Gale’s View – 29th Mar 2017

sir roger gale header

Paul Francis, who writes for this newspaper, is a competent journalist bedevilled by a headline writer with an eye for sensationalism rather than fact!

A couple of weeks ago we were treated to the front page suggestion that ‘Development Plans Kill Off Airport Hope’. Last week we were told that ‘RiverOak has pulled out of Manston’. Neither, as anyone who actually attended the recent Planning Inspectorate hearings in Thanet Council Offices will know, is true.

Thanet’s Draft Local Plan is deeply flawed both in content and in process and will be subjected to rigorous public scrutiny and, I suspect, condemnation when it is considered by a planning inspector. The proposals put forward by Ms Gloag’s Lothian Shelf company are, as was exposed by the planning inquiry, lightweight and lacking in substance.

It is correct that two of RiverOak’s senior main Board Directors, Niall Lawlor and George Yerrall, have left the RiverOak Corporation of America. They have bought out that company’s interests (at a million bucks or so not bad for a company that Mr Wells would like us to believe has no money!) to establish RiverOak UK as a British enterprise with a Head Office in London and to devote their entire energies to the re- opening of Manston Airport. Hardly “pulling out of Manston”!

While this paper’s headline was landing on your doormats, RiverOak was hosting a breakfast briefing at the House of Commons, in the presence of those who intend to finance the acquisition and rebuilding of the airport via a Development Consent Order (DCO), for the Chairman and members of the Transport Select Committee and other MPs. This event detailed in terms the Company’s intentions and the timelines for the process that will lead to literal and economic take- off.

Contrast that approach, if you will, with TDC’s commissioning of a report to get the Council out of the election pledge made by Cllr Wells and the subsequent further ‘study’ allegedly being carried out by The Disruptive Finance company (with whom Craig Mackinlay and I spoke about a year ago) upon which Mr. Wells is now staking his County Council election hopes.

As I told the Planning Inspector recently we shall, post-Brexit, need every inch of airport capacity in the South East if we are to develop new markets in Asia and the Far East and to build the economic success that we seek as a nation. Trying to re- furnish an operational airport would have been a nightmare. With adequate funding, which is now readily available to RiverOak UK, we instead have the exciting prospect of creating, practically from scratch, a brand new, world class, state-of-the-art freight hub and subsequent passenger airport to serve the needs of UK Ltd, and to bring business lost to mainland Europe back to Britain. That surely, is a project that ought to have the full support of Government at every level.

One final comment. I am asked, occasionally, “what’s in it for you?” Apart from the satisfaction of securing the future of a national asset for my Country I have, indeed, made one – and only one- request of RiverOak. I have asked that the first aircraft to land again at Manston, alongside a plane representing Sue Girdler’s TG Aviation (in memory of the founder of the firm, her Father, Ted) shall be a Spitfire. This is a Battle of Britain that we have to win.

RiverOak Strategic Partners Limited is the new UK registered company pursuing the DCO.

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.

RSP provide evidence to enquiry

tony freudmann at agm

From RSP:

In evidence to the Lothian Shelf planning appeal Chris Cain, a director of Northpoint Aviation and the former Regional Airports Policy Manager for the Department of Transport, has highlighted how the passenger-focused business model, set out in the Avia Solutions report, fails to fully explore the huge potential that Manston presents to stem the £2 Billion lost to the UK economy each year due to cargo capacity constraints in the London airports system – a figure set to rise to £3.9 Billion by 2050, even with an additional runway at Heathrow.

Mr Cain’s evidence sought to illustrate how RSP’s proposals for Manston Airport will depart from the unsuccessful business models of previous owners of the airport, by placing an explicit emphasis on the need for diversified income streams, underpinned by a state-of-the-art cargo operation serving dedicated freighters importing and exporting a range of perishable, high-value and time-critical goods rather than rely principally on passenger services as in the past. Other activities will include aircraft servicing, teardown and recycling facilities, business and general aviation, pilot training and commercial acceptance flights providing a broader and therefore more robust base to drive the airport’s future revenues.

The evidence shows how RSP’s proposals are consistent with York Aviation’s Report for the Freight Transport Association and Transport for London in 2015 and the Department for Transport 2009 prediction of increasing cross-channel displacement of air cargo, bound for the UK, to airports in near Europe.

It also points to the lessons that can be learnt from other benchmark airports, which have already successfully developed the mixed-activity business model of the kind RSP is proposing to implement at Manston. These include Alliance Fort Worth in Texas, Hamilton Airport in Ontario, Bergamo in Italy, Liege in Belgium and Leipzig-Halle in Germany.

Said Mr Cain: “Avia’s report demonstrates a failure to grasp how strategically significant infrastructure assets such as Manston can play an important niche role within a congested system of airports such as those serving London and the South East. RSP’s carefully tailored proposals demonstrate that Manston can be successfully developed as a mixed-use airport, underpinned by a substantive and much-needed cargo operation, that will contribute materially to the local, regional and national economy.”

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