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Herne Bay fears over RiverOak plans for Manston airport

By Dan Wright

There are fears the reintroduction of flights at Manston airport could lead to sleepless nights for residents living under the flightpath in Herne Bay.

Bosses at American company RiverOak want to reopen the airport – which closed in 2014 – to run freight operations from the site.

They have invited people to a public consultation at the King’s Hall on Monday to detail their scheme, but have already come under fire from concerned residents.

The Manston airport site

The Manston airport site

Retired IT technician Phil Rose, from Beltinge, thinks it could lead to up to 18 disruptive flights a night if the plans get the go-ahead.

He said: “This is only something that emerged way down on a report that RiverOak produced for the Planning Inspectorate.

“My concern is that this is exactly the sort of thing that should be highlighted to the people of Herne Bay because we are in a position where we would get the planes flying straight over the middle of the town.

Phil Rose

Phil Rose

“The flightpath goes right across Herne Bay – the pilots used to line up Hampton Pier and the water tower to navigate straight to Manston.

“It would be like living under an airport.”

Leaders at RiverOak, which Thanet council rejected as a potential indemnity partner to take control of the airfield, has submitted a 216-page scoping report to the Planning Inspectorate as part of its proposals to take control of the airport land using a development consent order (DCO).

“The flightpath goes right across Herne Bay – the pilots used to line up Hampton Pier and the water tower to navigate straight to Manston..." - Phil Rose

It predicts the airport could handle between 500,000 and 600,000 tonnes of air freight by 2035, equating to 10,000 to 20,000 air traffic movements a year.

The DCO process is reserved for nationally significant infrastructure projects and gives applicants the right to take control of sites using compulsory purchase orders where necessary.

There will be six informal public exhibitions of RiverOak’s takeover plans, including one in Herne Bay on Monday.

But Mr Rose, 54, added: “Because we rely on tourism and we have more and more tourists coming in to the town, heavy plane traffic screws people’s experience.

“It only takes a few bad reviews on TripAdvisor and then we are dead in the water.

“This is something people need to know about.”

A statement in RiverOak’s report read: “It is the view of RiverOak that a revived and successful Manston airport operating as an airfreight hub, with complimentary engineering services, can provide nationally significant airport infrastructure that will support the UK government in its stated aim of finding increased aviation capacity in the south east.”

The public consultation will be held on Monday, July 18, at the King’s Hall from 2pm to 8pm.

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