Manston airport site owners call for ‘reform of planning laws’ – legal challenge to project continues

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

As the legal battle continues over whether a government order granting permission for the development of Manston airport was legally sound, the owners of the former MoD airfield say a reform of planning laws is needed.

RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) want to create an airfreight hub at the site but say the process has become “mired in legal challenge after legal challenge.”

How the government decision for the airport scheme was made has been hotly contested in the courts through a Judicial Review and a number of appeals, arguing that it was flawed on grounds including need for the facility not being proven.

It is also a political wrangle with Conservative MPs and councillors, plus Thanet Independents, backing the scheme while Labour and Green members are firmly against.

It has been almost 10 years since the airport was shut down by former owner Ann Gloag in May 2014. The Stagecoach tycoon had bought the site from Infratil for a nominal £1 in 2013, although this came with the baggage of accepting £23 million worth of outstanding loans.

A majority stake was then sold later that year to developers Chris Musgrave and Trevor Cartner of Discovery Park, who created a Stone Hill Park development scheme for business, leisure and housing. A £7million offer from US firm RiverOak Corporation had been refused. The payment was offered in a deal where Ann Gloag was asked to leave £2million in the owning company Skyport bank account making a net £5million offer.

A long journey followed which has included council CPO plans launched and then ditched, a Transport Select Committee hearing, an independent review, housing and business proposals for the site, deals for lorry parking  and a row over retaining aviation use only at the site that eventually decimated Thanet’s UKIP council.

DCO and appeal journey

In 2018 RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd, a UK registered body that bought the redevelopment project from its American namesake, applied for a Development Consent Order from government to get its airport plans off the ground.

This was followed by a Planning Inspectorate examination from January 2019 through to July 2019. The panel concluded that sufficient need for the project had not been demonstrated.

However, the government minister disagreed and the DCO was granted in July 2020.

It was quashed in the High Court in February 2021 following a legal challenge by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes and supporters 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 redetermined and then granted for a second time in August 2022 by then Transport Minister Karl McCartney.

In response a second Judicial Review application was launched. That was initially dismissed by Mr Justice Lane in January 2023 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 2023 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 October.

Ms Dawes then applied for permission to appeal against the judgement, but this was also denied.

The application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal was then lodged and has now been granted on the ground of need.

If the claim is dismissed, Ms Dawes could appeal to the Supreme Court.

Challenges

RSP, who paid £16.5 million to buy the airport site from Stone Hill Park in 2019, say the airport project “remains in suspended animation” and the years of wrangles “have served to highlight serious frailties in the UK planning system, which are seriously damaging investor confidence in the UK, preventing Manston from delivering on its strategic economic value to the nation and making a mockery of planning laws.”

Ms Dawes has said she is “firmly of the view that the government’s decision to proceed with Manston Airport, in the face of expert evidence to the contrary and in the context of the worsening climate crisis, is nonsensical, and the procedure followed by the Secretary of State was deeply flawed.”

Reform

RSP say the Government should reform planning laws ‘to provide a more efficient and defined process for the interrogation of major infrastructure planning applications.’ Manston is the first aviation DCO to be designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project by the UK Government.

In a statement RSP say: “RSP and its investors, which have collectively already spent more than £42 million on the project, call upon the Government to reform the major infrastructure planning laws.

“It is vitally important that the determination of nationally significant infrastructure projects should not be delayed for years through endless litigation and uncertainty, to the detriment of all involved – not least the defendant (in this case the Government and therefore the British public), and the relevant markets, economies and regional communities relying on the project’s investment in creating better transport infrastructure and employment opportunities.”

Procedure

Ms Dawes says the process for granting the DCO was “procedurally unfair” and the appeal will argue that there should not have been reliance on the Azimuth Report without having the underlying evidence or submitting that evidence to scrutiny by Interested Parties and in determining whether there is a need for the development, the Defendant irrationally relied on qualitative, rather than quantitative evidence.

The appeal will also claim there was an error of law, saying the minister was unlawfully advised in the briefing that the potential for growth at other airports was not a material consideration.

Project

RSP say the proposed airfreight hub at Manston would help the UK trade across the globe – importing vital and time-sensitive goods, including fresh fruit and medical supplies, providing air freight operators with “a realistic alternative to the overcrowded London airports, and easing the considerable road congestion caused by lorries carrying freight through the channel tunnel to European airports.”

They say the project will create around 650 construction jobs, and 2,000 permanent jobs once the airport is fully operational, as well as a chain of indirect jobs and that “several international investors are prepared to invest £800 million” in the scheme.

Opponents say the hub will have a damaging effect on tourism, health and climate and the UK already has existing freight capacity without Manston.

Judicial process

RSP has expressed frustration at the legal process, saying: “International investors cannot understand how the same issues can be litigated again and again, why there are so many stages to litigation in the UK and why each one takes so long.

“Although the integrity of the judicial system in the UK remains highly respected, the multitude of stages, the lengthy delays taken and the ability to challenge the same issues repeatedly have resulted in a significant loss of faith in the UK’s ability to support infrastructure development and inward investment effectively.”

North Thanet Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has said he is “determined to ensure that the legal absurdities of this case are brought to the attention of the Lord Chancellor.”

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay has voiced disappointment at the latest appeal decision, branding it as “simply another delaying tactic.”

Response – ‘pull the plug’

Ms Dawes, 77, has responded by saying it is time to ‘pull the plug’ on the project.

In a rare response to media requests for comment, she said: “Why are they complaining? There are very valid questions to answer. The appeal has been granted on the grounds of need for the airport. Reports by aviation experts – and the government’s own Planning Inspectors – already concluded that there is no need for the development.

“The government Examining Authority report clearly states: ‘the Applicant [RSP] has failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the Proposed Development.’ If the airport is not needed, then the jobs, the economic benefits and the profits will never happen.

“The political promise of prosperity can’t be delivered. Our local MPs are unfairly filling the people of Thanet with false hope. If independent aviation experts like Ove Arup – commissioned by the Department for Transport – agree the airport is not needed, then why are they being ignored?

“Airport owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) are not aviation experts. The airport has never worked commercially. It has failed three times and was more profitable as a lorry park than it was in 15 years as an airport. Throwing money at something doesn’t make it more viable. The investment figures the developers are quoting are absurd. No serious investor would touch this.”

Ms Dawes, who previously ran a grant making charity in London, says ‘too much time and money’ has been spent on the airport issue, adding: “RSP had an £8.5 million handout from the Dept for Transport for delays that didn’t materialise to a development that is not needed. It’s time for the government to pull the plug. It’s time for MPs Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay to stop misleading the electorate and start encouraging more realistic and sustainable investment in the area.”

The current position

In October Mr Justice Dove ruled there was no proper basis, within either of the grounds provided by Ms Dawes and her team, upon which permission to appeal could be granted.

However, this month Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Warby ruled that one ground was arguable, saying: “The judge’s approach to the significance of the International Bureau of Aviation report (supporting the need for Manston), the need for consultation upon it, and the proper interpretation of the ministerial briefing all seem to me to merit appellate scrutiny.

“I am not convinced that all the sub-grounds of Appeal Ground 1 have equal force. That said, each of the sub-grounds is properly arguable with a realistic prospect of success.”

He concluded there was no compelling reason for the court to hear an appeal on climate change grounds.

UPDATE: Appeal hearing

The appeal date has been set for one day at the Court of Appeal on April 24th.

100 Comments

  1. How about changing the planning laws so that a struck-off solicitor, with unknown backers, can’t go running off to the Government/Planning Inspectorate of they don’t like the decisions of local democracy ?

    • EgonSpengler

      Spot on

      It is surprising that investors are queuing to invest 800 million quid to a company fronted by a struck off solicitor. I guess big business isnt bothered about his record.

      The Government own inquiry said it’s a non starter yet our MP’s mates ignore the experts.

      It’s all very bizarre.

      I see nothing wrong with the present law just sounds like a typic Tories, we are winning we need to change the law to suit us

      • When you realise they likely want to see the airport up as a “freeport” “special economic zone” aka charter city, things will start to make more sense.

    • My temper flared when I saw riverdopes had got their way, so I was happy when Jenny bent over backwards to get the funding she needed for this fight. It’s fight, but no flight (excuse the pun). IOTN readers need to subdue their calls for the airport imo

    • How are the “majority” in favour going to fight back?
      The JR will have its day in court. A judge will determine whether or not the SoS must consider “need” in making his determination.

      • Shows how little you know it will be Judges not just one and once again the judge that has given permission is not even an expert on planning

  2. If and when the next appeal is over ,and if ms Dawes loses maybe then that should be it.How many more attempts can she do.Mind you it’s not her money ,or maybe a very small amount that she is spending.Might a high court judge make her pay River Oak costs if she loses,then see if her backers ,will donate a few million to her cause.And before anyone thinks I back a airport, I have stated it should be turned into a mini forest / green area.It is getting a bit boring now

    • You forget that the 1st Judicial Review led to the DfT withdrawing because they couldn’t prove there was a need for a new Cargo hub. It cost them £35,000
      Now we are back to the same need question.
      N ationally
      S ignificant
      I nfrastructure
      P roject
      The important word in the above is Nationally. In other words this project must benefit the UK to the degree its services cannot be met by existing airports.
      I have heard it said by supporters that it must be an NSIP because it was accepted by national planning for examination. This simply isn’t correct. Being accepted for examination just meant their paperwork was at an acceptable level to look at whether it met the criteria for a 6 month examination. In the end 4 experienced Inspectors came to this conclusion.
      “The Applicant’s failure to demonstrate sufficient need for the Proposed Development, additional to (or different from) the need which is met by the provision of existing airports, is important and relevant against the case for development consent being given”
      Looking at the many comments on supporter pages their overall opinion is that Thanet needs the jobs that an Cargo Hub will bring and that retaining Manston as a wedge will protect Thanet from becoming a massive estate.
      History will show quite clearly that Manston as a profitable business has never succeeded and if the latest figures are to believed £800 Million in Capital Expenditure is required to built a State of the Art Cargo Hub. The question is if Manston has failed to make any profit since 1959 how will £800 Million be repaid to the investors?
      Currently 89% of aircargo tonnage comes through Heathrow, Stanstead and East Midlands airports and all have capacity to take more. East Midlands for example is at 29% capacity, Stanstead at 64% and Heathrow cargo comes in the belly of Passenger planes.
      To conclude there is no “NEED” to open Manston as a Cargo Hub but unfortunately the mass psychosis from supporters means they are unable to accept that reality

  3. Perhaps we need a reform of planning laws where the DCO examiners recommendations are upheld in law ? It’s an absolute joke that after one of the biggest DCO planning enquiries ever costing everyone involved time and money the SOS/DFT ignores recommendations to refuse it on many issues. I think people forget the first judicial review showed the DFT/SOS acted unlawfully.

  4. Ray the bread perhaps RSP should pay Jenny Dawes the legal fees they owe her from the first JR but have refused to. As for not her money you are right people have voluntarily contributed because they don’t want a 24/ cargo hub flying over their homes and town

    • Correct Ramsgate resident, I have donated several thousands of pounds towards the legal cost, which would be totally unnecessary had the 2 Chocolate Tea Pot MP’s for Thanet not got the Sec of State to defy the Planning Inspectorate in the first place! Neither of them live in Thanet, and couldn’t give a hoot if dirty old cargo planes flew in over Ramsgate Harbour at less than 300 meters high, destroying the hospitality trade, and devaluing property, and businesses in Ramsgate! They think by promoting the re-opening of Manston will be a vote winner for them, so don’t be conned, it won’t be!

      • I’m against the airport, but given that when the airport was last open, summer hospitality trade didn’t seem affected in the slightest by anything but crap weather, how do you come to the conclusion the hospitality trade will be killed off? Can you share your research/stats that inform your opinion?

        • It was part of RSPs own evidence put before the Examining Authority that tourism would be adversly affected. All available on the NSIP site.

    • To Ramsgate resident ,did the court order River Oak To pay ms Dawes costs ,if it did why has she not taken legal action to get the money? And if the court did not state of it,a wrongful accusation by you

      • “The Interested Party (RSP) Shall pay the Claimant’s additional costs …… Such costs shall be limited to £35000”
        Seems quite conclusive to me

      • Yes the court order did say RSP were legally obliged to pay additional costs. I know for a fact RSP have refused to pay after they were billed. I suspect they have worked out it will cost more in the long run to try to get them to pay. Hardly honourable and shows them for the sort of people they are.

  5. “RSP say the Government should reform planning laws ‘to provide a more efficient and defined process for the interrogation of major infrastructure planning applications.”
    Didn’t we have that with the six month DCO enquiry that recommended refusal on many issues ?? A shame that HMG didn’t take heed because we wouldn’t even be here now if they did. Even the government’s own legal advisors agreed with the DCO examiners.He can’t really complain about legal challenges when all things being equal it should never have been passed anyway

  6. Very interesting to note Chris Musgrave’s involvement in purchasing a majority share in 2013 from Ann Gloag. How much scrutiny was placed on that transaction and the later sale of that land as Stone Hill Park for £16.5 million?
    I only ask as this is the same Chris Musgrave and his latest business partner, along with the connivance of the mayor (now Lord) Ben Houchen in the carve up of the South Tees regeneration project that has come under intense scrutiny from investigative reporting by Richard Brooks.

  7. One of the reasons why RSP went with a DCO is that the process would give them compulsory purchasing powers to buy the land the former airport occupied. RSP bought the land in 2019 and as such didn’t need the CPO powers any longer. They could have simply applied to the local authority for planning permission. RSP made the decision to keep going with the DCO and its inherent risk of judicial appeal. Its a bit rich for them to now start whinging about a planning process that they didn need to be part of.

    • Absolutely.
      As they own the site, why haven’t they applied for a CAA licence? Why aren’t the planes flying?

      • True, but the local authority has CPO powers as well. Those powers could be exercised as part of a planning application by RSP if it could be shown it is necessary for the operation of the airfield.

  8. An application was made by RSP for a DCO
    A planning enquiry was set up. A panel of 4 planning experts took evidence from a variety of sources.
    After months of deliberation, they concluded that a DCO was not warranted.
    The Secretary of State ignored the PI’s recommendation and granted the DCO.
    So Ms Dawes, with support from 1000s of concerned people, launched a JR.
    Before it ever came to court, the SoS and RSP withdrew the DCO.
    The SoS decided to redraft and reissue the DCO.
    To guide him, he commissioned world experts OveArup to produce a report.
    Which they did, confirming the PI’s conclusion, that there was no need for Manston.
    Once again, the SoS chose to ignore the advice he had asked for, and granted the DCO.
    Ms Dawes raised a second JR.
    And so here we are.

    I’ve no doubt that some would wish to see the JR process watered down or scrapped. It must be quite an obstacle to those in authority who make rash or crass decisions. Life would be so much easier for them were there to be no accountability.
    But, fortunately, we still have a JR process. And when a government minister makes an absurd decision, quite rightly ee is being held to review.

  9. Let’s see, the investors have put in £42 million, RSP so far have bought the site for £16.5 million. That leaves £25.5 million plus the £8.5 million of tax payers money gifted to RSP by the DfT for so called ‘delays in construction’. Seems someone is doing rather well from this whole drawn out process.

  10. Andrew, see the dates mentioned. I agree he has no involvement with RSP and Manston now, but he was involved in 2013.

  11. The proposed airport at Manston is an ongoing disaster for the people of Thanet.
    RSP must know it’ll never be viable – so they’re using it as a cashcow to milk US investors for theis own gain.
    Tragically – the opportunity was missed for this site to have been a mixed use development as part of the Local Plan. This would have resulted in a lower housing target AND eliminating the need to previous TDC administrations to allocated farmland for housebuilding.
    The last thing the UK needs is more air traffic and I sincerely hope the appeal is upheld.
    Don’t forget either – that the local Conservatives used their support of Manston as the basis of their campaign in last year’s local elections. The fact that Thanet turned red and green shows the depth of support the airport really has amongst residents.

  12. Liam Coyle – There are in excess of £800 million available to see the project completed !!!

    It was £300m, then it was £500m, now a “spokesman for RSP” say £800m+, let’s round it up to a BILLION and add some more inflation…. It’s going to be £1.5BILLION !!!!

    How are any investors ever going to see return??!!

      • ‘Possibly’ doing as much lifting there as ‘hydrogen barges’, ‘thanet parkway’, ‘local jobs for local people’, ‘carbon neutral’, and ‘airports dont impact negatively on the health and learning performance of children, and thats why I oppose the expansion of Heathrow to avoid the impact on my grandchild’

  13. When developers of housing, or in this case airports,start banging on about ‘reform’ what they mean is why should I be stopped from doing what I want when I want and devil take the hindmost.
    Let’s make it clear if the airport was located in such away to impinge on the lifestyles of those in support of the project,such as the two MPs, Tory clrs and the ragbag of Thanet independents,Reform party etc, I doubt if there would be all this ballyhoo.Most of those in support see only a perceived upside for them,with someone else (those living in Ramsgate) receiving the down side.This is not very community spirited,and gives the impression to the outside world of a divided district which harms inward investment.
    There was a public enquiry which met for many months, received copious data,reports and views, and after a period of reflection and consideration came to a verdict of non viability or necessity.Grant Shapps intervened unnecessarily and here we are.
    Jenny Dawes is just the representative person on which the legal action is delivered, but in reality it is being done on behalf of a group.The rule of law has checks and balances that stops politicians like Shapps acting in an arbitrary manner.Blaming Ms Dawes or allowing some undisguised misogyny full rein is no way to win friends and influence people.
    As I have said before, complete the legal process quietly and if RSP win their case the airport will no doubt start to operate within months, but it must be said I don’t think much of its chances with an incoming Labour Govt, trying to rebuild it’s green credentials.
    In the meantime can Ms V and Ms Pink, please use their real name of Peter Checksfield the chronicler of all things pop, it would make things so much more transparent.

  14. Wow, talk about a headline that’s throwing a tantrum! The RSP seems to be living in a fairy tale, imagining unicorns prancing around an airport they can magically open whenever they please, with money raining down like confetti on the runway while they hum “Fly Me to the Moon.” But let’s be real here.

    The public scrutiny of the DCO was no walk in the park; it was a battleground like no other in the history of the Planning Act. What we truly need is less of these wannabe cargo pilots and politicians with airline shares trying to strong-arm their way into wrecking Ramsgate. These overly dramatic headlines only serve to highlight their lack of professionalism. Time to tune out the fantasy and face reality.

  15. The main reform needed is in the definition of a NSIP, who should decide whether it is one or not (certainly not the sponsor or one of his previous workmates), who should decide whether it’s needed or not (the planning inspectors said Manston wasn’t needed and Arup the governments independent assessor agreed), what category of person should be able to apply for one (certainly not a struck off solicitor or offshore company with owners unknown), the need to provide details of lenders signed up to provide the funding. Most DCO applicants are large companies rated by Moodys or Standard and Poors with balance sheets showing substantial assets (RSP has no assets at all), the sponsor should be able to demonstrate a previous track record of operating a similar project successfully (RSP have no aviation operating experience as their senior director has only overseen multiple failures in the past)

  16. Has anyone actually seen the financial details of the money that has been donated to Ms Dawes fund to oppose Manston. If there is a financial report, can it please be published to the public, or at least tell us where it can be viewed. If we are unable to see the financial dealings of the fund to oppose Manston, “Smell a Rat” springs to mind. If everything is “above board” then there is no problem.

    • It’s in same file as the list of the unknown investors. If everything is “above board” then there is no problem.

    • Why Paul?
      There is in fact a CJ webpage were contributors money can be seen
      There is actually a quid Pro Quo reference confidentiality for the same reason RSP refuse to announce investors.
      RSP say the investors will be abused
      So why do you want to know names Paul
      Want to start a war of abuse

    • If you have any evidence that there is any financial impropriety in the crowd funding I suggest to go to the relevant authorities. All you have is innuendo. Either put up or shut up. If anything needs investigating it is RSPs financial dealings with money funneled into the UK via a series of offshore companies based in the BVI and Panama

  17. Jenny Dawes is hoping that if she keeps appealing against Manston Airport reopening Dawes is hoping that if Labour win the next election Labour will stop the Airport. I have written to Kier Starmer and been assured that Labour “ Will not wish to make any interference to the airport plans. “

    • Where does her money come from to do this. Political parties need to name beneficiaries. Ms Dawes hasn’t, to my knowledge, hasn’t done this, or even produced a financial report.

      • It’s not “her” money.
        The funds for the JR are being donated by 1000s of people who care passionately about the quality of life in Thanet in general, and Ramsgate in particular.
        There is absolutely no requirement whatsoever for Ms Dawes to publish any report.

        • You want names ??

          Remember the early days of the ‘campaign’ that they would actively stalk the legal owners, track their cars, register numberplates ?!! Scary stuff

    • Ms Dawes is hoping no such thing.
      There is an existing JR process, a process which is (thank goodness) still independent of political interference.

    • Ann, I have written to Keir Starmer too. In fact I told him that in the last Manston thread you said you were not going to vote Labour. He said “thanks for letting me know”.

    • Ann, can you provide any evidence of that? Its just that Keir has changed his mind a few times. I got a response saying that any airport plans endorsed by an MP with an airline to fly from Manston to Malaga would be rejected.

  18. I quite agree, it’s not HER money. So if you give money, surely you would like to know where it goes. All companies provide the details, and all charities provide the details, by law, why is this different ?? Maybe you would like to give me money if you agree to something I dont, and you dont, and many others dont like. But I dont tell you where the moneys gone.

    • I’ve donated money and I am more than happy with how its been spent. In fact, I will be donating some more.

    • I’ve a pretty good idea where the money goes. I’m really content to donate to this cause. In fact, I think I’ll donate a bit more, since you’ve raised the point.
      What is this recent obsession with where the money goes to and comes from?
      Surely, the really important question is: has the SoS broken the law (again) by regranting the DCO?

    • Paul link

      I gave money and trust it was use to try and stop this joke of an airport.

      If you are worried where your donation went connected GoFundMe

      But Paul please dont worry on my behalf

    • It’s all gone through crowd justice if you have any problems with that perhaps you should contact them and tell your concerns that they aren’t acting within the law. PS I’m just going to put a bit more in because it pisses you off.

  19. Some bizarre comments here.
    Concerns about:
    The definition of “resident”;
    Where the money has come from;
    Where the money is going to;
    The Labour Party manifesto.

  20. Tell them to Fxxk Off, who are they to dictate pur laws, some people voted for brexit under the premis of not having our laws decided by Europe however is it OK to allow a yank based tin pot firm to lobby MPs, to change laws, any brown envelopes changing hands? Careful what you wish for, could easily go against you.

  21. You can say all you want, but if money goes in a fund, for whatever purposes, there has to be accounts. I, and expect many others, would like to view them. Why are there so many objections to this. People donate anonymously to many good causes, but they have to provide accounts. Mr X, yet someone else, who is afraid to use his real name, I, and I expect tens of thousands dont worry about you, especially as you are worried about using your real name.

      • We know who you are, but maybe lie about your age. Mr. X is a character and antagonist from the 1998. 🤣🤣🤣

      • Most people on here use fake names. Even the supremely sanctimonious “George Nokes” either uses a fake name or doesn’t live in Thanet, as his name isn’t on the local electoral registers.

    • On the IoTN there are regular fund raising appeals for raising money for sick children and so on.
      No one has ever asked to see the accounts for these events.
      What’s so special about the JR appeal?
      Why the obsession?

    • Yes crowd justice have a list of who has donated but not available to the likes of you because of data protection and the fact it’s none of your business

  22. Just let them get on with the plans for the airport, it’s better then just sitting empty and having crap dumped on it .

  23. What a bizarre comment. Millions of folks donate to crowd funding or other fundraising projects every day.

    Why is it so inconceivable that the huge number of folks deeply concerned about this giant cargo hub wouldn’t want to crowd fund for their democratic right to raise objections given we’ve been

    If anything smells it’s the scent of mysterious overseas mystery investors with ever expanding money offers.

    If anyone needs to show us the money it’s Tony.

    • Bill

      What’s the matter with people Dawers is standing up for what a lot of people feel. By all means disagree with her but this is getting creepy now. Being rude about her, writing to HMRC. All the time you blindly believe (TF) and his investors of 800 million. I suggest if you think something is dodge you should look closer to home

    • The money goes to Ms Dawes’ lawyers; the money comes from people who make donations.
      There is absolutely no need for HMRC to be involved; the donations aren’t Gift Aided for example.
      I suppose there is an argument that people who’ve made donations might want to see how the money has been spent.
      But Ms Dawes is a private citizen. The donors are private citizens.
      No third party has any right (or business) demanding to see the accounts.

      • We know where the money is going- we can see the success of the legal team.

        Wouldnt it be ironic for the cargo supporters to demand to see the accounts (what, from the crowfund platform?) whilst we cannot see the accounts of RSP’s (hitherto unknown) funders?

  24. After a 6 month examination the conclusion was
    “the ExA concludes that the levels of freight that the Proposed Development could expect to handle are modest and could be catered for at existing airports (Heathrow, Stansted, EMA, and others if the demand existed). The ExA considers that Manston appears to offer no obvious advantages to outweigh the strong competition that such airports offer. The ExA therefore concludes that the Applicant has failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the Proposed Development, additional to (or different from) the need which is met by the provision of existing airports.”

    • Thank you very much! Now how many of the ‘against’ have signed thecarma petition? If not, do it do it!! Stand up and be counted!! People power has proved to be slowing this down so let’s jump on the Dawes bandwagon and stop it once and for all. 🙌🏼🙌🏼. This airport will need to be loud and working at high capacity to have a decent impact on jobs around here.. that capacity will obliterate this beautiful peaceful coastline and so many beautiful nearby villages and towns. Time to wise up and #saveourskies.

  25. On 7 February 2024, the Rt Hon Lord Justice Warby granted me permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the dismissal of my judicial review application challenging the decision of the Secretary of State to make a development consent order (DCO) for the re-opening of Manston Airport.

    In his Order, Lord Justice Warby reasoned that certain aspects of the High Court decision warranted appellate scrutiny and that the remaining arguments relating to “need’ were properly arguable with a reasonable prospect of success.

    The following day, a partner at BDB Pitmans, (RSP’s solicitors) Mustafa Latif-Aramesh, posted a commentary on BDB Pitman’s website that was picked up and echoed in posts by RSP, Sir Roger Gale MP, Craig Mackinlay MP, and by airport supporters.

    The thrust of these various attacks on the reasoned decision of an experienced judge of the Court of Appeal, is largely based in the argument that because Manston Airport is ‘critical infrastructure’, it shouldn’t be delayed by legal challenge. In the case of BDP Pitmans, Mr Latif-Aramesh further suggested that, since “people have had their fair go”, access to justice had been served and Aarhus costs protection (whereby the liability of the Claimant to pay the costs of the other side if they lose is capped at £5,000 for an individual and £10,000 in other cases, and the costs of the Defendant and Interested Party are likewise capped at £35,000 each) should no longer apply.

    Sir Roger Gale MP, supported by Craig Mackinlay MP, is proposing to complain to the Lord Chancellor, seemingly on the basis that the Court of Appeal has dared to decide that there are valid legal questions to consider.

    A DCO facilitates the compulsory purchase of land. Ann Gloag acquired Manston Airport – and its debts – in 2013. When early attempts to persuade her to sell it on failed, an American company, RiverOak Investment Corp (ROIC) tried to push the local district council to affect a compulsory purchase. When that failed, ROIC applied for a DCO before handing over to the newly formed RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd (RSP).

    The statutory examination of RSP’s application ran from January 2019 to July 2019. It is true that many people had their say through this process, which concluded with the Examining Authority ultimately concluding that a DCO should not be granted because there was no need case for Manston Airport and there were various factors that weighed against the development, including climate change.

    The Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT) did not agree with this expert advice but failed to give proper reasons why, when granting the first DCO in July 2020. Following an application for judicial review of this decision, the DfT conceded that the decision was unlawful and the DCO was quashed in February 2021. It is worth noting that, had RSP thought the Secretary of State’s decision was defensible, they could have continued to defend the decision in the High Court. They chose not to do so.

    A second DCO was granted in August 2022. This time, the decision not only went against the recommendations of the Government’s own Planning Inspectors, but also against the opinion of the Independent Aviation Expert appointed by the Secretary of State.

    To find support for the case for expansion where no independent advisors thought it existed, the Government relied on outdated and untested evidence collected by RSP’s expert and on a report submitted at the eleventh hour and not open to public comment.

    So, while most of the evidence relating to this development has been subject to intense scrutiny, and on the basis of that evidence, the experts and government advisors concluded it should not go ahead, the Government clung to two pieces of evidence that were not opened to proper public scrutiny to get round this unwelcome advice. To put it another way, the essence of this case is that people have not had “their fair go”.

    In these circumstances, it is hard to see how anyone can object to proper legal scrutiny through the courts, including the Court of Appeal. Especially given that the same processes are also available to the Defendant and to the Interested Party.

    Opposition to the Secretary of State’s decisions has been funded by hundreds of people, some of whom could only afford to give £5 while a few have been able to contribute several thousand pounds. The one thing they all have in common is that they do not believe Manston Airport counts as “critical infrastructure”, nor that RSP’s proposals amount to “a significant investment in the National Interest”. Our opponents have deep pockets; the DfT is funded by the public purse while RSP is funded by anonymous “investors”.

    Removing Aarhus costs protection would effectively amount to pricing individuals out the justice system. To do so would prevent a legitimate challenge being raised in the courts about an infrastructure project that is not supported by the Government’s own expert advisors. Such an argument would prevent access to justice, precisely what Aarhus was set up to avoid.

    • Oh, I see my message has been edited. Why is that the case when racist and xenophobic comments are allowed every day on this site? Its sickening.

      Is nobody worried about the provenance of (allegedly existing as theres no way to corroborate they exist) funds for the cargo business?

      • It was edited as we cannot accuse people of the links you were suggesting without some evidence. Racist and xenophobic comments are not ‘allowed’ and deleted/pruned when I see them. Perhaps people commenting could try some restraint so as not to veer into the libellous or phobic areas

    • Steve,
      the airfield remains in place and aircraft constantly use it so it surely remains as an active airfield?

  26. I agree that it would be a shame to lose airport infrastructure, however RSP’s plans are bonkers. They also have zero regard for the affect their plans would have on Ramsgate. The Government’s OWN consultants decided there was no need, reflecting the opinion of the planning inspectorate. How and more importantly WHY expert opinion was ignored in favour of an offshore entity. The tangled corporate Web around Manston is also somewhat troubling.

  27. This dco has been running for a while now its quite unique, its becoming interesting to outsiders.
    The crow funding element needs to be supported.
    Great for documentary/Netflix producers to document what has been going on. Ok i have made progress with a docu maker and i will get a fee !(terms&conditions apply) .Ha Ha
    Really i am just interested with an explanation on progress and exposing all the people involved. They have made themselves public figures and the public needs to know all.

    Personally i cant be bothered with what has already been decided, those 41+ year old jumbo jets currently stored in a desert have a future.
    The Dr told me…

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