RiverOak to discuss proposals for Manston airport site with council leader and officers

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

RiverOak Strategic Partners[RSP] will meet with Thanet council leader Rick Everitt and senior staff next week to discuss the firm’s future plans for the Manston airport site.

At a council meeting last night [December 7] Cllr Everitt said he had invited Tony Freudmann, of RSP, to the council to hear about RSP’s intentions.

Birchington councillor Phil Fellows requested a report of that meeting be arranged for the next full council gathering in February but Cllr Everitt said he would be happy to discuss his findings before that date.

A motion put forward by Garlinge councillor John Worrow [pictured] to discuss a proposal to invite RiverOak Strategic Partners [RSP] to present their plans for Manston airport at a specially arranged extraordinary meeting for all councillors failed to go forward for discussion.

Cllr Worrow’s motion was: “As the democratically elected representatives of the people of Thanet, we recognise that the time has come for us to put our political differences aside, and to acknowledge that we are duty bound to welcome with open arms, the inward investment that is so crucial to the economic growth necessary in order to create the jobs needed for our children and grandchildren.

“Manston airport is of vital concern to local residents, therefore, it is in the interests of everyone living in Thanet to hear the current proposals of RiverOak Strategic Partners, and for us as their district councillors, to put our words into action, and  to invite Tony Freudmann and the RiverOak Team to make a presentation to the Full Council, which is to be an extraordinary meeting no later than the 1st March 2024.”

However, Cllr Everitt said as no council decision making was required calling an extraordinary meeting would not be appropriate.

He said : “The political groups have been invited to the airport for a tour and Q&A. I am very happy to invite Mr Freudmann to come to council and talk to members at a members’ briefing as he did two years ago [online due to the pandemic].”

Cllr Everitt said members’ briefings did not involve costs, unlike an extraordinary meeting, and were not procedural.

He added: “Council meetings are for discussing council business and making decisions. Members are not being asked to make any decisions about the airport. For that reason I will not be supporting [the] motion as I don’t believe such a meeting would be necessary or appropriate.”

Councillors voted against discussing the motion further.

Tony Freudmann of RSP

Tony Freudmann, of RSP, confirmed plans for councillors to visit the airport site next weekend. He said: “Having already welcomed the Thanet District Council Conservative group to the airport and also extended invitations to Green Party and Independent councillors, RSP looks forward to welcoming the Labour group to the airport next weekend for a tour of the airfield, presentation, and discussion.

“For those who wish to take it, there is also the opportunity to view the whole area from above, as Helix Aviation has kindly offered to provide short helicopter rides too.

“Given that our plans for Manston looks set to deliver the largest single investment in East Kent since the Channel Tunnel, we are committed to ensuring local stakeholders feel fully informed about our proposals for the airport and can ask any questions they may have on behalf of their constituents.”

Cllr Everitt said Labour members had declined the offer of helicopter rides.

Legal challenge

A legal challenge against the granting of a Development Consent Order for the airport project to go ahead is still in motion with an application to the Court of Appeal made by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes.

This follows a lengthy journey of the DCO being approved by government in July 2020  and then quashed in the High Court in February 2021 following a legal challenge by Ms Dawes. It was again granted in August 2022 followed by a second Judicial Review bid by Ms Dawes.

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 a hearing before Honourable Mr Justice Ian Dove in July 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.

Mr Justice Dove issued a lengthy judgement dismissing the application in September. Ms Dawes applied for permission to appeal against the judgement but this was denied by Mr Justice Dove in October.

Ms Dawes has now made an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. The outcome of this action is still awaited.

Freight plan

RSP wants to create aviation at the site with a cargo freight 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.

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

75 Comments

    • You will be waiting a long time yet Steven, didn’t you understand the DCO is going to appeal again! There are plenty of us mainly in Ramsgate, who will be directly affected should cargo planes fly in over Ramsgate harbour at less than 300 meters high, destroying property values and existing hospitality jobs, and wrecking the health of tens of thousands of people. The only thing likely to fly from Manston, are pigs! The 2 chocolate tea pot MP’s for Thanet are promoting Manston because the think it will win them votes, and they couldn’t care less about the thousands of people who will have their lives wrecked the traitors!

  1. I’m sure we’re all very keen to hear of RiverOak’s plans.
    They haven’t told anyone yet as to how they’re going to make them work.
    Nor where the £500,000,000 is going to come from.
    Nor how they plan to pay a return to investors and service the debt.
    Nor where, when or how the High Resolution Direction Finder aerial will be relocated.
    Nor when they’re going to get a CAA licence.
    etc
    etc
    etc

  2. As RSP is just one UK director who is in his mid 70s just who will be there in 15 years?
    Cllr Sam Bambridge perhaps
    “RSP wants to create aviation at the site with a cargo freight 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.”

  3. It’s time for Manston to come back to life, stop trying to block something that’s been an airport for over 100 years,time also for TDC to butt out, for too long in its history they have strangled a lot of lucrative businesses resulting in our loss of money to East Kent and badly needed jobs, we need new businesses allowed to flourish TDC keep out. Now let’s get on with it.

      • Manston has not been an airport for 100 years.
        It hasn’t been anything (other than a lorry park) for the past 12 years.
        And no matter what your opinion of TDC, as Planning Authority, they will have a major rôle to play in both the construction and operation of the site.

    • Rita King

      The only thing stopping manston is its poor location and poor infrastructure.

      Who is investing 500million ?

      Which companies are relocating from the Midlands ?

      Which haulage companies are flying into manston ?

      It’s just a con there is nothing going for manston as an airport

  4. Exciting news about the airport reopening!

    (far more importantly, John Worrow’s lost a lot of weight since I knew him years ago, hope he’s OK!)

  5. Ramsgate Town Council Labour party will never back or support Manston Airport, just a load of Snowflakes. Andrew, Companies will never state who their investors are.

    • I imagine in this case RSP can’t say who thier investors are because they don’t have any.
      This was made clear during the DCO Examination process.
      RSP said that, were a DCO to be granted, investment would be invited from a carefully selected list of interested parties.
      But think about this.
      If £500M was invested for (say) 20 years, at 4.5 %, it would cost £3.16 M a month to pay it off.
      RSP claim there will be (it varies quite a lot, but let’s say) 3000 employees.
      Suppose each of them gets the UK average salary.
      That’s another £8,000,000 (plus NI, pension contributions etc)
      That’s heading for £12M every month.
      Louise Congdon of York Aviation did a detailed analysis of RSP’s business plan (something Sally Dixon omitted to do) and concluded that in order to meet its outgoings, RSP would have to charge such high landing fees that no carrier would use Manston.
      If you have a different opinion, I’d be keen to see your argument.
      RSP would, too.

      • Andrew are you really the dumb or as usual making something up which suits your narrative as normal? we all know that’s not how investors work especially on this scale

        • Puttong aside your unnecessary rudeness, perhaps you’d explain how investors on “this scale” do work?
          Louise Congdon of York Aviation (I don’t think she’s “dumb”) gave evidence before a KCC committee to the effect that Manston would be so expensive to finance that its landing fees would be so high no one would use Manston.
          I agree. I have made some stuff up. I’ve had to, because hard facts and RSP are strange bedfellows. But I’ve assumed 3000 employees, a median wage of about £600 per week, an interest rate of 4.5% and an investment period of 20 years.
          Please feel free to present your own argument, rather than abuse, to explain how you think RSP could be a success.

          • lol and he still goes on where have you got this magical 20 years from investors are in for the long run that’s how they make money. The York aviation report is not worth the paper it’s written on no report can give us the exact answer on what’s going to happen that’s the truth of it. And maybe if you was not rude to other they would not be rude to you stone and a glass house really there

          • Andrew as advised that’s not how investors get money I suggest you do some research and learn some facts you never know you might find it interesting. Just because some one is widely consulted does not actually mean anything I’ve come across a lot of people have all the degrees been to this and that university but actually have no understanding so yes still stands it’s not worth the paper it’s written on the only thing that will show if it will work or not is to let manston open as a cargo airport.

          • As I explained, I made some assumptions; in particular that an investor might want his capital back after 20 years. It’s not a magical number, it’s an assumption. I (and so could you) could work out the monthly costs for 25 or 30 or whatever years, at different sorts of interest rate.
            But it gives a bit of an indication as to how much RSP would have to pay out every month.
            Louise Congdon of York Avistion is a world authority on matters relating to the business of aviation. She and her firm are widely consulted by organisations and governments.
            I would say that her reports (which are broadly in line with a dozen others, including those commissioned by the Government) are worth considerably more than the paper they’re written on.

  6. The government’s own inspectorate concluded that opening a cargo hub would see a net loss of jobs!
    TDC may not be best at facilitating jobs but a manston cargo hub is not the answer.

  7. I note that Mr Freudmann is quoted as saying that he’s “extended invitations to Green Party and Independent councillors”. As Leader of the Green group of councillors on Thanet District Council I can confirm that we have not received invitations.

  8. Cllr Green, your opinion, and comments please, as you now live in Nethercourt, and Cllr Everitt is also Labour, and you have always been against the airport

    • My opinion on the proposed freight hub is that it would be severely detrimental to the health of the residents I represent in Nethercourt and of the other parts of Ramsgate under the flight path. I’m not convinced by claims regarding employment prospects or what I know of the proposed business plan. However, I will be taking up the invitation to listen to Mr Freudmann, because air freight is a fast moving field and I might learn something.

  9. “our plans for Manston looks set to deliver the largest single investment in East Kent since the Channel Tunnel”

    … and how exactly has Kent benefited from the channel tunnel?

    We can’t even get to the continent from Ashford International. We need to go all the way to St Pancras; a detour of over 100 miles just to get to our starting point!

    How many people are employed in Kent these days to keep the non-stop London to Paris service up and running?

    And how many ferry-based jobs have disappeared in Folkestone, Dover and Ramsgate since that tunnel opened?

  10. Think it’s going to be very much a case of when the tide goes out we see who’s not wearing swim shorts! The whole thing stinks more than the con of brexit.

    To the person above who claimed it’s been an airport for over 100 years, stop talking rubbish! There has been a runway there but for the bulk of that time it has been unused and has provided minimal employment when it has been used.

    When will the British public stop falling for rich boys lies, have you learnt nothing in the last 15 years! You are just cannon fodder for them, stop being fooled by these idiots, you are better than that!

    • Mr Freudmann is not worth the paper his name is written on. It’s all speculating and lies. Something he is known for in previous attempts with aviation elsewhere. After decades of his involvement at Manston we are no further down the line to reopening it as a going enterprise. Housing developments are in the meantime being built ever closer to the perimeter of the site and pretty much all around it. The whole spectacle is a charade and just having a detrimental affect on Thanet. No big business wants to come and set up there, it’s just a dumping ground. Not even the council can fix the area with all the millions of pounds given to it in government improvement grants.

  11. Don’t you worry Andrew, RSP won’t be asking you for any money or support as there is plenty of both.
    RSP won’t want or need any support from the Snowflake Town Council.

    • John you are deluded and foolish if that is what you think. You must have gammon for every meal and eat the Daily Mail in between for snacks. You are more than likely among the braindead minority that think brexit was a success and we are better off as a nation. You are a fool

    • There are many of us (including the Planning Inspectorate) who would like to know where the money is coming from. If you know, enlighten us.
      And indeed, I wouldn’t invest a single £ in this venture for two reason:
      Over a dozen internattuonally acclaimed aviation experts, including those appointed by the Government, say there’s no commercial future for Manston as an airort;
      The CEO of RSP is a struck-off embezzling solicitor with a track record, going back decades, of taking on failing regional airports and grinding them into the ground.
      As for suport: where was it in 2014 (the most recent occasion that Manston went bust)? It failed because too few people used it. There just wasn’t enough support.

      • Andrew – I bet you would not let ‘failed Solicitor’ know your full name and address for fear of being sued for your remarks about him. As too where the money is coming from to invest in Manston, that’s nothing to do with you. Please give it a rest

        • The “failed solicitor” would be wasting his time.
          What would he sue me for? You cannot be sued for libel if you’re telling the truth.
          I’m just quite intrigued to know who, if anyone, would invest anything in this project.

  12. Why are the people who are convinced the Airport is not viable & doubt that investors will be found so worried?

    • Exactly.

      Reminds me of those anti-Tesco protesters in Margate a few years back who claimed “No-one wants it!”. In that case, “No-one” would shop there.

    • There’s a huge area of land up at Manston that for a dozen years has sat there doing nothing. If the DCO is granted, and RSP gets its act together and actually resurrects the airport, I suspect that still not very much will happen.
      Meanwhile. 1000s of houses that could have been built there are now being built on greenfields, and there is a proposal to build a huge electrical substation nearby, on Minster Msrshes.
      The sooner RSP give up this farce, the sooner something useful can be done with the land.

      • Anyone who thinks that building on a the airport would stop them building elsewhere is living in cloud cuckoo land. Developers are greedy, ditto TDC.

        • Well said I have said this many times re if houses had gone on airport land they would have still done houses on green fields developers would not have just stopped once manston was built on anyone who thinks other wise is kidding themselves

          • Just where developers could build houses was determined in the Local Plan.
            The LP specified that houses could not be built at Manston. Government policy dictated that we must build 17,000. So, as no houses could be built at Manston, they all had to be built elsewhere in Thanet. Including greenfield sites.

          • That would not stop developers they will build then build more and build more if you think a local plan would stop them you are very much mistaken mind every post you makes seems to be filled with incorrect facts or assumptions Andrew

  13. Mr Freudmann, must be panicking now, this isnt the result he wanted lol.

    He now has to find these investors of 500 billion, he has to find a cheaper way of bring the fuel in by tanker, he has to find haulage companies prepared to come to the bottom right hand corner of England, he has to find aircraft companies ( not his mate our MP little aircraft company ) prepared to move from the Midlands, he has to find huge companies who are going to relocate to thanet.

    I’m not in the slightest but worried as manston will never be a big airport again.

    • No part of the development can begin until a whole bunch of issues detailed in the DCO arw satisfactory addressed.
      Not least the MoD’s High Resolution Direction Finder aerial.

    • A recent (last couple of months) FoI request to the MoD reveals that RSP have had no contact with the MoD over the HRDF issue fir several years.
      A glance at the CAA Web site shows that RSP’s application for an aerodrome licence has stalled at an early stage.
      We shall see, indeed.

  14. The council wants to build more houses on the site so they can had them over to there London council friends, like there doing already to move all there trouble making tenants away, maybe link the site to Nethercourt estate and have the word London in the new name, just like they called it London manston.

  15. Id like to know who’s bank rolling Ms Dawes, and who she is acting on behalf of, in her plan to thwart this happening?, all this messing around needs to get sorted, and a final Yes its happening or no its not. If the answer is a firm NO , then be prepared for a new town to be built on that airport land. You’ll all moan then when theres more demand on schools,doctors and infrastructure in general . IMO if its doesnt go ahead it should be a wind and solar farm

  16. There seems to be a general misunderstanding by airport supporters of what crowd-funding something, e.g. a judicial review, means. Ms Dawes and hundreds of others contributed money towards the cost of the judicial reviews. It is not “her plan”, it is “our joint attempt”.

    • That’s generally the case with airport supporters.
      They simply cannot accept that there are thousands of folk quire prepared to put their hands deep in their pockets and cough up hundreds of thousands of pounds to support the JR.
      Do this absurd notion that Developers were drip feeding money into the campaign was put about.
      If a Developer wanted to challenge the DCO, why would they not simply launch a JR?

    • They’re good at that. It’s all part of the mysterious and strange way they act.
      How long has Thanet been blighted by this continuous act? Nowhere else in the UK would have accepted the nonsense for decades like Thanet Council has. It should have been settled years ago.

      • Cllr Rick Everitt said it was rearranged and no big deal when asked about it. Also I think you’ll find I report from both sides

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