Campaigners hold events to raise funds for legal challenge against Manston airport plans

Margate mayor and former windfarm worker Cllr Rob Yates has organised one of the events

Campaigners against the plan for a cargo hub at the Manston Airport site are raising funds for the upcoming Judicial Review by hosting a series of events across Thanet.

The legal hearing, which aims to quash the development consent issued by government last year, will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice on July 5-6.

Those backing the legal challenge need to reach a £75,000 fundraising target with £54,540 of that pledged to date.

Fundraising events taking place over the next 6 weeks range from a quiz night, through to an art history talk, piano recitals, an evening of jazz, workshops for young people, and a dinner to celebrate the summer solstice – and more.

Labour town councillor Jane Hetherington, one of the organisers, said the recent election result bringing a Labour majority at council despite opposition to the plans being used “as a strategy to persuade voters not to vote Labour”… “reflects a growing desire for other, greener uses for the Manston site.”

She added: “We need to be thinking of a more environmentally friendly use for Manston as part of a mixed economy providing sustainable employment.”

Cllr Rob Yates, a former windfarm worker who is organising a Nintendo 64 Mario Kart event in Margate, said: “As someone who’s worked in the renewables industry for 12 years, it’s my fundamental belief, and the science backs this up, that we need to be reducing our CO2 emissions. No airport can be truly carbon neutral, there is no possible way that you can do it.

“We’re running events across Thanet in support of the fundraiser to show that w are rightly worried about our future and about our physical and mental health. We believe that planes flying directly overhead at very regular intervals cannot be good for the people, the local economy, or for our precious natural environment.”

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

The site is in ownership of RSP after a £16million buy out from previous owners Stone Hill Park

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.

An RSP spokesperson said: “As an island nation we can’t simply turn our back on aviation and all the things it provides that each of us counts upon, from fresh fruit to medicines and other just-in-time goods. As with everything in life there must be a balanced equation and RSP’s plans for Manston deliver just that – much needed jobs and economic prosperity through a modern aviation hub, offset by a detailed commitment to be a responsible airport operator, working closely with the local community – and achieving Carbon Net Zero on the ground within 10 years of re-opening.”

The Thanet Conservative Group has issued a statement in response to the fundraising announcement to “ condemn the Mayor of Margate and other Labour councillors for campaigning against the re-opening of Manston Airport.”

The group says it believes some Labour members are “undermining one of the biggest projects that would see Thanet prosper.”

Development consent and Judicial Reviews

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 Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes.

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.

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 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 programme of events includes:

“Ramsgate in the Age of Dickens” Jacqui Ansell
7.00pm on Thursday 25 May at the Queens Head, Harbour Parade, Ramsgate
Ticket price: £15.00.  For further information contact: Christabel Smith

“Why Manston Doesn’t Fly” with live music from Starfish Men and Nintendo 64 Mario Kart Racing
4.00-6.30pm on Saturday 27 May at Elsewhere, 21-22 The Centre, Margate
Ticket price £5.00 at the door or online

Jazz concert; Lynn Wallis and Frances Knight
7.00pm on Saturday 27 May at the Small Boat Owners Association, 20 Guildford Lawn, Ramsgate
Ticket price £15.00. For further information contact: Anne-Marie Nixey

Marie-Louise, Salon Piano Concert
7.00pm on Saturday 10 June, Devonshire Gardens, Cliftonville
Ticket price £25.00, including refreshments:
Please note – numbers are strictly limited.

Summer Solstice Gala Dinner
7.00pm on Wednesday 21 June at Royal Harbour Brasserie, Ramsgate
Ticket price £40.00 per person. For further information contact Christabel Smith

Vale Square Quiz
7.00pm on Saturday 24 June in Vale Square, Ramsgate
Ticket price £10.00 per person. For further information contact Kim Edgington

And for Dr Who fans – Tea with Tegan
Saturday 1 July at the Walpole Bay Hotel
Ticket price £30.00 per person

The fundraiser is at: