RSP hopeful work can begin on Manston airfreight hub following latest ruling

Manston Terminal plans

The owners of Manston Airport in the UK say work can soon start on its new airfreight hub following the latest court ruling.

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an application from a local resident to appeal against the granting of the Development Consent Order (DCO) required for the plans.

The battle over the future of the airport site has been dragging on for seven years but airport owner RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) is hopeful work can now get underway.

“This means that the DCO remains granted, as announced by the Department for Transport in August 2022, and work can now begin to transform Manston and recruit staff both for the construction phase and for operational roles once the airport is ready to reopen,” said RSP.

It is anticipated that detailed planning, construction, recruitment and the completion of the airspace change project will now take three years in total to complete – with the airport ready to receive flights in 2027.

RSP director Tony Freudmann said: “We have always remained confident in our proposals and unshaken in our belief that we can create something very special at Manston which delivers both important capacity for UK air freight – and a sustainable economic boost for east Kent.

“Although the past seven years have been intensely frustrating at times, the fact that we have gone all the way to the Court of Appeal means no stone has been left unturned in the examination of our proposals.

“We can now deliver our plans knowing with certainty that we have demonstrated, beyond question, that Manston has a vital role to play in addressing the airspace capacity issues blighting London and Southeast – and that this historic and strategically important airport can reinvent itself once again to meet the nation’s needs in the global marketplace.”

Local resident Jenny Dawes who led the appeal said: “”We always knew it would be difficult. We may not have succeeded in quashing the second Manston Airport DCO but, importantly, this decision has clarified the rules and ensured a modicum of fairness for future campaigners where the Secretary of State relies on new evidence that has not been consulted on when redetermining a DCO application.”

She added: “Nothing in the decision confirms that Manston Airport is viable. The economic case for Manston Airport has not improved nor have the climate change concerns have been resolved. 

“I remain firmly of the view that the government’s decision to proceed with Manston Airport, in the face of all the expert evidence to the contrary and the worsening climate change crisis, is nonsensical.” 

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’s runway measures 2,748 m in length and an official listed width of 61 m, although it is actually much wider.

Before its closure in 2014, the airport hosted Boeing 747 freighter flights from Cargolux and Saudia Cargo.

Judge backs Manston Airport airfreight hub plans

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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]