Judicial Review judgement over Manston airport site development order now awaited

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

A decision from the Royal Courts of Justice over whether correct process was followed in issuing a development consent order for Manston airport will likely not be announced until after the summer.

A Judicial Review hearing took place at the High Court on July 4-5.

The DCO was initially granted in July 2020  when the Department of Transport approved the application to create an air freight hub at the site. It was quashed in the High Court in February 2021 following a legal challenge launched by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes which resulted in the Secretary of State conceding the decision approval letter issued from the Minister of State did not contain enough detail.

The DCO was granted for a second time in August 2022 by then Transport Minister Karl McCartney.

In response Ms Dawes launched a second Judicial Review application in a bid to halt the airport plans and has crowdfunded £75,000 in pledges to pay for the action.

The judicial review application was initially dismissed by Mr Justice Lane in January but then allowed on partial grounds in a review by Mrs Justice Lieven in March.

At the hearing before Honourable Mr Justice Ian Dove last week the focus was on the process for two areas -whether need for the airport was correctly assessed and  whether due consideration was given to what impact the scheme might have on the Government’s ability to meet its future carbon reduction targets.

Barristers representing the Claimant Jenny Dawes, the Defendant the Secretary of State for Transport and the Interested Party RiverOak Strategic Partners have now put their cases to the judge.

Mr Justice Dove was called to the Bar at Inner Temple in 1986 and was a member of the Planning and Environment Bar association, the Administrative Bar association and the Compulsory Purchase association.

Prior to taking silk, he served on the Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown (Treasury Council) in the Provinces. He sat as an Immigration Judge, Recorder in the Crown and County Courts, Deputy High Court Judge and occasional inspector for Town and Village Green inquiries until he was appointed as a High Court Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division (now the King’s Bench Division) on 1 October 2014.

A decision is now awaited. However, the courts are on vacation in August and September so the judgement may not be given until after this time.

RSP wants to create aviation at the site with a cargo freight hub and associated business, saying an investment “up to £500m” will be made.  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.

Campaigners against the development raise issues including noise, need, climate harm and damage to Ramsgate’s tourism industry.

The outcome could still result in more court hearings if either side attempts further review in light of the ruling.



  1. How many reviews are we going to have. I suppose the one Ramsgate resident won’t be happy till there are 2,500 houses on the site, then what she be saying about noise and pollution then. Its been an air field for many years before she was about.

    • It’s not just one Ramsgate resident. Hundreds of local residents don’t want Ramsgate to be next to a noisy polluting airport, and have therefore contributed to the funding of the judicial reviews.

          • I fail to see why the referendum is regularly used as a bad example in these circumstances. It was by far the clearest form of democracy we are likely to see in this country for a very long time. There is no way our local election’s can be compared. There were multiple parties to vote for that all had multiple issues they campaigned on.
            The Brexit Referendum was a simple nation wide vote on one issue with a for or against choice. Probably the best example of Proportional Representation, where the majority of votes decided the results.

      • I am a resident in Manston and l and many other residents want the airport to go ahead, it will be good for our area. What we certainly don’t need is more housing, there are currently thousands of houses being built in this area, without the facilities to accommodate thousands more residence, schools, jobs, doctors, dentists, water, drainage etc. The airport is a big part of our area and should undoubtedly be allowed to reopen

    • The wonders of a reasonably functional democracy, everyone has there chance to challenge and try to get things changed, it’s partly why this country takes so long to get anything done.

    • Oh, Masters is back again with his unsubstantiated claims, what was it the other day Masters, 686 migrants came ashore, who were not migrants, Duuuh! Doncaster airport is seeking a new owner as it has gone into administration, and laid off 800 workers, it could be picked up for song, and its better located! Southend, and the West Midlands airports are in trouble too I believe due to lack of demand, so it will be hard to prove “national Need” for a cargo hub at Manston, I would have thought! This Judicial Review has been forced on those of us who have donated thousands of pounds towards it, because its a publicity stunt by the 2 Thanet Chocolate Teapot MP’s, who think promoting it is a vote winner and will get them re-elected, don’t be fooled by them!

  2. It would undoubtedly be better to have 2,500 houses on Manston than on green fields round the Villages.
    And it’s not just “one Ramsgate Resident” It’s thousands.

    The JR looks at the process by which the SoS reached his decision. For example, the judge asked if it was reasonable that the SoS gave great weight to Azimuth Aviation’s unsubstantiated claims about growth and jobs, and none to the correctly referenced report from OveArup (commissioned by the SoS).

    • And I expect tens of thousands residents are in favour of an airport. The local elections were a farce, how can the controlling council say otherwise with between 19 and 46 percent of people in wards voting. The only true way to get the residents option is to have a vote, where everyone MUST vote, with the question being ” Do you want a working airport at Manston ” with the options on the voting slip, Yes or No. Then and only then will there be a TRUE opinion of the residents.

      • I agree Paul. I a world where plenty voted for brexit, many will want the airport.

        The promises of what the “airport” will deliver might as well be written on the side of a red bus.

        The fact people believe there is gold at the end of rainbow speaks volumes for the education system.

        I would however rather the airport wasn’t blocked and we could agree that “one last try” was enough to satisfy the “airport will save Thanet crew” I’ve heard that my entire life and it has never has brought real jobs or real benefit. Why can’t people see that?

        It’s madness to keep trying something that failed to make any real local impact over and over.

        The RAF papered over the cracks and even they didn’t like it

      • If such an extreme measure was taken the question should read ‘do you want a 24/7 freight hub being opened at Manston?’ as that is what is being proposed.

      • Paul

        Why waste our time voting ?

        Manston will stand or fall on its income.

        My gut feeling if its gets the go ahead, RSP will be the 5th to go bust.

  3. SMAa have, it seems, changed their rolling adverts on here.
    I note that schools are, apparently, being denied £1000s because of the delays in the DCO.
    It’s worth pointing out that this money (a requirement of the DCO, not an act of spontaneous largesse by RSP) is to pay towards soundproofing.
    Not needed, if there are no planes roaring overhead every few minutes.

    • Incorrect it was in the documents that RSP set out yet another lie from the anti brigade

        • No when making a statement on facts the Phyllis Phyllis quot said RSP was not looking at putting money into schools for noise reduction which is incorrect as it was actually in there initial documents stating they would it’s not the Order making them do that like you are suggesting and as to why has the money not already been released it is clear a company would not donate this until building is under way as normal Andrew your are spouting lies and misleading information to push your narrative.

  4. Apparently, m “Judicial reviews have cost £millions that RSP had earmarked for supporting more Thanet charities and local causes”
    The JR has in no way prevented RSP from making donations to local good causes. They could, if they wanted, dish up some of the £8.4M the government gave them for Operation Brock.
    Has RSP fulfilled its pledge to donate £150,000 to the Thanet trees initiative?

  5. The money SMAa and RSP claim schools are being denied is for SOUND PROOFING. It’s no where near enough anyway and is already worth 15% less as it isn’t index linked. If there was no airport it wouldn’t be needed. It says a lot about the standard of journalism on the IOTN that such a misleading advert by SMAa is allowed

    • The s106 agreement with Thanet District Council includes an initial payment of £250k and 20 subsequent annual payments of £50k to be paid towards education and training as provided for in the Education, Employment and Skills Plan.

      The s106 agreement with Kent County Council includes an annual payment of £139k for twenty years to be paid to seven named schools for noise insulation and any other measures deemed necessary to benefit the pupils of the schools against the impact of the operation of Manston Airport.

      An advert isn’t journalism

      • “The s106 agreement with Kent County Council includes an annual payment of £139k for twenty years to be paid to seven named schools for noise insulation and any other measures deemed necessary to benefit the pupils of the schools against the impact of the operation of Manston Airport.”
        Surely the operation of the airport isn’t going to have a negative impact on the children of Thanet?
        What about the electric planes?
        Never mind the 7 schools, what about 1000s of homes that will suffer from the impact of the airport? Don’t they matter?

        • I’m pointing out they are two different obligations to address a question that was raised. I made no comment on my view of the agreements or the airport issue

        • Yeah that’s not how a business works no matter how remote of a chance JD wins they won’t start building until any case is resolved that’s just normal business you would be moaning if they did start as well

          • If I had everyth8ng in place to launch a business (eg : I want to start an air cargo service, and I own an airport), then I wouldn’t wait the best part of 10 years, quite unnecessarily, before starting up.
            There’s something very, very fishy about this whole scheme.

  6. The reasons stated against the 24/7 cargo hub were noise, need, climate harm and damage to Ramsgate’s tourism industry.THE MOST VITAL ONE is the threat from the killer particulates that air craft will expose residents to when flying low over the town on the same path day in day out there is no vaccine against them the only cure is no planes.

    • No. I don’t believe that’s the complaint many of us have. It’s always been an airport. You can’t complain if planes land at an airport. This isn’t a NIMBY thing for many of us. It’s a realist thing. This will not provide local jobs. Not in any real amount. It will take up a lot of local land and never really help Thanet.
      It will like end up like the other schemes end up in some sort of half con/half failure. The company have a sketchy track record and have made some ridiculous claims of the jobs it will create.
      The airport is just a non starter.

      Why waste more time and allow these chancers to no doubt get funding and grants for something they won’t ever back fully?!?

      When do we move on? This fails and someone else buys it cheap and claims they do an airport. The usual suspects get all excited about 50k jobs and all the “growth” it’ll be bring to Thanet.

      Or do we use the land for real businesses to move in and create real jobs?!? I don’t know why everyone says “homes vs airport” the government and councils should force the area to be used for business use. Use the money they’d throw at the airport over the years and that really would help Thanet.

      Just an idea…..

  7. Philip masters the last JR showed the DFT acted unlawfully in passing the DCO. Are you in favour of government departments acting unlawfully ?

    • It’s a bit late to be against our Government and PMs acting unlawfully. The are always at it. The public still vote for them.

  8. Kathy Bailles it’s still not enough as it was concluded that schools needed £300k to fully soundproof against the noise levels that a cargo hub flying directly over will create. Have they coughed up the other £65k promised for trees or their share of the legal costs from the last JR?

    • Apparently RSP says it will not pay the costs for Jenny in the last JR. I believe there is a statement somewhere on their website. I think the trees are paid for now although I’d need to check with the guys at Thanet Urban Forest. I’m not saying the soundproofing sum is or is not enough, I’m saing that the documents show these as two different obligations under sec 106 agreements.

      • Kathy, any chance of a link to where RSP have made this statement about costs? I had a look but couldn’t locate it. Thanks

    • Ian if work had already started they it would have cost a lot less and dare I say the soundproofing would have probably helped the schools saving on the heating bills but you don’t appear to look at the finer detail just what supports your narrative as normal

  9. We live among very miserable sad people who complain about anything. The lazy judge should just get on with it and safe the taxpayers a lot of money. Non elected judges do not run this country governments do. The JR will be defeated.

  10. Yea William

    And about 60% of the population didnt vote for this government, that’s why we need JR.

  11. Well I lived under the flight path when it was an operating airport and it was nothing compared to the noise coming from some of the people on here. Why move near an airport and then complain about noise? Maybe I’ll moan about the smell of beer coming from my local pub even though it was already there when I moved in.

    • Mike, the airport hasn’t been an airport for 9 years so all the new people that have moved to the area in that time have , in affect, moved in next to a very large piece of wasteland that just happens to have a very old runway.

  12. A 100’s don’t want it and 1000’s do.
    Why not have a local referendum? a peoples say?
    One person trying her luck to put a stop to it with a few hundred feeding her the costs to argue it in high court don’t seem right – what about the peoples right?

    £75,750 from 1,235 pledges
    Not many out of the 142,000+ people who live in Thanet.

    The first one failed
    Funded on 16th July 2020
    £118,951 from 1,994 pledges
    They did slightly better back then – But it still lost the review.

    • Meanwhile, a fundraiser for the Manston Museums, launched in 2021, has raised £1,725 from 55 donations.

  13. Lord help us, nothing is stopping RSP from starting construction at all apart from a list of conditions they have to meet. By the same token nothing to stop them paying the schools. After all they got £8.5m off the DFT basically for nothing.They obviously aren’t that confident in their case at all. Even their CAA areodrone and flight path application has stalled and the consultation that should have taken place in January hasn’t

  14. As a child I used to plane spot at the end of the runway of course it was an RAF base in those days imo it should have remained so.
    There was no arguement about noise or pollution at that time, I think the problem is that so many people have moved to the area whilst the airport has been dormant now there it is showing signs of life again people do not want their peace and quiet disturbed, well maybe just maybe they should have given a little bit of thought to that when they moved here.

    • Alternatively, perhaps the effects of noise and pollution were not as well known in the early days of aviation when you were a child.
      We used, for example, to place our petrol with tetra ethyl lead – until the terrible effect it had on children’s health was realised.
      We are even more enlightened know. It’s quite right that we should be concerned about the effecof aviation in us.

    • I agree,the fact that the council many years ago allowed the building of Nethercourt is part of the problem. No one is going to admit that. Both my sons grew up in the flight path when military aircraft flew over our house and slept even though the nose landing gear lights lit up their bedroom. I would also like to add that modern aircraft are far more quiet than military aircraft. Finally Ramsgate tourism, are you being serious, have a look at that town, one hundred yards in from the harbour area its like Beirut with windows.

  15. Before anyone starts playing the blame game about delays please understand two things; RSP choose to continue with the DCO and it is DfT who have produced badly reasoned decisions to grant the DCO.

    RSP could have easily applied to TDC for planning permission after they bought the site three years ago. The DfT have twice produced two justifications for granting the DCO against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate. The first was so poorly drafted they withdrew it straight away once there was a threat of a JR. The current one, made by a Minister of seven weeks standing, is also weak. In order to make the case the DfT have relied heavily on anonymous testimony, chosen to go with Azimuths figures and disregard the five other consultant’s estimates (including the one the DfT commissioned themselves) and to assume that other airports in the south east would not be able to go ahead with any expansion plans.

    As we are often told that RSP are so well funded and totally confident of winning the legal battle then there is nothing at all to stop them donating to local charities, making payments etc.

    • I agree with “Markmywords”.
      Just as soon as the ink waw dry on the transfer deed, RSP (with funding if £500M from their backers) could have approached TDC for planning permission to restart the airport. At that time, TDC was lead by the very pro-Manston Tory Party. Ashe Ashby, Leader, was a guest at SMAa bbqs. RSP would have had little problem.
      But they didn’t. I wonder why?
      And despite Manston not functioning as an airport, and contrary to the claim that it’s of National Significance, I don’t see any signs that our economy has been brought to its knees.

  16. “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 Southeast, delivering new economic and employment opportunities for the people and organisations of East Kent and beyond,” RSP said.

  17. The SMAa advert claims that there will be “thousands of jobs for local people”.
    Let’s unpick that a bit.
    “Thousands of jobs” means not only direct jobs at Manston (about 100) but includes the taxi driver who brings the air traffic controller to work; the man in the factory that manufactures the taxi’s tyres; the pet food salesman who sells rabbit food to feed the tyre maker’s children’s rabbits. Etc.
    “Local People” means anyone who lives this side of the Medway.
    It’s just absurd to believe that the Azimuth Report (accepted without question by the SoS) can make such accurate projections about the number of employees in 20 years’ time. An quick analysis of the figures shows that Azimuth expects simple exponential growth from year 6 to year 20. Almost certainly utter tosh.

  18. It’s also illegal to hire people based on where they live.

    Local jobs for local people is undeliverable and factually, RSP defines local as a 90 min commute. Way beyond Medway.

    We also never hear from aviation job hunters on here. Funny that.

    Especially as Roger Gale admits Thanet Earth can’t find staff.

  19. And the latest SMA advert, like all adverts, must comply with ASA standards. People cannot simply advertise lies.

    • The tricky bit, Emmeline, is that SMAa isn’t actually peddling lies, per se.
      I think that their adverts are rather unpleasant, attempting to blame Jenny Dawes in particular and airport opponents in general of wreaking havoc on the economy of Thanet.
      But this has been the main plank of their campaign from the outset: rather than present a fact based logically constructed argument, they hurl abuse at anyone who dares to oppose the notion of commercial aviation at Manston

      • Andrew, now you Snowflakes are peddling lies stating there will be night flights. You can’t have it both ways you know.

        • RSP have said that there will be no SCHEDULED night flights. Freight flights are hardly ever SCHEDULED. It was admitted in the examination by the Planning Inspectorate that there would be up to seven night flights on average.

  20. Airports everywhere closing or in financial difficulties, demand for air transport down,airport closed for nearly 10 years so obviously no ‘stragic need’ as no-one’s bothered much, surrounded by the sea on three sides so no catchment area, every former owner pulled out as they could not make an airport pay, over an hour away from London even on the fastest train with the cost of a train ticket much higher than most air fares. These is absolutely no case for re-opening it, such a shame that the opportunity to create real and lasting jobs on the site in the last 10 years has been lost.

  21. Schools are waiting is a lie.

    Schools are at monstrous risk of noise pollution. Fact.

    In a town with no public safety zone despite aircraft planned to come in at less than 1,000 feet every 15 minutes.

    For SMA to infer that a democratic judicial review is somehow depriving Thanet schools is appalling.

    The noise monitoring device in Chatham and Clarendon School routinely measured noise levels in excess of 1000 decibels.

    This is the reality.

    And yet the SMA advert somehow suggests schools are deprived.

    I’d imagine schools are horrified. Just like the silent majority.

  22. And when SMA says funding, perhaps noise insulation is what they mean. Waiting for years? Spin spin spin.

    The advert also attempts to suggest we are not entitled to a legal and democratic process such as a JR.

    Also inferring some moral impact on a town long since improved since the airport last went bust.

    Utterly dreadful and surely unacceptable.

  23. Common sense and past history coupled by the many independent reports conducted and paid for by TDC, would show that this is flogging a dead horse. Doomed to fail again, how many more times before the land is used for something really beneficial. So dumb, dumb, dumb.

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