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Manston Airport plans prohibited by Civil Aviation Authority


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The owner of the Manston Airport site has received another knockback after a proposal to use the site as an air freight hub was prohibited from progressing.

RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), which owns the Thanet site, will now "re-evaluate" supporting documents and resubmit the necessary paperwork, in the hope of getting to the next stage of the proposal.

In February, the government go-ahead on reopening Manston as an airport was officially quashed by the High Court.

Manston Airport has been closed for years and is now used as a lorry park Picture: Alan Langley
Manston Airport has been closed for years and is now used as a lorry park Picture: Alan Langley

It was confirmed that the transport secretary's previous decision to allow the site to reopen as a freight air hub did not possess adequate justification.

However, that was not the end of the long running saga as all evidence will now be once again pored over and a new decision is required in the future.

The airport ceased operating in 2014.

As part of its plans for the site, in 2019 RSP began the process to secure approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for its use of airspace and procedures for safe and efficient operations to and from the airport, if Manston opens again.

There are seven stages and 14 steps that need to be completed for the airspace change to be approved by the CAA.

As well as this, there are four 'gateways' which must be approved.

Planes have not flown from Manston Airport in years Picture: Chris Davey
Planes have not flown from Manston Airport in years Picture: Chris Davey

However, The CAA found that the RSP's 'develop and assess gateway', part of stage 2, had not met the necessary requirements for approval. The findings were published last week.

It said that the submission did not meet two of the criterion for approval.

"Errors and inconsistencies" were pointed out in the submission, including in the options appraisal.

The authority said: "The Civil Aviation Authority has informed the change sponsor of this decision.

"The change sponsor is now able to reconsider its submission before resubmitting it for further review by the Civil Aviation Authority at a future develop & assess gateway.

"It is important to note that whether an airspace change proposal passes a gateway successfully or not does not predetermine the CAA’s later final decision on whether to approve the airspace change proposal.

Manston Airport has been used to house lorries for Brexit related reasons
Manston Airport has been used to house lorries for Brexit related reasons

"This decision is not an explicit or implicit comment on the merits or otherwise of this Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) . This will come at the decision-making stage."

In a statement, RSP said: "In order for the CAA to allow an ACP to pass through a gateway, the change sponsor must satisfy the CAA that it has followed the process correctly before it can move to the next stage in the process.

"The purpose is to minimise any work having to be repeated, particularly in getting the supporting documentation for consultation right.

"Following advice from the CAA, RSP will re-evaluate the supporting documentation with a view to submitting the documents to the CAA for a further Stage 2 Gateway Assessment in the near future and progressing the ACP to the next stage which will involve a full public consultation."

After the government decided to allow the airport to open as a freight hub, a judicial review was launched by campaign leader Jenny Dawes, with evidence put forward against the ruling of Grant Shapps, transport secretary.

The government was acting against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate,

The case was due to be heard by the High Court in London in February, but the Government conceded in December that its approval did not contain enough detail.

They announced the judicial review would not be contested as it "did not give adequate and intelligible reasons" for going against the Planning Inspectorate.

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