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Manston Airport: May 18 decision day looms for RiverOak Strategic Partners' push to reopen Thanet airfield

A decision is expected to be made this week on the future of Manston Airport in Thanet.

A resolve to the long-running saga of whether the site will have an aviation future had been expected in January - but was delayed by four months.

RiverOak's Tony Freudman will be hoping his company gets the nod from government this week to reopen the airport
RiverOak's Tony Freudman will be hoping his company gets the nod from government this week to reopen the airport

The deadline for a decision is Monday, May 18 - a date the Department for Transport earlier this month confirmed was still on track, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Manston closed in 2014 and has subsequently become the centre of political and public debate ever since.

RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), the consortium behind the reopening of the airport, had applied for the airport to be considered as a nationally significant infrastructure project.

It had faced a challenge from the site's then-owners, developers behind what was dubbed Stone Hill Park. They wanted to build thousands of homes on the airfield.

But in a shock twist, last July it was confirmed Stone Hill Park was being sold to RSP in a deal worth £16.5million.

Decision day for Manston looms
Decision day for Manston looms

That appeared to pave the way for RSP to push ahead, unopposed, with its plans to reopen a cargo facility at the site near Ramsgate.

But it still requires the government to grant a development consent order to enable the airport plans to take off.

Planning officials have now spent months writing a report and recommendations which will then be handed to the Secretary of State for Transport for a final decision.

RSP has said how a revived Manston Airport could provide air freight operators with "a realistic alternative to the overcrowded London airports, ease the considerable road congestion caused by lorries carrying freight through the Channel Tunnel to European airports".

It remains unclear whether the recent collapse in commercial air flights will impact on the Manston plans.

Manston Airport has stood unused since it shut in 2014
Manston Airport has stood unused since it shut in 2014

RSP had said the delay from January had been "frustrating" but remained confident of success.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale has been a vocal campaigner for the site to reopen.

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