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Extinction Rebellion target Sir Roger Gale's Thanet office over Manston Airport flight backing


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Environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion have turned an MP's office into a climate crime scene, complete with mock police tape.

The group targeted Sir Roger Gale's constituency office in Thanet , due to his backing of flights resuming from Manston Airport.

Extinction Rebellion's protest at Sir Roger Gale's office. Picture: Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion's protest at Sir Roger Gale's office. Picture: Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion (XR) claims the MP wants to see a global freight hub at the regional airport 'at whatever cost to the environment and quality of life for those living under the flightpath.'

In July the airport's owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) announced freight flights would resume and also said passenger flights run by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet will eventually operate from the site.

It came after the Government granted a Development Consent Order enabling the base to re-open.

XR Thanet joint co-ordinator Peter Batt said: “Manston airport has never been a commercial success, primarily because of the spare capacity of larger, more-established and better-located airports.

“Given this background and our urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Manston is precisely the kind of infrastructure project that we should scrap. The fact we’re even still discussing this represents a failure of politics at a local and national level – a failure to grasp the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced.

Extinction Rebellion member Peter Batt
Extinction Rebellion member Peter Batt

“By granting RSP consent to develop the Manston site, the Government has ignored both its legal obligation to cut carbon emissions under the Paris Accord, as well as its own planning and aviation experts.

“And too many of our local political leaders – Sir Roger prime among them – have campaigned to reopen Manston at any cost, putting the interests of a small group of investors and supporters before that of the wider community.

“Manston is not needed, but is being sold to local people on the extremely dubious promise of jobs. What our political leaders need to understand is that if we kill the planet, there will be no jobs.

“It’s time that politicians like Sir Roger promote the greater good and ditch this vanity project.”

XR Thanet campaigners sectioned off Sir Roger Gale’s constituency office as a climate crime scene.

Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet. Picture: Tony Flashman
Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet. Picture: Tony Flashman

They also relabelled the building, in Canterbury Road, Birchington, to re-brand it as a RiverOak constituency office.

However, when it was announced Manston would once again see plane operations, the Thanet North MP said the decision 'reflected the wishes of the majority of people in Thanet,' and welcomed the associated jobs boost.

He added: "I applaud the determination of those who have worked so hard in support of this cause and the commitment of RiverOak who, since the airport was closed, have not wavered in their determination to see Manston re-opened as a freight hub and, subsequently, as a passenger and general aviation airfield again.

"£300 million of inward investment is a sum that East Kent has never seen before.

"The capacity to create good, long term employment is colossal.

The site of Manston Airport
The site of Manston Airport

"This would be good news for Thanet and good news for the country at any time but in the middle of an economically devastating pandemic is a shot in the arm for the nation."

He added: "When it re-opens, Manston is planned to be the most environmentally friendly airfield in the world and that will send a clear signal that a new Britain is very much open for business."

Manston Airport closed for business in 2014 and has since found itself at the centre of a tug-of-war over its future.

When passenger flights are launched, it is predicted the airport will handle one million to 1.5 million people a year.

Cargo traffic is scheduled to start in 2023 and at least 10,000 air cargo movements per year are being planned.

Mock police tape says 'Climate Crime Scene' Picture: Extinction Rebellion
Mock police tape says 'Climate Crime Scene' Picture: Extinction Rebellion

In August Extinction Rebellion held another protest against Manston, by draping a banner from a bridge over the Thanet Way, the A299.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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