aeroplane flying over storage containers
aeroplane flying over storage containers

The High Court’s decision to quash the government’s Development Consent Order (DCO) to reopen Manston Airport, in Kent, as a freight hub is the first and only time a government DCO has been quashed by the courts. The Secretary of State for Transport’s admission that he had failed to show a “need” for the freight hub that could not be fulfilled by more established airports is significant.

The ruling fully justifies Ramsgate Town Council’s decision to support a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State’s decision, initiated by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes. The award of costs by the court amounting to £35K each from the Department for Transport and the applicant, Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP), will offset some of Ms Dawes’ costs and contribute towards any future Judicial Review, should one be required.

South Thanet Labour Party has campaigned at all levels against the freight hub, on the basis that it would cause environmental and economic harm across the area, especially in Ramsgate and Herne Bay. The party has supported mixed-use development of the site for employment and leisure with housing, to meet Thanet’s housing needs. The Ramsgate branch of the Labour Party will remain vigilant in monitoring what happens next to ensure that an air freight hub is fully rejected.

We thank those many campaigners, 2000 in all, across political parties, who responded to the Planning Inspectorate and contributed to the fundraiser.

The court’s decision says nothing about the other two grounds of Ms Dawes’ Judicial Review – namely the failings in RSP’s case for a DCO and the likely impact of the freight hub on the Government’s promise to reach net zero carbon by 2050.

The Secretary of State has up to three months to consult again and to remake his decision. South Thanet Labour Party hopes he will decide quickly to support his planning experts and to reject the DCO. Such a decision would end the local blight and show support for existing airports suffering economic damage due to COVID-19 and climate change. It would also create the opportunity for green jobs and leisure at the Manston site, and housing for locals on brown field rather than farming land.

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