Judge backs Manston Airport airfreight hub plans

Image source: Manston Airport

Plans to develop a cargo hub at Manston Airport in the UK have been given a boost following the dismissal of the latest attempt to block the development.

A High Court judge last week dismissed campaigners’ attempts to overturn a Development Consent Order (DCO) that the government granted in August 2022.

The news was welcomed by Logistics UK’s policy advisor Ellis Shelton: “Reviving Manston Airport for the transportation of freight is critical for supporting the UK economy as it will maximise international imports and exports and create further trade opportunities across the globe.

“Logistics UK therefore supports today’s announcement upholding the DCO for Manston Airport, providing the potential economic benefits are delivered and carbon net zero targets are reached.”

Airport developer RiverOak Strategic Partners said: “This is a highly significant and positive development towards our aim of turning Manston into a state of-the-art airfreight hub underway and working to support the long-term economic development of East Kent.”

The developers were initially granted a DCO back in 2020 but following the announcement of a judicial review, the Department for Transport withdrew in order to gather more information and re-apply for the second DCO that it was granted in August last year.

Local resident Jenny Dawes has led the campaign against the airport and said she would appeal last week’s decision.

“Having already succeeded once in a judicial review against the Secretary of State’s first decision to approve Manston Airport, we always knew it would be more difficult to succeed a second time round,” she said.

“That is not because the economic case for Manston Airport has improved or because the climate change concerns have been resolved – quite the opposite in fact – but because the government was more careful the second time round to immunise its decision from judicial review. So far, that approach has worked.

“However, I remain 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.”

The £500m plans for the airport included 19 stands capable of handling widebody freighters as well as a 65,500 sq m cargo facility.

Originally an RAF base, Manston Airport has been used periodically for charter and passenger flights, but its runway did not support large aircraft and the airport has historically suffered from underuse in the face of competition from other UK airports.

Its runway is one of the widest in the UK, measuring 2,748 m in length and 230 m in width.

Manston Airport cargo plans back in court


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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector. After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015. Contact me on [email protected]