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Green light to re-open Manston Airport


13 July 2020

Transport minister Andrew Stephenson has granted development consent for Manston Airport, near Ramsgate in Kent, to reopen as a freight airport. 

RiverOak Strategic Partners submitted a Development Consent Order application to reopen the airport in July 2018.

The planning inspectors  recommended refusing consent, concluding that the airport would handle only modest volumes of cargo that would be catered for at existing airports. River Oak had failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the development, they said. 

On climate change, they said that, “given the direction of emerging policy, the development’s contribution of 730.1 KtCO2 per annum, ie 1.9 per cent of the total UK aviation carbon target of 37.5 MtCO2 for 2050, from aviation emissions will have a material impact on the ability of Government to meet its carbon reduction targets, including carbon budgets.” They concluded that this “weighs against the granting of development consent”.

Stephenson said, however, that there was a “clear case of need”, which existing airports would not bring about “to the same extent or at all”. 

The development would also bring “significant economic and socio-economic benefits” to Thanet and East Kent. It offered the potential to “grow into a transport asset for the UK, which would provide a number of significant benefits locally, regionally and nationally”.

Stephenson said he was “content that climate change is a matter that should be afforded moderate weight against the development in the planning balance”. 

Stephenson was acting on behalf of transport secretary Grant Shapps who had a conflict of interest, having previously spoken in support of the application before he became transport secretary.

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