Published: 11:59, 13 October 2020
| Updated: 13:05, 13 October 2020
A judge has granted permission for a legal challenge against the government's decision to reopen Manston airport.
It comes as a crowdfunder set up to help pay for an application process for a judicial review has now reached more than £80,000.
Now the application for the review has been granted, the Secretary of State's decision to approve a development consent order to open Manston near Ramsgate as a freight cargo air hub will be challenged in court.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale hopes the judicial review will be dealt with swiftly.
"The judge has granted the judicial review on the grounds that there may be a case to answer which is scarcely a ringing endorsement of the application," he said.
"Hopefully the hearing will be held as soon as possible so that plans to re-open the airfield and the £300 million of investment and the jobs that it will create can proceed as swiftly as possible.
Tony Freudmann, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), which owns the airport, told KentOnline: "We are meeting out lawyers this afternoon and will be issuing a full statement tomorrow."
The legal battle was launched by Jenny Dawes, the chair of Ramsgate Coastal Community Team.
Solicitors Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant have agreed to act for her and to instruct barristers Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas.
As she launched the campaign in July, Ms Dawes said Thanet's coastline and a number of towns and villages are facing disaster.
"The disused airport at Manston has been given permission by the government to re-open as a highly-polluting cargo hub," she said.
"This is against the advice of the government’s own planning experts, which sets a worrying precedent in the face of air pollution and climate change.
"According to the government’s own experts, re-opening the airport will damage the local economy and impact negatively on the UK’s carbon budget and our commitments to the Paris climate agreement."
Ms Dawes says it will cause irreparable harm to the people, the natural environment and the economy of east Kent.
The government granted the DCO in July, enabling the airport to reopen, with work starting on site next year.
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, with passenger flights starting around two years later, handling about one million passengers a year.
The facility is expected to have created 23,000 jobs by the airport's 20th year of operation and give east Kent a £300 million boost.
Sir Roger and South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay are in support of the airport reopening.
In August, Ms Dawes sent a pre-action letter demanding the government's decision be overturned - but this was rejected by the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps.
Ms Dawes and her team submitted the judicial review application soon after.
To see the crowdfunder click here.