole to plop out of the cliff at Pegwell.

    Carry on Cargo

  7. The houses are coming Brian, just ask Birchington folk. Supporting Manston cargo hub won’t stop housing development. I couldn’t care less what’s up there as long as it isn’t a giant noxious knackered old cargo station.

  8. A 30 foot hole isn’t going to stop Manston reopening as an airport. There is a technical solution to the problem called “filling it in” Sometimes it requires tanking – eg to protect the aquifer. The Heathrow environmental issue went away and that will happen with Manston – luckily the environmentalists held it up a bit for the new ruling on the Paris Agreement. So no longer as issue for Manston either. The Heathrow Judicial Review effectively saved Manston from future environmental complaints. Its funny how things turn out! 😂

    • Major Ps, the DfT did not choose to defend their decision on environmental grounds. They realised that the Minister had not put forward any credible grounds that the DCO was likely to be successful – therefore it was not needed.

    • The decision to grant the Manston DCO was made AFTER the UK 2050 net zero commitment passed into law, so the Heathrow judgement won’t apply here.

    • I think the issue with a hole under the runway (which might or might not be easy to fill) is that there could be more holes, anywhere on the site.
      If I were the CAA, I wouldn’t grant a licence until a geophysics analysis of the whole (hole) site had been carried out.

  9. Probably a tunnel built by Americans further vinvestigation and they will find all sorts of vehicles that were left behind

  10. There really are some odd balls on here. Typical Thanetonians. Backward thinking, well, just generally backwards…
    This area has absolutely nothing to offer, no long term employment opportunities, with a derelict airport and port.
    If you don’t like infrastructure, don’t move near it!!! It’s been there for over a 100 years, or maybe you didn’t know eh.

    • quite right too half or maybe all the residents that complain about the airport knew it was there but still moved here anyway as they say they should put up or move away

        • The comment is not rubbish it is true if you do not like what is happening in Thanet then please feel free to leave I will not be on the road to stop you oh sorry you do not drive but you do like insulting people don’t you?

          • I don’t want an airport, but I intend to stay and help ensure one never gets built. I’m sorry if that means your grandchildren are unable to snag lucrative and fulfilling roles as baggage handlers or tarmac operatives, but perhaps they might aspire to something better? Perhaps, heaven forbid, they might eventually move out of Thanet and seek opportunities elsewhere?

          • Actually the way it works is if you don’t like it you campaign to change things in the area you live. It’s called democracy. Telling people to leave because you don’t agree with them is fascism.

      • There hasn’t been an airport of any sort for 6 years. There’s never been a successful commercial airport at Manston

    • The airport has not been here for over 100 years.
      The commercial airport has only been here for about 25 years, and during that time it lost a total in the region of £100M.
      The DCO was turned down because (amongst other things) RSP and the SoS failed to present a credible case for need (something the experts have universally said). The JR was not defended by the SoS nor by RSP. In 3ffect, they accept that a credible case for need was made.
      In view of the collapse in the aviation industry, that case is weakened even more.
      And if H3 gets the go-ahead, then there will be absolutely no case whatsoever for any other sort of airport expansion in the SE for decades to come, if ever.

      • The airfield was built in 1916 and it was used until 1996. It is now 2021 so it really has been there for over 100 years. But yes only been a commercial airport as opposed to an airfield for less than the total time it has existed.

  11. I was told that there are tunnels there that the troops could drive a jeep through to Pegwell Bay. There are no plans. Or at least none made available.

  12. What a unique sales pitch – Manston Caves, homes for troglodytes!
    Best story of the year – glad no-one descended by accident.

  13. I think that a lot of people are totally obvious to what actually lies beneath the grounds of Manston, a hole the size of 50 HGV’s at an average of 40tonnes a piece, well you do the maths!! what did they really expect, the area is not jinxed, it was built for a specific purpose in a very short space of time, in fairness it is a credit to the men who built and worked on it, it palyed a vital role in the war, the war which gave the people of England FREEDOM, let us just watch the next generations destroy this legacy

  14. What a fascinating story. So a hole has opened up and rather than looking at the aquifer that runs the length of the runway, some people a convinced that the Americans have been digging. I personally think it is the unicorn farm hatching.

    Open the place up as a water park. Then RSP can get boat planes! Everyone will be happy.

    • there’s one of those planned for Ramsgate port in the future along with an amusement park,housing, light industrial units and shops which will surely help to kill off Ramsgate town centre will not be on my doorstep though.Quite right about the aquifier Iam assured by an ex waterboard worker that the pipe does indeed run the length of the runway and it supplies most of Thanet with its water.

      • Most of Thanet does not get its water from a pipe under the runway at Manston.
        You are in danger of being labelled an “ignorant woman”
        There is a pipe that runs from Manston down to Pegwell Bay. It’s causing RSP a few headaches because they need the freehold of the land through which the pipe runs: that’s a score or two of landowners they’ve got to negotiate with.

      • Manston aquifer was banned from use 2019 by DEFRA Drinking Water Inspectorate. Highly persistent and toxic firefighting foam was used for decades up to a ban 2007 when Drinking Water Inspectorate issued warning ignored by TDC and SWA.

        The toxic residue PFOA is soluble and spreads quickly. Manston sourced PFOA had four toxic spread routes. Airborne, ground water, drinking water (Which gathered in adit 150 feet below runway) and surface drainage Pegwell outfall

        Public Health England issued PFOA warning 2009 again ignored by TDC and SWA. This should have featured in Environmental Impact Assessment for Bretts Development. Bretts are now holding internal inquiry re TDC concealment of water supply risk IE Have Bretts got a PFOA contaminated site and have they flogged a lot of contaminated concrete

        SWA (Under Water Supply Laws) and TDC/KCC (Under NHS CCG planning laws) have a duty to report the toxic hazards to the NHS CCG

        The QEQM has never tested blood serum for PFOA contamination. Its hazards include pre-eclampsia, foetal damage foetal morbidity.

        I reported this to Dr Kirkup inquiry QEQM maternity tragedies (As QEQM, TDC and KCC and cllrs like Karen Constantine and “SONIK” group were concealing the facts contrary to law and contrary to Inquest Law Common Law reporting duty) The Kirkup inquiry has scheduled research.

        When the Environment Agency enforces UN Stockholm Convention . Manston may not be a problem. But the toxic spread could be. On top of The Manston PFAS problem is another persistent organic pollutant problem subject of UN Stockholm Convention. Polychlorinated bi phenyls buried by GEC at Westwood and Pegwell.

        The PCBs at Westwood Cross were/are close to the Sericol Cyclohexanone leak (Hundreds of tonnes) which contaminated Thanet water supply 1963 to 1993 undetected.

        Best hope is that most PFOA went out Pegwell outfall. Just don’t eat local caught fish. Don’t buy local grown salad or veg and don’t shop at Westwood Cross.

        Significant serum levels of PFOA reduce immune response and compromise certain vaccines.

        Happy New Year

  15. After reading all the comments is the sink hole in the runway itself or in the extra expansion that they laid to cope with all the hgv’s . As that would be more like it as concord landed on the main runway before they were taken out of service and also it was a main runway for the defence of this country for a very long time .

  16. Why are most people so against the airport?
    Wake up, it’s not costing you anything because it’s someone else putting in the money for the redevelopment!
    Manston can become a moderately successful airport but not to the extent that it disrupts lives.

    • But it can’t. As a small, regional airport it never made money. It was losing £10k a day at the end, and lost £100ms over its lifetime.
      The only way it could make money would be to have 10,000s of flights a year, including night flights. That’s why RSP applied for a DCO, to try and establish that Manston was a “Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project” and would handle vast amounts of cargo.
      The Planning Inspectorate, Aviatio Experts and the technical press more or less took the opposite view.
      Whatever it might be, Manston is unlikely ever to be any sort of commercially successful airport.

    • I would expect that a runway designed to carry the weight of a fully laden cargo plane would cope with some trucks.
      The motorway hard shoulder has no problems.

    • I understood that one point of a DCO was to take the local authority (ie TDC in this case) out of the equation. So looking on TDC’s web site wouldn’t tell us anything about Manston.
      However, looking on *this* web site tells us that there’s a blooming great big hole under the runway.

    • A few Brexiteers claimed that Macron only closed the border to put pressure on the UK to sign the deal. If so, then it worked a treat as the deal is very good for France. The deal maintains tariff free trading in goods where France have a big surplus with the UK. Boris’ deal doesn’t cover services (which the UK has a surplus) including the highly valuable financial services. This means going forward the EU can dictate terms on services being provided by the UK.

      As the late Bill MacLaren might have said “they’ll be dancing on the streets of Paris tonight”.

  17. Reading this out to my elderly Dad ,he says there are wartime holding tunnels under the airport ?

  18. Every person has the right to an opinion even if that opinion is not the same as yours, you have no right to attack some on here the way you do o k some people say silly things but we have all done that in our lives and if you say you haven’t you are telling porkies picking on people is shameful and those that do it and you know who you are should be ashamed of yourselves. Here endeth the lesson.

  19. Tell you what. Lets build the 17.5 thousand houses on Thanet farmland that will get planning permission. The farm land has now been designated for RESIDENTIAL housing anyway.
    Then start to build the 5-6 thousand houses on Manston Airport. SHP always under stated the numbers.
    Great 30,000 + cars with 66 +thousand extra residents.
    Oh yes lets turn the old Fire Training area into dwellings also. What shall we say another 2,000 dwellings.
    Don’t worry about employment the state will look after everyone.
    When we want to go on holiday lets all pay a to go onto the M20 and M25.
    I am so pleased I live in Thanet with all this forward planning and thinking.

  20. Well R if the pro airport mob had actually listened to what people were saying a lot of those houses would have gone on Manston a brownfield site instead of greenfield land being included in on the local plan. So now we will have houses and airport or houses and houses so well done to people like Pritchard, Webber and Gale none of whom would have been under the flight path

  21. Clearly, it’s always been a hole and it should be kept as a hole. Changing it to a runway goes against it’s history as a hole. If you don’t like holes you shouldn’t have moved near one.

    • Maybe his midget submarine.

      The pro-manstonites are fond of wartime aviation nostalgia. They admonish the antis for not knowing the history.

      What better than to invite the pros to share their knowledge? What damage did the Luftwaffe dish out ? What demolition preparations were made by the likes of Mad Mike Calvert and Peter Fleming during WW2? And what scorched earth demolition activity did joint GLADIO/SBS get up to in 1989?

      In the DCO process TDC admitted to failure to protect the water supply aquifer and cited the unaddressed contaminants as WW2 FIDO, Significant amounts asbestos, Radiological substances and residue of PFAS firefighting foam.

      I called in DEFRA DWI in 2019 to secure a ban on Manston aquifer as a public water supply source. I have yet to see a pro.Manston insist on being re-plumbed to their daily fix of Manston nostalgia juice.

      I have never been anti Manston nor pro. I am pro law

      The fact remains that the Minister took his DCO decision while Police, Environment Agency and NHS inquiries, relating to Manston, remain open.

  22. Fully laden A380 is around 500 tonnes and a 747 420 tonnes – seems some further surveying required before reopening as an airfield.

    • I think it’s highly unlikely that a fully laden anything (not even an electric barge) is ever going to land at Manston.

  23. Any one seen the muppets from KCC or EA looking into the hole yet or are they just looking at the whole problem? THESE MUPPETS ARE JUST SERVANTS OF THE GREATER MUPPETS IN GOVERNMENT RIGHT NOW. Take care dears the muppets might do some decent work one day but no idea when as they are looking into it still.

  24. Any one seen the muppets from KCC or EA looking into the hole yet or are they just looking at the whole problem? THESE MUPPETS ARE JUST SERVANTS OF THE GREATER MUPPETS IN GOVERNMENT RIGHT NOW. Take care dears the muppets might do some decent work one day but no idea when as they are looking into it still.

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