Published: 16:31, 29 August 2020
| Updated: 16:54, 29 August 2020
A campaign to fight plans to turn Manston Airport into an "unnecessary, noisy and polluting airport” is underway.
Extinction Rebellion Protestors gathered at 11am this morning on the Shuart Lane bridge, over the A299 Thanet Way in Birchington.
Campaigners decorated an overpass with banners in opposition to a scheme to transform the disused Manston Airport, near Ramsgate into a global freight hub.
It forms part of a day of concerted action by climate demonstrators across the UK.
The environmental activist group believes the scheme poses serious environmental and health risks and that communities across Kent are likely to be adversely affected by the flight paths proposed, including Deal and Whitstable .
Announcing the first wave of protests across the region today, Peter Batt, of XR Thanet said: "There are no jobs on a dead planet.
“There is no point going for economic growth if it means we won’t be alive to enjoy the benefits.
"Given the government and so many Kent councils have recognised the need to act by declaring a climate emergency, it is truly staggering that so many of our elected representatives have so abjectly failed to tell the truth and safeguard their communities’ long-term interests.
“Aviation is a significant and growing contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.
"We know from the science that these emissions are altering the chemical balance of the Earth’s atmosphere and leading us towards catastrophic global warming."
It comes after the government granted a Development Consent Order enabling the airport , owned by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), to reopen.
However, the planning inspectorate, which provides recommendations and advice on applications, had advised against the plans - but this was overruled by the Secretary of State in an approval letter which stated there was "a clear case of need for the development".
Mr Batt slammed the decision to proceed and added even if the scheme proves economically successful its benefits would not outweigh the social and environmental costs.
He said: “In the very unlikely event that the hub becomes successful, its success will create other economic, environmental and health costs which will more than offset its benefits - as the Planning Inspectorate made clear in its final report on the development consent order.
"In the meantime, there remains an obvious failure of politics - a lack of proper public consultation over the airport’s potential impacts on Thanet and neighbouring districts."
Manston Airport closed for business in 2014 and has since found itself at the centre of a tug-of-war over its future.
RSP plans to launch in April 2023 and bosses say it will be primarily air freight, handling at least 10,000 air cargo movements per year.
It was later confirmed passenger flights run by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet will start around two years later, handling about one million passengers a year.
The facility expects to create thousands of jobs and the owners say it will give east Kent a £300 million boost and provide an alternative to the London airports network.
Both of Thanet's Tory MPs have publicly voiced their approval of the airport reopening plans which they believe "reflect the wishes of the majority of the people of Thanet".
Speaking last month South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: " We can now get Manston up and flying again providing post-Brexit Britain with the additional airfreight and passenger capacity we need.
“The re-opening of Manston will generate a substantial number of jobs in a relatively short period of time."
He added that Manston had been an airport for more than a hundred years and that it provides a "spade ready" solution to assist the country in its new global position outside the EU.