SMAa Analysis: RiverOak pre-Consultation Results

Save Manston Airport association Analysis

RiverOak release the results of their pre-Consultation with Thanet and Kent about Manston Airport.

RiverOak are working with the National Planners to prepare a Development Consent Order (DCO), so as to present a plan to raise Manston Airport to be an airport of national stature.

In July RiverOak held a (non-statutory) pre-consultation exercise with the people of Thanet and Kent to find their views about re-opening Manston Airport and developing it to be a Nationally Significant airport.

As well as holding six roadshow events, across Thanet and East Kent (Broadstairs, Margate, Herne Bay, Canterbury, Sandwich and Ramsgate), to enable local people to learn more about their preliminary proposals, RiverOak distributed, and their lawyers collected and analysed  booklets with questionnaires. “More than 800 responses were received by Bircham Dyson Bell, lawyers for RiverOak Investments, following the informal consultation events held in July. Of these, 332 were handed in during the six consultation events, 268 were emailed and a further 222 hard copies were posted.”

With a closing date of 5th September, all these documents have now been analysed by RiverOak’s DCO lawyers Bircham Dyson Bell, and a summary released on their web-site :

Kent and Thanet want Manston Airport back open

The most significant conclusion is that 90% of respondents approve of RiverOaks proposals, and want Manston Airport to re-open for aviation use.

Now this is completely in line with previous polls, district elections, local plan responses and TDC Council votes, that have been collated by Save Manston Airport association, where the figures have ranged from over 80% to over 90% in favour of Manston Airport reopening :

Evidence of mass support” – Letter to the Editor, Isle of Thanet Gazette, Friday May 20th, 2016. : ▼ Polling & Membership

However the number of respondents in this RiverOak pre-Consultation and the directness of these questions asked makes this pre-Consultation a far more definitive exercise.

Specific requests by the people of Kent and Thanet

The really important point of the exercise, however, was to go to the people of Kent and Thanet, so as to find out what they actually wanted with regard to Manston Airport, rather than just present them with a take-it or leave-it plan at the Autumn statutory DCO Consultation. A number of important conclusion are noted in this report, many on subjects raised by SMAa and their members, including :

  • Preservation and location of Manston RAF, Spitfire &Hurricane Museums.
  • Placement and orientation of new hangars so as to preserve views from RAF Manston and Spitfire & Hurricane Museums to the runway.
  • Discussions regarding number, orientation and timings of flights.
  • Importance and number of new jobs for local people as a result of Manston Airport opening.
  • Impact of Manston Airport on education, training, and apprenticeships.

RiverOak say :  “High on the wish list for Manston were the inclusion of passenger services, a flying school, viewing area and a requirement for employment at the airport to be drawn from the local community. Of concern, quite naturally, are environmental issues such as night flights (although only amongst 9% of respondents), noise (8%) and air pollution and the flight path, both raised by 2% of respondents.”

Main Conclusion

It is fascinating to hear the true voice of the people of Kent and Thanet, to hear what they really do want for Manston Airport. SMAa asked: are they asking for many thousands of new houses in addition to those required for Thanet by the Government? No, overwhelmingly they are asking for a working airport of national stature, with high grade jobs.

Dr. Beau Webber (Chairman)
Save Manston Airport association