Judicial Review of Manston airport development approval to be heard in High Court in July

Manston airport site Image RSP

A legal challenge against the government’s decision to give the go ahead for the development of Manston airport will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice on (provisional date) 5-6 July, according to an update on the crowdfunding page for the legal action.

The challenge, brought by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes, aims to quash the development consent order granted by government for RiverOak Strategic Partners’ (RSP) Manston airport project.

In January a Judicial Review application was denied by the High Court but Ms Dawes then made a successful application to have that decision reviewed at an oral hearing,.

That hearing before Justice Nathalie Lieven granted permission for a Judicial Review to go ahead on some of the issues raised in Ms Dawes case. Ms Dawes’ team say these are focused on climate change impact and whether sufficient need for the Manston airport freight hub has been proven.

RSP wants to create aviation at the site with a cargo hub and associated business.  Construction is 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.

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  to the cause.

Then town clerk Richard Styles had sought and received advice from the National Association of Local Councils that the town council was legally able to offer its support.

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. The crowdfunder raised in excess of £118,000 for the first challenge and currently stands at £45,400 for the new challenge with a £75,000 stretch target.

The first JR application was refused in January by the Honourable Mr Justice Lane. The new application was granted for a ‘reduced grounds’ review by Justice Lieven and this will be heard in July. The hearing is scheduled for one and a half days.

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


  1. SMAA supporters: “How dare anyone invoke their rights to challenge any decision that affects them!!! This is North Korea don’t you know!”

    Anyone who thinks there’s a company willing to sink £500m into a project experts say won’t work needs to have their head examined. Something’s seriously fishy about this ‘cargo hub’. What’s the real reason behind the DCO? Follow the money.

    • “What’s the real reason behind the DCO?”

      To bypass any local democracy so that when it inevitably fails, the decisions are with the pro-housing government/Planning Inspectorate !!

    • The real reason that both Thanet chocolate MP’s, Gale and especially Mackinlay are promoting the re-opening of Manston is because they think it will be a vote winner for them! They are traitors, because the DCO is only for cargo aircraft, but few people realise that, and think it a good idea to have a passenger air carrier. But that won’t happen because at least 4 attempts to use the air strip for passenger aircraft went bust, due to lack of demand. Don’t be fooled by Mackinlay and Gale, they are trying to gull you into believing Manston will be good for Thanet, when it will destroy Ramsgate Harbour with low flying dirty old cargo planes, and devalue thousands of Ramsgate homes!

      • Dumpton – you obviously have very very limited knowledge concerning modern aircraft and their use in a modern business model. Nobody uses old dirty cargo planes as they are not viable in todays modern business world. Please do some research before you post inaccurate rubbish.

  2. The reason behind the DCO River Oak gets planning permission to reopen Manston Airport through the Government. The CPO kept getting rejected by Discovery Park for River Oak to reopen Manston Airport.

    • Richard I will save you the energy and call out your misconception.
      Extract from PWC’s report:
      “Following completion of the due diligence exercise, the council announced on 11/12/2014 that in its opinion, Riveroak did not have the necessary financial capacity to support the council’s plan for Manston and that Riveroak’s business plan was insufficient. It was concluded therefore that the council would not take forward the CPO at this time.”

      So another very expensive report paid for by tax payers sums up Riveroak don’t have the financial clout to see this through.

    • A matter of fact: It was not Discovery Park that rejected the CPO. It was absolutely nothing to do ith them.
      It was TDC (twice) that turned down Riveroak; once under Labour, and once under UKIP. Both times because RiverOak would not or could not say where the money was coming from.

  3. I don’t think it’s a law where a business has to prove there is a
    “Need” however regardless of that, Manston Airport will be reopened despite the vexatious attempts by Dawes and co to cause delays after delay. The government needs Manston Airport to be open for national security purposes and if on the unlikely event the judicial review went against River Oak the government
    would use the national security route that no Dawes or Court could over rule.

    • Jenny Dawes’ actions are not vexatious.
      If they were, the judge would not have allowed the second JR.
      The fact that it has been allowed shows that it is, in fact, meritorious.

    • Please give us proof now, Ann, that Manston Airport will be reopened. Why do you think it will be needed for security purposes? Please explain why you are so besotted with the idea of having an airport at Manston, considering the environmental damage aviation (like cars) causes. Is it pure nostalgia for the so-called good old days?

    • Ann; “Manston needs to open for national security reasons”
      Us; “Why is that, Ann?”
      Ann; “If I told you I would have to kill you.”

  4. I am appalled that “A majority of Ramsgate Town Councillors” voted to spend taxpayers money on supporting the legal challenge WITH NO MANDATE FROM THE ELECTORATE! Despite constant claims from the anti Airport folk, they are, in fact, a vociferous minority of residents. Numerous polls have indicated figures of typically 80% or better supporting the Airport.

    • Th Labour and Green candidates made no secret of their feelings about Manston when they published their election manifestos. And, overwhelmingly, they were voted in.
      Not that it matters. Manston won’t succeed or fail because people voted this way or that.

      • I suspect they are SMA polls. That suggests that 20% of Manston supporters don’t want the airport reopened. A glimmer of sense appearing!

  5. Ann

    National security purpose

    Who can a private cargo hub help National security ?

    Surely if manston was needed for national security why isnt it being funded and run by our arm forces ?

  6. All this crap 💩 can’t have an airport open because it will damage this and poison people and be noisy, tree huggers do one open the airport get it going

    • Thanet lad, so you want to ‘poison people’ really selling it aren’t you 🤣🤡.
      It will just rumble on for another decade when if our MPs and Cllrs had done their job, we could have had something other than airport or houses.

  7. Manston airport was here before anyone in Thanet so when these people brought there houses new at some point there will be an airport up and running in some point in there lifetime so manston isn’t going anywhere and with the right company it would be successful I would use it saves me going to Gatwick

      • Phyllis. I would use it quite often if they were doing quick flights to Northern Europe.
        Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam would literally be minutes away. Even Berlin and Copenhagen would be less than an hour.

    • I think you’ll find that Thanet had a population long before the airport was built! And if you want to use the new cargo hub you’d better start practising being in a box of bananas (seems apt) for several hours.
      While the pro’s have been trying to resurrect their dreams of Spitfires taking off to the sound of bugles Thanet has lost the possibility of building up the industries of the future. Green investment, skilled jobs, businesses that will last. Unlike an airport that’s failed several times before (and under the same management as proposed now).

      • But there have been plane’s using Manston since the winter of 1915/1916. Maybe Commercial since 1959, but used before 1959.

        • The Wantsum had ships going up it in Roman times. Planning to reopen that?
          Paul times have changed. You sit in your slippers dreaming about Spitfires while the rest of us work to save the planet for our kids and their kids.

    • Good answer Shane.plus Manston is part of our history too. All it needs is a underground rail link from the mainline railway. This airport is missing a station that is why it wasn’t very successful in the past. I tell you now if you have a railway link to Manston l would say Manston would survive and the locals would benefit by this

      • Why? It’s a freight airport…. With maybe some passenger flights!!!!
        Southend is struggling and it has a station. On site and is 30 mi it’s from Central London

  8. With the way the world is now with Russia and China sabre rattling war in Ukraine despot Putin being unhinged I can understand the need for Manston Airport to remain an airport for all eventualities if it was needed for military purposes in the future.

    • The MoD sold Manston off years ago.
      And I can assure you that if things went seriously pear-shaped with Russia nd China, Manton would be amongst the first targets the cruise missiles and drones would target.

  9. I welcome the judicial review. It is allowed in law and might just get this hare brained project canned for eternity. This country has too many under utilized airports already. If you wanted to set up a cargo hub it would be easier and cheaper to do so at Southend or Doncaster, both of which are available to acquire and are fully operational and better located than Manston. The only reason the government have approved a DCO is to keep the two Thanet MP’s happy.
    This project will fail financially for sure if it ever opens, which is unlikely, but in the meantime Ramsgate is blighted and other inward investment will dry up. Well done Jenny Dawes, do not be discouraged by the airport at any cost fanatics.

    • Ah! What it is to be an “Arty Farty Snowflake”.
      What a burden to be saddled with the ability to make critical analysis, to be able to string together more than three words – starting with an upper case letter and ending it a full stop, to be able to read and understand reports – particularly those relating to aviation.
      Goodness, it’s grim being snowflake.

  10. Thanet businessman, what companies or other investors have been prevented from locating in Thanet because of the Airport debacle ?
    I am unaware of any.
    Regardless of whether or not the Airport reopens, it has no bearing on other enterprises around the isle from starting up..
    That said, the spin-off from a functioning Airport will attract other businesses to start building up, and creating yet more jobs.

  11. Just turn it into a nice country park .Big fishing lake. Ect no houses no planes . No pollution because which ever way this goes your get pollution. 5000 houses is a lot of human waste . Treatment plants can’t cope now .And nothings being built to cater for the future. So it will probably end up in the sea .

  12. Personally I will be glad when this is all over. No wonder this country can’t get anything done anymore 😡

    • Well, this county got Thanet Parkway Station built.
      And, if it wasn’t for UKIP and the Tories, we would have a thriving Stone Hill Park development at Manston, with people living and working.

  13. Why do the Tories keep banging on about the £10k donated to the previous judicial review. It went towards a legal challenge that showed the DFT/SOS’s decision was unlawful. Are the Tories saying it’s ok for a government department to act unlawfully and not be challenged ? They also say the closure of Manston was a savage blow to the economy of Thanet. Perhaps they could explain that given it employed less than 150 people on zero hours part time contracts, was losing £10,000 a week, went bust three times losing money for all involved including local investors & tax payers money spent propping it up and it never ever made a profit

  14. Taken from the Kent CC website, April 2023. The Number of people who were unemployed in
    Kent in March 2023 has risen by 2.5% (+770)
    since the previous month.
    • The unemployment rate in Kent is 3.3% (GB
    • Youth unemployment in Kent (18 to 24 year-olds)
    is 5.0%, just above the national rate of 4.9%
    • Thanet has the 2
    nd highest rate of youth
    unemployment in the South East (9.3%).
    • Unemployment increased for both males and
    females over the last month: +1.4% for males and
    +3.9% for females.

    • And Manston closed when? 2014. Take a look at the employment figures for the time after Manston closed. Or just ignore the facts like the rest of the pros.

        • My comment still holds good.
          Employment and the Thanet economy are better now than they were in 2014.
          They might have dipped a bit (in common with everyone else’s because of Trussenomics) but still better than they were.

    • And so you think those people will want to be forklift drivers and similar on cold nights in November fir minimum wage. It’s already said it’s going to be highly automated- and what dies that leave here jobs wise that can’t be done remotely from elsewhere?

  15. Should be turned down, that land has huge potential to create environmentally friendly jobs, activities to attract money without the numerous insurmountable pollution issues which come with an airfield, and mass business development beyond what an airfield will provide. It’s failed too often and will fail again, it’s TDCs, Cllrs and MPs vanity project. They are disgusting and show there lack of business knowledge and strategic future proof planning for the betterment of an area without the noise, fuel, and traffic pollution not to mention the gridlock with the insufficient infrastructure to cope with lorries carrying freight until it goes bust again, or is the plan for government bail out for a completely unjustifiable purpose of subsidising it. Every report written and previous history shows its not needed it’s not every going to make money or be sustainable not to mention be bad for the wider area. Show some ambition and vision and move on.

    • Steve is correct- and if TDC hadn’t been mysteriously anti the Stone Hill Park proposals, the ex-airport would now be a mixed-use site.

  16. One has to say what one has to say, there are some very uneducated citizens on here who obviously know nothing about the subject matter. These hypocrites are more than happy to travel to other airports not giving a dam who’s houses they fly over their selfishness is a disgrace. I used to fly from Manston Airport on EU Jet 5/6 times a year and I will again.

  17. Years ago I built a loft conversion in Isleworth. This house was right under the flight path to Heathrow. You could not talk to each other as the constant noise was relentless you had to shout. I did say to the client why would you want to live here.

  18. Only jobs will be created in the building. No importer will bring in goods only to be loaded on a lorry to travel along the Thanet Way to the end customer. Other freight airports will undercut landing charges. The sooner it opens the sooner it closes.

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