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Manston Airport hole may be man-made, says director

A director of the company that owns Manston Airport said he believes it was wrong to describe the hole that has appeared in a runway there as a 'sinkhole'.

The Thanet airport has recently been used to house HGVs during the pre-Christmas chaos caused by the French shutting the border to vehicles from Britain due to Covid fears and at one point was accommodating nearly 4,000 vehicles.

Lorries at Manston Picture: UKNIP
Lorries at Manston Picture: UKNIP

But Tony Freudmann, from owners RiverOak Strategic Partners, visited the site this afternoon.

He said: "I'm not an expert, but speaking as a layperson, it looks to me that the hole is man-made.

"I think it has been dug out for some reason in the past and then been capped."

Mr Freudmann estimated the hole which first appeared on Boxing Day to be around 5ft by 4ft across and 10 to 12ft deep.

He said: "Contrary to some reports, it is not on the main runway of the airport, but is on an old taxi runway adjacent."

Tony Freudmann at Manston Airport
Tony Freudmann at Manston Airport

He said the chasm had now been very well fenced off and a lid placed over the hole.

The airport has been taken over by the Department for Transport for use as a lorry park during any potential post-Brexit chaos.

It is also today being used as both a Covid testing station and a border control checkpoint, for drivers to show they have the correct paperwork before proceeding to Dover or Folkestone.

Mr Freudman said the airport was currently very quiet.

He said: "There are no lorries left here from before Christmas and very few arriving for tests or checks.

"I'm told this is because firms stocked up well in advance and it is expected to remain quiet for the next few days at least."

A Department for Transport spokesman said the area taped off because of the hole was a very small part of the large site and would not affect operational capacity significantly.

The DfT has leased the site until the end of June and will be responsible for infilling the hole.

Mr Freudmann said: "I'm sure any restoration will be done in close collaboration with the Environment Agency because it is known there is a water aquifer under the runway nearby."

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