Gale’s View – 8th Feb 2017

The two meetings held at the weekend, at Margate Winter Gardens on Saturday and at the Manston Sports and Social Club on Sunday, should have sent a very clear message to the Leader of Thanet District Council (who attended for part of Saturday’s meeting), to those at present in control of Manston Airport and to what at present passes for “leadership” at County Hall.  Contrary to the suggestion made recently that Thanet’s second Draft Local Plan, which seeks to zone Manston for housing and industrial use, has “killed off hope” of re-opening Manston as a commercial airfield progress towards the necessary Development Consent Order is moving inexorably forward.

The decision by the Planning Inspectorate to dismiss the feeble objections raised on behalf of Messrs Cartner and Musgrave leading to a Ministerial decision to grant RiverOak access to the site to carry out the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) denote a recognition that the project to re-open Manston is, as I have consistently said, of National significance.

In tandem with the most thorough EIA ever undertaken in East Kent the company seeking to acquire Manston will, having identified every household with a potentially affected interest in the airfield, not only in Thanet but in Herne Bay, Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Dover write to them to seek observations.  There will then be a full round of on-the-record public consultations available to each location culminating in the formal submission of the full environmental and business case for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate.  There will then be a full public inquiry and a recommendation made, following consideration of all the evidence, by the Inspector to the Secretary of State for Transport who will take the final decision whether or not to grant the Development Consent Order.  This process will take time and will cost RiverOak a great deal of the money that Cllr. Wells, the present Leader of TDC, claims that the company does not have.  When national interest is at stake the effort and expenditure are worth it.

Last year air freight traffic grew by nearly seven per cent.  With Brexit and the need to compensate for the loss of European business by developing new markets in Asia and the Far East we are going to need much more freight, as well as passenger, capacity in the South East.  That capacity, without Manston Airport simply will not be available. The facility is going to be vital to service our Country’s immediate and future needs.

For the sake of UK limited, as well as for the prosperity of East Kent, I urge all of those in the area who support this cause to both write in objection to Thanet’s Local Plan proposals for the airport and to respond to a Kent County Council consultation on the proposed Thanet Parkway station from which County Hall has noticeably airbrushed out Manston Airport while concentrating on a ‘Stone Hill Park’ that does not exist on any map known to man.  It is the future of our children and our grandchildren that is at stake.

You can find our own guide and link to the Local Plan consultation process here