High Court grants Judicial Review bid to challenge government approval of Manston airport development

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

A fresh bid for a Judicial Review challenging the government’s decision to give the go ahead to RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) for the development of Manston airport has been granted by the High Court today (March 23).

In January a Judicial Review application submitted on behalf of Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes was denied by the High Court but an appeal was then lodged asking for a planning judge to review the decision.

That hearing took place today in the in the High Court before Justice Nathalie Lieven who has given permission for the review to go ahead on some of the issues raised in Ms Dawes case. Ms Dawes’ team say these are climate change impact and whether sufficient need for the Manston airport freight hub has been proven.


Ms Dawes said: “‘I am delighted that today, at an oral hearing in the High Court, Justice Nathalie Lieven granted new permission to proceed with a second Judicial Review into the Secretary of State’s decision to get development consent for Manston Airport.

“I brought this case, with the support of thousands of people from Kent and beyond, because in today’s climate-constrained world, ploughing ahead with an airport for which there is no need and without taking into account its climate change impacts is nonsensical.

“The government’s decision to press ahead with Manston Airport, against the advice of the experts, including the government’s own advisors, risks irreparable harm to the people, economy, environment and heritage of the towns and villages of East Kent.”


A spokesperson for RSP called the legal bid a ‘delaying tactic’ saying: “Following today’s short hearing by Mrs Justice Lieven, we are disappointed that this will now go to a full judicial review, albeit on reduced grounds.

“There is no basis for the claims made by the applicant, and this is simply a further delaying tactic – frustrating the shared desire of RSP and the government, together with numerous local authorities, Members of Parliament, businesses, communities and other stakeholders – not to mention thousands of supporters of the airport – to see Manston return to operational use as an international freight hub for London and the South east, delivering new economic and employment opportunities for the people and organisations of East Kent and beyond.”

Around 40 airport development supporters and North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale were among those attending the hearing.

Development Consent Order

The first decision to grant permission for the Manston airport proposals was announced by government on July 9 2020 after delays in January and May.

The Department of Transport approved the application to create an air freight hub at the site. A Planning Inspectorate Examining Authority panel of Martin Broderick, Jonathan Hockley, Kelvin MacDonald and Jonathan Manning  had recommended that development consent should not be granted.

The first Judicial Review bid was then launched by Ms Dawes with Ramsgate Town Council as one of the backers with the majority of councillors agreeing to donate up to £10,000 of council funds to the cause.

In December 2020 the Department of Transport acknowledged that the decision approval letter issued from the Minister of State did not contain enough detail and in February 2021 the DCO approval was quashed. Further consultations and a report from Ove Arup, which agreed with the Planning Inspectorate panel findings, then followed.

The development approval was again issued last August by then Transport Minister Karl McCartney.

Ms Dawes then launched a second Judicial Review application in a bid to halt the airport plans and crowdfunded for pledges to pay for the action. This was refused in January by the Honourable Mr Justice Lane.

Now the new application has been granted for ‘limited grounds’ review by Justice Lieven. The judgment is expected to be published later today or tomorrow.

RSP wants to create aviation at the site with a cargo hub and associated business. Plans for construction are planned to be phased over 15 years and  include 19 freight stands and four passenger stands for aircraft as well as warehousing and fuel storage.

A date for the Judicial Review hearing has not yet been released.


  1. Thousands of residents will be delighted at this news.

    Perhaps Tony can take his failed aviation track record and buy Southend instead.

    And perhaps we can use Manston for proper green employment.

    Solar or wind farm?

    • Likewise Alice! The only reason Gale & Mackinlay want to see Manston re-opening is because they think it will be a vote winner, the traitors!

  2. This will stir up the “let’s back the multiple failed airport with the multiple aviation failure management to save Thanet” crowd. To be honest I’d rather it just reopened next week as it’s gonna fail within a year of opening let’s just get it over with.

    Unfortunately the same idiots that believe manston will create 55,000 jobs will when it fails AGAIN want it opened again. And again.

    Most of the same crowd are still waiting for Brexit benefits they voted for….
    Strange it’s the same crowd.

    • And from the same guy who promised those same jobs when he was VP of Wiggins in 1998 & who kept reducing those projections & never delivered, he left in 2004 & the following year when it closed-only 400 odd jobs & the majority of them only part-time.

      How many times do the fuel lickers of Thanet have to be conned & slapped in the face(by the same guy no less) before they wake up?

  3. If a cargo hub opened, even if to fail swiftly, our tourism economy and housing market and regeneration would be dead before the first cargo plane took off. The threat of this lunacy is already having a significant impact.

  4. The judge, who is experienced in planning matters, has allowed a judicial review of the finding by Karl McCartney MP. He was junior Minister of eight weeks standing who had never even visited the site. Although Grant Shapps did recuse himself (again) it would have been clear to the new Minister, who was only just appointed, as to the opinions of the SoS.
    It is right and proper therefor to allow a judicial review of what maybe eventually be considered a flawed decision.

  5. Local labour party and small minded minority are celebrating stopping jobs what and earth has this world come to!

  6. Stopping jobs? This is misleading.

    The cargo hub will kill more jobs than it creates.

    These are the facts.

    • What jobs would be killed off give us examples not just the “ tourism” which provides very little in good paying jobs!

    • Here are the facts Steve-in 1998 the same guy promising these huge number of local jobs & prosperity for RSP (who pay him) in recent years was promising them for Wiggins, of whom he was then the vice president-that number was very shortly downgraded several times & in the mid 2000’s when it closed there were only 140 odd jobs there & most of them were only part-time.

      Freuddman promised the earth & delivered next to nothing from 1998-2004, at great expense to the taypayer-as admitted by KCC in their report when they said no KCC money would ever be given to any future venture.

      Shame on anybody still falling for this nonsense again after 15 plus years of abject failure & a KCC & an independent report both finding there is no financial viability for any kind of airport at Manston, either freight or commercial. Shame also on the then clown transport minister not even bothering to visit the site, or clearly even bothering to read all the reports on it being a dead duck, before green-lighting it again.

      • So you have been unable to give any examples of jobs only a posting about it having 140 odd jobs when it shut last time this is direct jobs and does not include indirect jobs. we need more jobs and company’s that are willing to spending millions I’m afraid small startups will not help the economy

      • RSP themselves admitted that, were a successful cargo hub to operate at Manston, there would be an impact on Ramsgate.

    • How so they have promised 100s of real jobs not summer minimum wage jobs. Thanet needs real jobs for its young they need to see a real future here. I grow up in seaside area with an airport like Manston, guess what? Tourists still came and the young people saw real jobs so stayed, house prices grew.it is now one of the highest cost housing areas in the UK with high tourism and an airport

  7. One has to ask who runs this country is it the likes of Jenny Dawes or is it the elected government. All those who have given money to the Jenny Dawes fund should be named so the transparency and responsibility for these vexatious acts can be fully investigated and held to account to investigate if there is corruption going on. I suspect there are some who are behind this for their own financial benefit and has nothing to do with planes.

    • “their own financial benefit” like owners of tourism based industries who would see a loss in their businesses if the freight hub went ahead? By the way that consequence was recognised by RSP, Government and the Examining Authority.

      • Tourism is not going to get locals a decent paid job that they can live on neither will it sustain ramsgate or other areas of Thanet.

    • By the same token the so called investors in the scheme should also be named – yet oddly they haven’t.

    • It is not a vexatious act.
      The whole point of having to seek approval for a JR is so that trivial cases can be ditched.
      The very fact that Jenny Dawes’ application has been approved (again) by a High Court judge says that there is merit in the case.
      You mightn’t like it, but that’s the way it is.

      • Yes Jenny Dawes appeal has been granted but did she pay for the fees herself ( NO ) asks residents to cough up the cash instead . If everyone else is that bothered why has no one else launched the legal appeal . Oh wait because they don’t want to put the time . Maybe next Jenny Dawes will be prime minister or transport secretary then she can stop the issue with immigration too . I hope when review is heard she loses and the judge states that no more appeals will be granted .

    • Which elected government would that be then Bill? The one elected in September by the Tory faithful or the one in November elected by Tory MPs?
      I notice when RSP gets a win, Bill and the rest of the Manstonian fringe say we should all shut up and obey the law. When it goes against them the Judges are traitors, as are Remainers ,DFL and the rest of ‘Wokerati’.
      The fact is this has been from day one a spoof project, with dodgy dealing and unsubstantiated financial support from unaccountable ‘investors’.Some of the Manstonian fringe are also misogynists and having a go at Jenny Dawes gives these reactionaries added pleasure in criticising a woman.
      We are beginning to see a picture of GB news Britain. It is divided, poorly run, relies on gimmicks and charlatanism, to persuade a credulous electorate to support them, it has high inflation, low productivity, little direction and fissiparous ruling party in charge.
      That’s the strength of it, and we all at fault for allowing it to happen.

  8. And similarly. Let’s hold TDC and the Gov to account for failing to take into account 17 independent assessments this isn’t a good idea.

    And then let’s ask Ash Ashby why she’s cheerleading.

    • RTC councillors were voted in, democratically, by a majority of people, because there are many people in Ramsgate who *don’t* want a dirty, noisy cargo hub on their doorsteps

      • And yet we are stuck with ‘dirty stinking’ Labour idiots, who cannot see beyond their stupid noses!
        That cretin Dawes woman needs to get some sort of anti-social therapy…quickly!

    • Not you Anne you live in a fenced in community so that the public are kept safe from your balderdash. RTC are involved in this anyway.

  9. Well I’m all for the cargo hub, I think it will bring job and money into the area. I can’t understand what the problem is. Its an airport so if you don’t want to live by an airport Why choose to live there, its like buying a house near a pub and then complaining about the smell of beer.

    • Maybe because people are not choosing to live by an airport.
      Maybe because they live here already and ..sorry to break it to you..there isn’t an airport here now.
      It’s like saying I’ve chosen to live next to a chicken farm when there wasn’t one there nor was one planned when I bought my house.
      Have you noticed there isn’t an airport there?
      Oh and the jobs? Do you believe in Father Christmas as well?

      • Most moaners have lived here when it was an airport,and if you moved in after ,if you looked at the local news ,you would see ,there was a possibility of an airport ,opening up so that shuts that theory up

  10. Should have just been developed as a mixed use site as per original plans. Anyone who thinks that a US venture capital group have the interests of Thanet at heart need to have a word with themselves. Equally ..thousands of jobs? Anyone want to buy the Tower of London off me? I do own it honest.

    It’s a strange overlapping group, still holding on for non existent Brexit benefits that will never come as there aren’t any, still holding out for the nonsense that is an airport and still moaning about all the housing being built on farmland and other land that they helped happen because of this Manston crap.
    Thanet and the surrounding area will be damaged by an airport just as the whole country has been trashed by the Brexit vote. But who cares hey..chocks away, WW2, Spitfires, Land of Hope and Glory.. and bottom of the G20 growth tables only one above the bottom entry. Russia.
    What a demented place this is.

  11. The proportion of civil judicial reviews in England and Wales, excluding immigration cases, which claimants won out of total claims lodged fell by 50% on 2020, according to analysis seen by the Guardian. The figure is 26% if the success rate is measured out of cases that went to a final hearing.23 Jun 2022

  12. RSP could have just gone through the proper channels and local democracy to get their airport plans approved.

    Instead the DCO is all about taking away any local control over the site, why do so many airport fans think this is a good thing? Decisions in the hands of the Planning Inspectorate that are all about houses ??

  13. We don’t want the airport to be turned into a housing development, because the amount of traffic will be more than the area can cope with. It will cause more traffic congestion.
    All the local council is concerned about is how much money they will make.
    The same with the development people.
    We won’t be able to get out of thanet if this goes ahead.
    Let them go and build in some other county.

    • again for the nth time
      The houses on the local plan granted to the brownfield site at Manston were moved by the Tories to farmland in 2018.
      Well done for wanting all the houses and a cargo Hub

    • Do you think that a “successful cargo hub” will not generate any traffic? If RSP does go ahead, the roads will be gridlocked with lorries bringing in freight and taking it away…
      And the alternative to an airport/cargo hub doesn’t have to be housing. Most people I know would favour a mixed development, as was planned by Stonehill Park: including a film studio and leisure business centre. For my part, I don’t personally think the owners of RSP can be trusted to do what they say. Follow any of the links on their website and it leads you to: “REAL ESTATE”…

    • It doesn’t work like that Steve. ‘Stop the world I want to get off, doesn’t apply to developers, they will build anyway, as has been shown. All those who were so keen on this ramshackle scheme, are now finding ticky tacky boxes being planned for their backyards. That’s how it works. Cruel but true.

  14. Don’t kid yourselves No Airport means a vast housing estate without any infrastructure, Schools, Doctors, Dentists, proper LOCAL roads this review must fail and the airport must re-open.

    • again for the nth time
      The houses on the local plan granted to the brownfield site at Manston were moved by the Tories to farmland in 2018.
      Well done for wanting all the houses and a cargo Hub

  15. Wonderful news! Let’s hope this pie in the sky venture is now kicked in to touch forever and the government see sense and bin it! So much could have be done and achieved with behemoth over there but our local MP’s and TDC put every obstacle they could in the way to stop SHP and their plans the same ones now moaning about the due process of law! Well done Jenny Dawes take a bow!

  16. Supporting Manston is actually making the housing situation worse, not better. Houses on prime arable land anyone?

  17. I personally would prefer it if the place was turned into a mini forest,large wood, so people ,could visit and picnic,no house’s or airport

    • Sounds perfect Ray. Shame our MPs can’t see anything other than houses or polluting cargo hubs.

  18. So Thanet will now become a housing estate, thanks for concreting it all over. The same people moaning about manston will all be off on holiday soon flying from a airport so it basically not on my doorstep. Sad sad sad day for thanet

    • Chris, see Andrews comments above. The houses were coming regardless of the outcome of Manston. If you voted Tory you voted for houses, well done you 👏

    • Thanet will become a housing estate because that’s what the Local Plan says.
      The Local Plan agreed by UKIP and the Tories

  19. This is what governments do in some countries Ten judges are facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia for being too soft on human rights campaigners and women’s rights activists, it has been claimed.

    • What a nice guy you are. ‘It is being clamed’. Claimed by who? is that what you want a an authoritarian monarchy, which uses theocratic justifications to control most of the population. The sooner we build some more wind turbines and solar installations the better. If we stop buying their oil and allowing them to buy half of London, they will see that life is not so sweet.

  20. I have spotted a problem with their business plan

    Quote “use as an international freight hub for London and the South east ”

    There is no way investing 500 million to service London and the south east will make money. Someone should tell them Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southern and the London dockland airports all server London and the south east !

    • I don’t think people investing 500 million are bothered about the local people.

      If manston is viable they will invest if not they wont.

      Would be nice to know who these investors are

    • If RSP went through local planning then there might have been a local say… as it happens they went through a DCO which bypasses all local opinions…. why you wonder when ‘everyone’ in Thanet wants the airport…. well what happens if/when it fails? No local control and the housing obsessed government decides…. ah !

      • It seems that if the airport development does not go ahead we end up with a field full of houses I vote for the airport.

  21. The judge is totally unqualified in planning matters and should not have been sitting, apparently she only covered the because who should have been there was not available at short notice.

  22. here we go again , when will these people call it a day , and find something else for thier crusade , people are getting fed up with it , the courts have made thier decision – get over it.

  23. Excellent news indeed. A judge who clearly looked at the evidence and need for a JR into the decision.

  24. Diabolical decision. I was set to support the new training facility being built on site, to train our young local folk in all aspects of aviation industry. Not to mention the numerous local jobs in maintainance, cleaning, catering, fire prevention, h and s, admin, it, transport, etc etc etc, i live at manston airport and i love manston airport. thanks a lot the person who is trying to ruin this for thanet people. Obviously not thinking about them just their new house purchased under the flightpath.

    • There is no flight path. RSP is making a right bish of getting CAA approval.
      In the unlikely event that aviation ever happens at Manston, there will be few jobs. And those jobs won’t be Air Traffic Control of pilots. They’ll be baggage handling.
      I don’t think that Ms Dawes’ intention is to ruin anything. Quite the opposite. She wants to keep our pleasant Isle of Thanet as pleasant as possible for residents, tourists and visitors.

  25. When is Dr Pritchatd going to tell us (again) that the PI will approve the DCO; that permission for a JR won’t be granted; that the JR will fail; that approval for a second JR won’t be granted ..

  26. So Jenny gets her begging bowl out yet again, now I wonder who are these people filling that bowl again. I have my own idea who they are but can’t name them as I don’t have written concrete proof.

  27. Great news in my opinion. Not keen on raising my children under a flight path. I understand the concerns about jobs and housing…. but don’t think the airport is the right solution though.

    Additionally I dont really trust RSP, or the ‘local’ politicians who are supporting the development of the airport.

    I’ll happily be contributing to enable the JR to proceed.

  28. Some people are lucky to have the spare money to put in the pot, perhaps they are the ones that only want Coffee Shops & Arty Farty Shops for Thanet.

    • I’m not “arty farty”. I don’t drink coffee. I contributed because I don’t want a noisy, polluting damaging airport on the edge of my home town.

  29. Here’s an idea. Give everyone who wants an airport a headset and they can live in a virtual world where Craig Mackinlay is world president, Suella Braverman is Queen and it is Christmas everyday. They can enjoy a virtual airport, and have a training programme for the care of Unicorns.

  30. Thousands of illegal immigrants in desperate need of a flight to Rwanda and an “International” airport a stones throw from where the illegals landed sounds like a match made in heaven to me

  31. Approved quote from the lawyers:
    Mrs J Lieven granted permission on:
    · Ground 1(a) which is that it (1) was procedurally unfair to rely upon the Azimuth Report without having the underlying evidence or submitting that evidence to scrutiny by IPs (2) the reliance on the IBA report which the IPs were not afforded the opportunity to comment on.
    · Ground 1(c) irrationality – i.e. that in determining whether there is a need for the development, the Defendant irrationally relied on qualitative, rather than quantitative evidence, despite having asked for quantitative need to be demonstrated in his Statement of Matters.
    · Ground 1(d) which is there was an error of law as to treatment of potential growth at other airports; the minister erred in law because he was unlawfully advised in the briefing that the potential for growth at other airports was not a material consideration.
    · Ground 2 – Mrs Justice Lieven granted permission to advance an amended version of the climate change ground.

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