Gale’s View – 8th Feb 2017

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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

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!

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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.

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