Published: 18:00, 14 August 2020
| Updated: 19:31, 14 August 2020
A pre-action letter demanding the government's decision to reopen Manston Airport be overturned has been rejected by the Secretary of State for Transport.
Campaigner Jenny Dawes, who has launched a bid to stop the former airfield near Ramsgate becoming a freight cargo air hub, sent the letter to MP Grant Shapps, but he has refused to reverse the approval.
She says in light of this, she is now preparing for a legal battle, with her team - solicitors Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant - getting ready to submit an application next week for a judicial review.
If the review is granted, the decision by Mr Shapps to approve a development consent order to open Manston as a cargo hub will be challenged in court.
She says the pre-action letter setting out the draft grounds for judicial review was sent to the Secretary of State, who had 14 days to respond.
"The next step is to issue the claim at court and apply for permission to bring proceedings," she said.
"This will be served on the Secretary of State as the Defendant and the developer as an Interested Party. All this must be done by August 20."
Ms Dawes launched her bid in July after the DCO was approved, allowing owner of Manston, RiverOak Strategic Partnership (RSP), to reopen the airport.
RSP boss Tony Freudmann says the relaunch will pave the way for hundreds of jobs to be created and give a £300 million boost to the area.
He hopes to open in April 2023, handling at least 10,000 air cargo movements per year and with passenger flights starting about two years later.
The plan is hugely divisive, with many concerned about the environmental impacts and noise disturbance to towns and villages in east Kent.
Others, however, believe it will be a much-needed shot in the arm for the local economy and bring the disused airfield back into use for flights.
But Ms Dawes says Thanet’s coastline and a number of towns and villages are facing disaster if it reopens, warning it will cause irreparable harm to the people, the natural environment and the economy of east Kent.
“Residents in the seaside towns of Ramsgate and Herne Bay, and in surrounding villages, will be living under low-flying, heavy-duty, highly-polluting aircraft,” she said.
“Some will be a mere 500ft below the flight path.
“It will ruin our health and wellbeing, as well as blighting the tourist industry on which so many depend.
“This will not only be a disaster for local people and our towns and villages, but also for the climate change obligations of the UK.”
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