Director resigns from Manston airport proposal company to ‘pursue new opportunities in US’

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

One of the directors of RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) – the company proposing to create an air freight hub at the Manston airport site.

Niall Lawlor resigned his position on September 27. He had been with the company since its UK inception in December 2016 and in its American forerunner formerly RiverOak Investment Corp prior to the UK arm purchasing all rights and interests.

Mr Lawlor’s experience is in fixed income, capital markets and private equity. He has worked on commercial loan assets and opportunistic real estate investments in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe.

A statement from RSP says: “Niall Lawlor has left the board of RSP and its subsidiaries after serving for four years.

“We understand he is pursuing new opportunities in the US where he and his young family have their home.

“The board of RSP would like to record their thanks to Niall for his commitment to the cause of Manston and wish him well in his future endeavours.”

It is understood Mr Lawlor, who comes from Connecticut, has not been to the UK since the covid pandemic hit.

Remaining directors are former Chairman of PlaneStation Tony Freudmann, Helix Fiduciary co-founder Nick Rothwell, Swiss  Client Relationship Manager for Bank Julius Baer & Co Gerhard Hüsler, Swiss financial planner Rico Seitz and American real estate and equity specialist George Yerrall.

A Development Consent Order granting approval for RSP’s air freight hub at Manston airport last July was quashed in February this year with a new decision now needing to be issued after a re-examination of the Planning Inspectorate evidence.

The action came as the result of a Judicial Review challenge to the decision, launched by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes last year, which was to have been heard in the High Court.

The substantive hearing was due to look at whether the Government followed correct procedure in reaching the decision to approve the DCO for airport landowners RiverOak Strategic Partners.

But, last December the Department of Transport acknowledged that the decision approval letter issued from the Minister of State did not contain enough detail about why approval was given against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate and said the Judicial Review would not be contested.

An official consent order from the court was issued to quash the approval and the new decision letter is yet to be published.

The site is in ownership of RSP after a £16million buy out from previous owners Stone Hill Park who had hoped to gain permission for a multi-use housing, business and leisure development.

87 Comments

  1. Be really good to have the airport back, more full time and better paid jobs than the usual minimum wage jobs currently serving yuk coffee.

  2. Can you imagine what the queues at the petrol stations would be like if we had houses built on Manston ! And appointments at doctors ! Hopefully the airport will reopen again , it’s the best of two evils !

  3. Just look at the qualifications of these people. Juggling with finance and property speculation (aka opportunistic real estate investments.) Why would anybody in his right mind think they have any concern for the welfare of the people of Ramsgate?

    • Good point – not a shred of aviation knowledge between them – just absent speculators and asset strippers out to make quick buck at someone else’s expense.

  4. Just get the airport open. All this tripe about pollution look at what is spewing out at the La Palma volcano what can the climate change bods do about that?.? Nothing at all, the volcano is producing more pollution in 24 hours than the U.K. produce in 5 years ( BBC Today programme)

    • The “pollution” produced by the volcano is about average for volcanic activity for the past 100,000 years. The global warming currently taking place – since the late 18th century – is completely associated with humans burning fossil fuels. And we *can* do something about that.

      As to the airport: had there been a need for it, it wouldn’t have closed in the first place.

      I wonder what experience and qualifications the remaining board members of RSP have when it comes to running airports? The MD has a considerable track record of overseeing the demise of airports.

  5. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. It’s like Brexit,the reality just isn’t turning out to be what everyone wanted.

  6. Naill Lawlor is an extremely unpleasant and foul mouthed individual. Not only did he swear at people attending one of RSP’s “consultations”, but he was pulled up by the Planning Inspectors at the DCO enquiry for the same reason, too.
    I doubt that he will be visiting Ireland any time soon (the Irish tax people are keen to talk to him) and New York (where he has been accused of assault) is probably not a destination of choice.

    As for the airport: even if it did happen (and it won’t, hence Lawlor jumping ship (or electric barge)) it wouldn’t make a shread of difference to the number of houses Thanet has to build. I’m astonished that anyone should bring this up. Where have they been?

    • Blinded by the thought of thousands of jobs that will never happen. If It ever should reopen, which is highly unlikely given the current situation, then it will be driven out of business very quickly by those existing cargo handling airports that already do everything Manston could do but more efficiently and at a lower cost.

      • Louise Congdon of York Aviation pointed out that in order to attract business, Manston would have to charge such low rates that they would not be able to pay dividends to investors.
        Not a particularly enticing statistic to put in your brochure. And RSP do need to attract more than £300,000,000.00 of investment to get the project off the ground.
        And let’s not mention the High Resolutiln Direction Finder aerial that the MOD will not move.

  7. If we are going to get the houses anyway, why not have the airport? The area will get built up anyway so what the hell? Might as well have the business and jobs

  8. Bring it on! We need the airport up and running ASAP. Jobs, business, wealth creation. About time Thanet stopped being a decrepit back-water

  9. The airport needs to be opened and up and running. Thanet desperately needs a change of identity away from a land of low aspiration depressing minimum-wage employment. Also replace the spivs and shysters with real business connected with the rest of the country and world. Throw out the property speculators also. A new Manston Airport will be the start of a sorely needed socio-economic culture-change in Thanet

    • Thanet is fast becoming a popular tourist attraction, as anyone walking around during the harbour and nearby village areas could witness. A noisy, dirty freight hub would kill that stone dead. I hope it never happens. Need to maybe use the area for a water park or other tourist attraction.

  10. John- that’ll be the socio-economic change that an airport inspired before – failed at the same place and with the same struck-off solicitor running it; you know, the one who misappropriated clients’ money? That’s the same socio-economic change that had significantly more unemployment in Thanet when the airport was last operational?

    What wonderful ambitions you have for Thanet, particularly Ramsgate that’ll be ‘detrimentally affected’ by the proposals.

  11. So a director resigns, how can that affect the future of aviation at Manston.
    Que a new director, with new ideas and influence !
    Rsp are nearly there,Their wording on many documents has been defective and is being corrected.That’s it. Permission for an operational airport again.

    The secretary of state has keep the project alive, everyone should know why by now.

    Nothing to do with the jr or what locals say, Others will have opinions but no facts.

    • Er, an operational airport with no business. 19 freight stands standing idle, as all the freight is adequately being handled by other UK airports who will fight tooth and nail to keep that business. Passenger flights will never rise to to the levels they were before the pandemic and even freight will tail off as people seek greener options.

    • I’ve got some facts:
      Manston, when it was operational, never made a profit. Fact.
      It was losing £10,000 a day when it finally closed. Fact.
      During its life, it lost £Ms. Fact.
      It’s surrounded on three sides by sea, so 75% of its potential customers are fish. Fact.
      East Midlands Airport, a major cargo hub, is within a few miles of major motorway networks connecting EMA with the rest of the country. Fact.
      A new rail head has been built in the Midlands. Fact.
      Manston is at the bottom right hand corner of the UK (surrounded by fish), miles from any motorway, and with no rail connection. Fact.
      Every major UK airport is on the aviation fuel pipeline grid. Fact.
      Manston will need all its fuel brought in by road tanker. Fact.
      Manston is the only UK airport where it is proposed to off load cargoes from planes onto trucks, drive to the port, load the cargoes onto electric barges and move them to their destinations. Fact.
      So there you are. Some facts.

        • Ray, help me here. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 1 million vacancies in the UK in July 2021, across all sectors of the economy.

          If people are so desperate for jobs, why dont they get any of those jobs before waiting 2-3 years for a zero-hours, minimum wage job in a polluting, noisy, cargo airport…?

          (Has anyone else also noticed how the RSP banner here does not say ‘taking off in 2023’ any more…?)

  12. Why exactly has the Secretary of State “kept the project alive” when the Planning Inspectorate advised him to reject it?

  13. This article does not quite add up. It justifies Lawlor reason as him having a young family in the USA. But it then goes on to say that he hasn’t left the States since Covid. Mind very little about RSP or Manston ever do ‘add up’.

  14. Has Lawlor realised the con is all about to be exposed and left before the poo hits the fan. No doubt he got a cut of the DFTs £8.5m. Andrew at the the TDC briefing a few weeks ago Fraud-man said RSP would investing a billion at Manston lol 😂😂.

  15. Southend a very successful airport is tetering on the edge of financial collapse so who in their right mind would ever invest at Manston a serial failure run by a serial failure with a less than honest history ?

    • Ramsgate resident.

      Correct Southend airport is in financial trouble. If there is a need for a new air cargo hub it would make more sence to pump money into Southend airport.
      It’s only about 40 miles from manston as the crow flys but the right side of London.
      It wont need 300million plus spending on it. It wont need electric barges !.
      It has the skilled workforce in place.

      Manston doesnt make financial sence, every thing is against. Wrong location, no fuel grid, no infrastructure, no decent roads, no rail depot the list goes on

    • Indeed, Southend is an operational airport but with no customers. RSP is a company with no operational airport but with lots (allegedly) of clients. Anybody else see an answer here?

      • When pressed on this matter, RSP issued a list of cargo companies who had (they said) expressed an interest.
        Several had gone bust years ago; some didn’t fly to the UK at all, and the rest were really dodgy eastern European outfits flying such ancient crates that they could only get airborne by racing down the runway and raising the undercarriage.
        DHL, Wells Fargo, Royal Mail, UPS, Amazon, Stobart … not one.

  16. People really need to get it into their heads reopening Manston as an airport has not stopped houses being built they have just been displaced to every greenfield site in Thanet. In fact because of supporters of RSP on the council delaying the local plan HMG’s housing targets went up dramatically. So well done all you airport supporters not only have we STILL got the houses we have now had 5,000 extra.

  17. Andrew, not all your facts are correct, you say surrounded by fish?
    Obviously your not an angler, where are all the cod and mackerel?

  18. Ramsgate resident. All these sad moaners about “oh we don’t want an smelly airport – “Not until we go on holiday that is then we don’t mind Polluting the motorways driving to Gatwick or Heathrow and then polluting them again on our way back oh no “ “we are really into the green climate change mindset we really want clean air“ what a load of self centred hypocrites they are of you don’t want Manston Airport to reopen clear off.

    • Bill

      Did you read the post from Andrew ?

      He pointed out the FACTS.

      The pros never mention how manston is going to get round those problems like bad location, no fuel grid, no infrastructure, how the 300million is going to be raised.

      It’s easy to moan and say the anti’s should leave thanet. But the pros never put forward how manston is going to be a success.

      You could answer each point I would like to hear how you think bring in Aviation fuel by tanker is cheaper than say filling the plane up an airport on the fuel grid.

      What’s cheaper driving your car to the petrol station and filling it up yourself, or getting someone to bring the fuel to you and they fill it up. Its that simple which will be the cheapest way ?!!

      You just need to answer all the points the anti’s mention but the pros never do. Keep believing in a struck of solicitor 😉

    • Bill- I have gone on holiday by plane twice and that was 40 years ago. And I’m not the only local resident who doesn’t fly.So go easy on the hypocrisy accusations.

    • So because airports cause pollution, you should build more to spread the pollution around? What a ridiculous suggestion Bill!

    • Bill, you clearly dont travel to London. Nobody in their right mind drives from Ramsgate to Heathrow/Gatwick. You get on the train.

  19. Mr X. Andrew is a doom and gloom merchant who is gullible to believe anything he is told and converts hearsay into so-called “facts” Manston Airport was run into the ground on purpose to give reason for Cloag to close the airport she had her own agenda and it back fired.
    In any event I don’t care about the history it’s the future that matters historically parcel deliveries used to be loss making many companies went out of business trying to make them profitable then another company came along called “Amazon” I rest my case. Andrew should apply to be a speech writer for Boris Johnson they would make a good match on the subject of fantasy.

    • Bill

      Yet again to fail to answer the points raised which are facts. This is what annoys me about the pro airport you never answer the points raised.

      So is it cheaper to fill up from the fuel grid or tanker we will start with this point first Bill

    • Bill

      Yes and Amazon are based in the middle of the country not the bottom right hand corner. I wonder why they chose a place where they can deliver to the north, south, west or east. Why not be based in the south east where Amazon can only deliver to the north west !.

    • Andrew’s comments address several points which airport supporters continually ignore.ss. Where are his ventures into fantasy?

  20. Thousands of locals opposed a cargo hub.

    Do please stop the tedious DFL outsider rhetoric it makes Thanet look extremely ignorant as well as it being grossly inaccurate.

  21. See Bill resorts to the usual if you don’t like it moooooove we’ve come to expect as he doesn’t have one shred of evidence to back up his position. Firstly no one is going on holiday from Manston RSP are wanting to open a cargo hub. Secondly wasn’t it Fraud-man who run it into the ground so much so that no buyer could be found and Gloag bought it for a £1

  22. At least 5+ reports from accredited aviation experts that say Manston is doomed to failure for the same reasons it’s failed already 3 times but Bill knows better. During the DCO process RSP could not say where the money was coming from to build the airport. When asked Silly Dixon could not say if the airport will be financially viable and there is no business plan and she is RSP’s expert lol. Recently in their latest response to the secretary of state RSP have stated they don’t have to prove any need so I’m left wondering exactly what merit there is in their DCO application ?

    • There have been 11 reports from aviation exports since 2010 which have all concluded the idea won’t fly
      pun intended

  23. Andrew ,
    1. How do you know Manston Airport never made a profit ? Can you publish the accounts ??
    2. How do you know it was losing £10,000 per day. Did Ms Cloag tell you?
    3. There are flying fish as a species however I have never seen a fish sitting on a plane.
    The one “fact” you have got right is yes Manston Airport is surrounded by 75% sea. Great that makes it a lot more attractive as an airport because 75 % of the geographical area does not have moaners living there.
    4. Manston Airport is next to a dual carriageway leading to the U.K. motorway network also next to a new train station.
    5.Not every U.K. Airport is on a fuel grid 12 are not..
    6. Manston Airport was a Cargo Hub before it was closed. No one was protesting then. DHL / Cargo Lux / UPS /TNT were daily users of Manston Airport in addition to OXFAM who sent emergency supplies to disaster zones around the world.

    • If there were many cargo handling entities can you explain why Manston couldn’t keep them. Even the 1st to operate there in 1959 moved to Gatwick
      Bill have you ever looked at the statistics for cargo on the CAA website? It makes dismal reading for Manston

      • Bill, in common with all pro-airport people, is unable to present a cogent, fact based argument in favour of aviation at Manston, simply because there isn’t one.

        • Its annoying that the pros never answer any points raised by the anti’s.

          Not one point do they counter the points raised.

          They go on about the new station which is for foot traffic and not cargo, there is no freight yard being built there !
          They dont answer how they are going to charge the same rate for fuel from the grid. When fuel by tanker has alot more overheads.

          The roads lol a lane duel carriageway to a two lane motorway, to the M25 lol.

          For the pros everything is come in and going out by the M2 and 299. No way can those roads take that much extra traffic adding to the transport time.

  24. Well, I’ll start with this one:
    “1. How do you know Manston Airport never made a profit ? Can you publish the accounts ??
    2. How do you know it was losing £10,000 per day. Did Ms Cloag tell you?”
    Here you go;
    “Manston airport incurred losses of more than £100 million in its 16 years of private ownership and was losing £100,000 a week before it was closed by former owner Ann Gloag.

    The figures have been published in a Kent County Council report, which says it is time to “look for a B Plan” for the site after it failed as a commercial operation.”
    From https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/why-manston-never-took-off-33923/
    Shall I continue?

  25. And “Manston Airport is next to a dual carriageway leading to the U.K. motorway network also next to a new train station.”
    Manston is almost 200 miles from the logistics distribution centres in the Midlands EMA is on the doorstep. The clue is “cargo hub” … a hub is in the middle, not on the rim.
    The Thanet Parkway station is 2 km away from the Manston terminal building. Not that it matters, because the proposal is for freight. There is no freight handling facility at the Thanet Parkway *passenger* station.

  26. Fraud-man is already on record backpedaling on the jobs figures saying automation will reduce jobs at Manston. As it was always to be “state of the art” you have to wonder why he’s only just come to that conclusion. The DCO examiners pointed out any jobs created at Manston would be to the detriment of other airports and the impact of a noisy polluting cargo hub would lead to a net job loss in Thanet. Plus does RSP really think that other airports would let them get away with stealing their jobs ?

    • Yes planes will be flown remotely in the future similar to drones so the captain will leave the plane first.
      A cruise ship emits as many fumes in 1 week as 12,000 cars do in one year. Should we stop cruise ships.
      How will you get to your holiday abroad for your package holiday.
      Automation is moving very fast. We now have self driving cars. No one can stop mechanisation.
      It must be really awful to receive your Amazon package next day or even being able to collect it from your local shop/post office next day.
      As for imported food being delivered to you within hours this is terrible.
      As for the men in the white coats with straight jackets. They live next door because they know you are mad not to realise there is constant progression.
      Stop the world I want to get off.

  27. Ramsgate Resident. Don’t worry I’m here looking at all the tosh some have put on here. Some of the comments are accurate including yours Bill. There is going to be an announcement later this month or early November regarding Manston Airport from the DOT so you will have to wait for the next lot of [ facts] Andrew.

  28. I’m sure many of us would like to know how Ann knows that “there is going to be an announcement [soon] regarding Manston Airport from the DOT”.

    • Because Ann went to London to ‘rattle some cages’, remember? And she doesnt realise that if she is right, that would be a clear signal that the process is corrupt and decisions would have been made not with the benefit of Ramsgate, Thanet or UK economy, but the personal gain of ‘the right people’. Something we all know is happening re Manston, on the other hand…

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