RSP at Parliamentary Briefing

rsp parliamentary briefing

From RSP:

Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Trade and Investment amongst MPs briefed by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) yesterday on their plans for Manston Airport.

Also in attendance at the briefing, which was hosted by Sir Roger Gale MP, was the member for Canterbury and Whitstable – Sir Julian Brazier MP, together with Robert Flello MP – Member of the Transport Select Committee and Sir Gerald Howarth – President of the All Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation. Also in attendance were Richard Dilks of London First, Heidi Skinner of the Freight Transport Association and Henk van Klaveren of the Airport Operators Association.

George Yerrall, director of RSP said: “Every year the UK economy loses more than £2 billion due to air cargo capacity constraints in the south east airports system. This is set to rise to £3.9 billion by 2050, even with a third runway at Heathrow. Manston can provide the answer and this was a valuable opportunity to brief Ms Ellman, Mr Clifton Brown and the others MPs that attended on why we are confident that, with RSP’s strategy and commitment, and the long term support of our investors, Manston has a promising future as a vibrant hub for international airfreight – one which delivers much needed runway capacity in the south east, boosts economic prosperity and employment across Kent and protects a strategic aviation resource for the nation.”

This article can also be found on the RSP website.

SMAa Responds to Lie-Filled Circular

smaa header

Today we became aware that Herne Bay based group ‘No Night Flights’ have arranged for a lie-filled circular to be passed through the doors of houses near Manston Airport.

This document has been seen by SMAa, and it is based upon lies and hearsay.

SMAa have produced a detailed rebuttal to the points in this document, and this can be seen here and as summarised below.

NNF ClaimThe Truth
The Council must identity enough housing to
satisfy the Government. If not the Government
won't approve our Local Plan and developers
will be free to build wherever they like.
Local Authorities decide the levels appropriate
to their areas. The current local plan remains in
force until replaced. Each planning application is
decided on its own merits with or without a
local plan in force.
12,000 to 20,000 flights plannedThe DCO is for 10,000 movements = 5,000
flights. 5000 divided by 360 (allow for 5 days
holidays etc) equals 14 flights per day. With
airport open for business between 0600 and
2300 this equates to less than one aircraft per
Almost half of air freight is shifted at nightRSP are not applying for a license for scheduled
night flights as these are not needed. Airport
staff are human and do also prefer to sleep at
nights. Frankfurt does not permit night flights
(only operating between 0500 and 2300) yet
still handled more than 2 million tonnes of
cargo in 2015.
Nearly all night cargo movements are
integrated, night parcels/ mail. They are
scheduled, short haul and very , very light
weights, operated by modern, quiet aeroplanes,
a lot smaller than we have previously been used
to at Manston. At the moment Manston is not
planned to be a part of these hub and spoke
night services.
The Council proposes that 2500 homes should
go on the old Manston airport site as part of a
mixed use development.
The Council proposes no such thing. SHP have
submitted an application for outline planning
permission for such a development.
The Council has commissioned two independent
expert reports. Both say that a profitable
airport cannot be developed on that site
Neither report says any such thing.

The original Falcon Report in 2015 was only an
initial evaluation, with a limited amount of time
allowed in which to gather evidence. It did
conclude that a profitable airport on the site
would need substantial investment; not the
same thing at all as saying that an airport cannot
be profitable.

The Avia Report of 2016 was prefaced with the
caveat that it should not be should not be used
or taken as business, financial, tax, accounting,
legal or other advice.

● The work was again completed in an
unnecessarily short space of time,
having been subcontracted to an
independent consultant.
● The report made no mention of possible
links with the Port of Dover (historically
a lucrative business), and completely
ignored the impact of Brexit.
● No mention was made of either the
impact of the Paramount or Ebbsfleet
Garden City developments.
● Data used was largely out of date.
● Conclusions were based on the premise
that the third runway at Heathrow and
or second runway at Gatwick would be
open by 2025. The Transport Secretary
has told Parliament that the legal and
planning parts of this project will take at
least 10 years (until at least 2026) and
that will be followed by a period of
construction that has not been
quantified but could be as much as ten
further years.
The only way an airport could be developed at
Manston is if an American company persuades
the Government that it should be given the land
1. RiverOak Strategic Planning (RSP) is a UK
registered company. It is RSP that is
pursuing the DCO and it will be RSP that
is involved with its operation
2. The Government does not give RSP the
land. It may agree that the proposal is a
National Strategically Important Site
(NSIP) in which case the Secretary of
State will initiate a Compulsory
Purchase Order. RSP will in effect be
Indemnity Partners here, the DCO
process includes verification that they can provide the necessary funding,
If you don’t want a noisy dirty airport with 14 to
23 flights a night
Modern aircraft are neither noisy nor dirty.
Such aircraft are prohibited within the EU and
Brexit is unlikely to change this.
There will not be 14 to 23 flights a night; RSP
have said that they will not be applying for a
night flying licence and their business plan
shows that such flights are not necessary.
If 2500 houses do not go on the airport site then
new sites will have to be found for them
elsewhere in Thanet
As pointed out above, the draft Local Plan
housing allocation is not cast in stone. Using
ONS figures the new housing requirement has
been recalculated at 11,000 not 17,000, and
presently identified brownfield sites are more
than sufficient for this demand.

The original leaflet appears to have been issued by the No Night Flights group, based in Herne Bay.  One of their leading members is Ms Ros Mcintyre. It is worth remembering that on 2nd February 2015, she told the Transport Select Committee that “noise levels in excess of 1,000 decibels are recorded on Ramsgate premises.”  1000dB is probably louder than the original Big Bang that started the universe – how much reliance can you put on a leaflet produced by people who will tell a Parliamentary committee such nonsense?


Time is running out!


local plan header time is running out

Time is running out!

As we speak, Thanet District Council has an open consultation on a proposed Local Plan which seeks to remove the aviation protection on Manston Airport.  In the same breath, the Plan proposed the building of at least 2,500 houses on our Airport site.

Don’t rest on your laurels.

In order to overturn this plan, and keep our aviation protection, we need to submit good quality and well-reasoned personal objections to the proposals.  Whilst having thousands of objections doesn’t necessarily mean TDC will immediately abandon their proposals, they must read and take into account each individual submission.  This is a brilliant way to let TDC gauge public feeling toward Manston Airport.

Get involved.  We have produced guidance on how to object, as well as a link to the consultation website here.

Please don’t think that someone else will object for you.  If you want it, you need to fight for it!

Annual General Meeting 2017

tony freudmann at agm

Today’s Annual General Meeting of the Save Manston Airport association was a resounding success, attended by well over 100 supporters.

Manston is Coming Back!

By Bryan Girdler (edited for clarity):

Riveroak believe KLM will return.  They are also talking to Ryanair who they believe will also come to Manston if they can create the right upgraded terminal.

Riveroak are aiming to submit the Development Consent Order by end of July for a £300M Manston Airport.

Speaking today at a meeting of the Save Manston Airport association, Riveroak said: “We are there on Manston, ‘as long as it takes'”.  Working on the detail for instance of how to move earth around to build a hugely upgraded Manston, with many more aprons to turn around planes fast, new buildings for freight forwarders, with many new office jobs. They are aiming for 1 plane an hour, every plane brings money into Thanet, money brings jobs.

New directors have joined RiverOak bringing with them access to significant new funding.  Environmental studies underway this week will create a PEIR – Preliminary Environmental Impact Report which will detail, flights, drainage, truck movements etc for the next 20 years.

Lack of London freight slots is causing freight to go via Tunnel to Frankfurt and Amsterdam – this can switch to Manston. Freight is full in the UK, except Stansted which wants to use it’s room to it’s limit to increase passengers not cargo.

RiverOak spoke on the plans to build housing and about the planning application for change of use by the current owners, this has been referred to a public enquiry (in March).  This will be run by the Planning Inspectorate which have just authorised the section 53 order to allow RiverOak to start work on Manston.

RiverOak explained that the DCO gives them the right to object to the planning application and they will defend Manston Airport at the public inquiry.  They spoke on night flights and they confirm they do not need night flights to make their plan work and they do not plan to have night flights.

Sir Roger Gale spoke after RiverOak and he said the fact that the minister for local government was able to grant RiverOak access to Manston is very important indeed, the Government recognises this is a project of national importance.  It’s not about Kent, or local employment, though those are important, it’s now important for the whole country.

We Support Team Kent!

sir roger gale header

Please use our numbers to help strengthen the case that We Support Team Kent!

Gale’s View – 25th January 2017

A clutch of Kent’s Members of Parliament met, at the end of last week, with an assembly of the County’s business and political leaders. Faced with the challenge of ‘ The Northern powerhouse’ and ‘ The Midlands engine’ ‘ Team Kent’ as we are now known gathered together to determine how we might best put this corner of the South East back not just on the map but at the top of the political agenda.

There is a popular belief in Whitehall that ‘ The South’ is prosperous and can be left to its’ own devices while ‘ The North’ , which means everything above the Tropic of Watford, is poverty- stricken and needs all of the pit- props of Government to prevent it from collapsing.

In fact, as our gathering demonstrated and determined very clearly, if the Nation is to prosper then Kent, as the gateway to the United Kingdom, needs considerable investment in infrastructure. Not just the County but the country will benefit from a Lower Thames crossing and the sooner that that is recognised and built the better. In tandem with that the road system around the Medway towns, as Kelly Tolhurst reminded us, will have to be addressed if we are not to simply move one gridlock from A to B and exacerbate it with the traffic that will be generated by the City of Ebbsfleet. Downstream, or upstream, depending upon whether you are arriving from or travelling to mainland Europe, Brenley Corner and the arterial cart track between Lydden and the Port of Dover have to be sorted together with the construction of the Operation Stack relief lorry park off the M20 for which money has been allocated but has, for the moment, stalked. There is also the small matter of the need to create other, smaller, parking spaces to obviate the need for freight vehicles to clog up the lay- bys on the A 2 with overnighting truck- drivers and their attendant personal needs.

Inner Kent would like to have its rail services taken over by Transport for London while Outer Kent recognises that this would be at the expense of long- haul commuter services carrying passengers to work from East and South Kent but all are agreed that we need vastly improved rail services if the County is going to, whether we like it or not, accommodate still more people over -spilling from London. Those improvements, of course, include the construction of Manston Parkway station and the creation of a sub- one hour journey time from London to East Kent.

Air freight grew by 6.8% last year. If the UK is going to be able to create new markets post- Brexit outside Europe then goods inward and outbound are going to have to travel a great deal further and largely by air. Without Manston Airport Britain, and particularly the South East, will be unable to handle the traffic. It will be fifteen years at least before there are aircraft wheels on new Tarmac at Heathrow or Gatwick. That is why the Government, in a recent decision to allow RiverOak access to Manston to conduct a necessary Environmental Impact Study, has recognised the strategic importance of Manston. That is also is why it is high time that Thanet Council and Kent County Council’s Leader, Paul Carter, woke up to reality, stopped chasing pie- in-the Sky alternative development plans and, in the national interest, threw their weight behind the application for the Development Consent Order and helped to facilitate the re- opening of Manston Airport. What passes for ” Leadership” in Thanet and at KCC needs to get in step with public opinion and the needs of UK Limited.

That said, this was a useful first meeting of “Team Kent”. If we pull together to press the case for the road, rail, air and sea port infrastructure then we shall be on a level playing field with the Midlands and the North. If we fail to do so then the County will be left behind in the new order that faces us all.

Sign the petition

You can get involved by signing the petition:

Sir Roger Bangs the Drum for Manston

sir roger gale header

The campaign to save Manston Airport rolled into the House of Commons this week following the launch of an all-party group for general aviation.

Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale renewed his vow to fight to see Manston re-opened and aircraft once again landing and taking off at the historic airfield, describing it as an “act of corporate vandalism” on the same week that Thanet District Council opens its consultation into amendments to its local plan, where it proposes the site will be turned over for mixed-use, rather than just aviation.

A report by consultants Avia Solutions last year concluded that airport operations at Manston were “very unlikely to be financially viable”.

Sir Roger was joined at the launch by television personality Carol Vorderman, who owns and flies her own light aircraft and has previously done so from Manston.

At the meeting, the former Countdown star stressed the importance of the contribution made by the Air Cadets, for whom she is an ambassador, to the training of tomorrow’s young pilots and engineers and of the country’s airfields to the future of jobs and prosperity both now and post-Brexit.

Sir Roger himself paid tribute to the late Ted Girdler, the former Red Arrows pilot and founder of TG Aviation, and for his family’s work in running a flying club and promoting general aviation.

He also called upon the group to press for legislation to protect airfields from changes in planning use, saying that “once these national assets are gone they are lost forever”.

The group has been formed under the chairmanship of the MP Byron Davies to promote the interests of general aviation and to protect further airfields from closure and re-development as “brownfield sites”. Mr Davies said: “General aviation is worth over £3 billion to the UK annually, provides unrivalled training to our pilots and supports a huge industry of enthusiastic aviators.

“Aviation has a long and proud tradition in the UK and supports thousands of jobs in constituencies across the country yet it faces a crisis that must be averted.

“Together with [former party chairman, aviation minister and private pilot] Grant Shapps, we seek to change the current situation by supporting the industry as strongly as possible and to seek to influence government policy.”

From Kent News (

S53 Documents published by PINS

riveroak featured header

The Planning Inspectorate have today made public the s53 documents granting RiverOak access to the Manston Airport site for vital surveys, in order that they can make their full application later this year.

These documents can be found below.

Authorisation Annex 2 Plan Identifying the Land

Authorisation Annex 4 Schedule of Surveys

Section 53 Statement of Reasons

S53 Authorisation


Of note are the reasons that Stone Hill Park gave for refusing RiverOak access to the site, which include:

  • Prematurity of the original s.53 application
  • Challenging that entry should not be permitted as RiverOak’s project has not yet been designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP)
  • Asking whether RiverOak’s project is of real substance
  • Challenging whether or not RiverOak genuinely require access to the land.

The Secretary of State did not consider that any of these arguments provided grounds to refuse RiverOak access to Manston Airport.

RiverOak continues to be completely transparent in their procedures, as it will do so throughout the Development Consent Order process.

Further details of the DCO can be found on the PINS website.

Why did Manston Airport close?

manston airport aerial

Nearly three years after Manston Airport closed, campaigners believe its future could be decided within the next twelve months.  This handy guide will help inform you what has happened so far and what we hope will happen next.

Why was Manston Airport closed?

klm cityhopper at manston airport

The airport was bought from previous owners Infratil by Stagecoach tycoon Ann Gloag in November 2013 for £1.  Infratil said it was being sold for a “cash consideration of £1, plus an adjustment for working capital variances and cash injected by Infratil”.  This was expected to be around £350,000 in real terms.

Ms Gloag said: “I am delighted to have purchased Manston Airport from Infratil as I believe there is real potential for growth that has not been fully captured.”

However, in March 2014, a 45-day consultation on the “orderly closure” of Manston Airport was announced.  The airport officially ceased operations on 15th May 2014, with the loss of around 144 jobs.

Both KLM and Newmarket Holidays pulled out of Manston following the news of the planned closure.

It was reported that the airport was “losing £10,000 a day”.

What happened next?

number 10 downing street

RiverOak tried to purchase the site, with an offer of the full asking price made on the day of its closure.  This was later discovered to be £7m.  The same day, former Eastenders actor Cliff Parisi was involved in an emergency landing at Manston.  He stated that had the airport not been open, he would have “ended up in the drink”.

The Save Manston Airport association was formed in its first guise, in order to protest the closure.

A petition with about 7,700 signatures was handed to Thanet District Council (TDC) in June 2016.  It asked the council to compulsorily purchase (CPO) the airport and return it to aviation use.  The TDC administration of the time held full support for the airport’s return.

An additional petition was handed in to 10 Downing Street in July 2014 with at least 26,000 signatures.

The TDC administration changed, and two attempts were made to find indemnity partners for a potential CPO on the site.  RiverOak responded on both occasions, but were not successful.  There were also other interested parties who submitted valid applications.

What about housing?

Plans for housing on the site were mooted ever since the 45-day consultation started, with a representative from Quinn Estates stating in local media that the site would be best used for houses.  Quinn Estates stated in a document that they had secured one third of the site for housing.  This was later found to be untrue.

The airport was “sold” in September 2014 to developers who stated that they were “not airport people”.  They renamed the shelf company Stone Hill Park Ltd (SHP) and set to work planning a “mixed-use development” which included a large portion of housing.

A planning application for change of use of buildings was submitted in 2015, which was rejected by the Council, as the airport was protected for aviation use in the draft Local Plan.  This has gone to appeal and is due to be heard in a public inquiry in 2017.  TDC backed down on their rejection of the application, meaning that RiverOak are the only party fighting against the application.

An outline planning application was also submitted for the overall “mixed-use development”, which is being considered by TDC.

What about RiverOak?

riveroak in westminster

RiverOak are the only company that have stuck with Manston Airport throughout.  Their attempts to purchase the site and their co-operation with TDC shows that they are dedicated to the airport and genuinely feel that aviation there can be profitable.

They are now going through the process of applying for a Development Consent Order (DCO).  This is like a CPO, but taken out of the control of the local authority and undertaken instead by the Planning Inspectorate.  It is used for large projects, with examples including London Paramount and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.  They are normally backed with funding from private companies.

RiverOak have held a number of non-statutory consultation events to gauge local opinion, but before they can make their full application, they will complete statutory consultation events in affected areas (and further afield).  They have also now been granted access to Manston Airport through statute, meaning they can access the site to conduct surveys and testing as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

What happens next?

Thanet District Council’s new draft People Plan will go to the public for consultation in January, and their proposal is to remove the protection for aviation at Manston from the Plan, as well as recommending a development of at least 2,500 houses on the site.

We urge you, wherever you live, to engage in this consultation, and state that you do not agree with the proposed Local Plan.  State that Manston Airport must remain protected for aviation use only.  State that you disagree with any proposals for housing or mixed-use development of the Manston Airport site.

Details of how to engage will be shared soon – watch this site.

Thankfully, SHP’s proposal for the site to be used as a lorry park during Operation Stack has protected the site from any development until at least December 2017.  Statute requires them to return the airport to its original state, which includes removing the painted parking spaces on the runway.  Unfortunately, SHP have been paid at least £3.5m of taxpayers’ money to do this.

When could aviation return to Manston?

riveroak manston plan

As campaigners, we are under no illusions – we know it will take time.  The biggest deciding factor is how long the Development Consent Order will take.

In addition, RiverOak will need to purchase a lot of expensive equipment, including runway lighting, RADAR and SMR systems and vehicles, most of which were auctioned off by Peaker Pattison in 2014.  Whilst this means that Manston Airport would be better equipped, these items take time to procure and install.

If you’re planning on flying from Manston yourself, you may have to wait a little longer.  RiverOak’s plans for Manston are based around a cargo freight hub initially.  But they have said they will expand into general aviation and passenger services on the back of successful freight operations.

Meeting: Manston’s aviation future

russ timpson

Manston airport campaigners plan to prove that the site has a viable aviation future at a public meeting next month.

Thanet Liberal Democrats have organised the event for February 4 at Margate’s Winter Gardens from 10am until 2pm.

Lib Dem member Russ Timpson says there are various “ambitious activities” that could take place at the former airfield and is keen to discuss the options while the consultation period for Thanet’s draft local plan is running.

The local plan – a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure up to 2031 – suggests designating Manston airport for mixed use development – ending a caveat for aviation only.

A report to council Cabinet members last month said: “The site has the capacity to deliver at least 2,500 new dwellings, and up to 85,000sqm employment and leisure floorspace.”

An application for mixed use development of the site has been submitted by current owners Stone Hill Park. The proposal includes a business park focused on advanced manufacturing – including digital and emerging energy firms – up to 2,500 new homes, plus national sports and leisure facilities with about one-third of the site reserved for parkland and open space.

American firm RiverOak has alternative plans to retain aviation – including cargo business – and is in the process of submitting a Development Consent Order to the Government.

The homes would be part of 17,140 needed by 2031, although some 1555 dwellings have already been delivered.

Mr Timpson is hoping to persuade the public, and the council, the remove the mixed use plan for the site and concentrate on the aviation possibilities.

He said: “This technical meeting, supported by groups fighting to save the airport, will take place in the Winter Gardens (Queens Hall) Margate, from 10 am till 2 pm on Saturday 4 February 2017. It will be a platform for relevant subject experts to explain how Manston Aviation Hub could generate a viable business and revenue streams for Manston from cargo handling, aircraft recycling, pilot training and private flying, and a spaceport.

“Overall it will amount to a clear statement of the case for accepting that Manston can be a sustainable, viable aviation services hub, bringing employment and innovation to Thanet for many years, and making full use of a valuable existing asset.

The meeting has been organised by Thanet Liberal Democrats – but is in no way a political platform and there will not be any political speeches.”

Anyone who would like to attend can book a free ticket here.

Article taken from Kent Live (

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