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, 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.
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.
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.