Published: 11:00, 17 July 2020
| Updated: 11:11, 17 July 2020
Thousands of pounds have been pouring into a crowdfunder set up to help fight the decision to reopen Manston as an airport.
The funding pot - which had an initial target of £12,000 but has reached more than £28,000 in just two days - will help pay for the application process for a Judicial Review and subsequent legal fees.
If the review is granted, the decision by the Secretary of State to approve a development consent order to open Manston near Ramsgate as a freight cargo air hub will be challenged in court.
The legal battle has been launched by Jenny Dawes, the chair of Ramsgate Coastal Community Team, who says she is acting alone but with a groundswell of community support.
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.
Some £12,000 was needed to start the process, with more required if the Judicial Review application is accepted.
Ms Dawes says Thanet's coastline and a number of towns and villages are facing disaster.
"The effects of which will be felt much further afield," she added.
"The disused airport at Manston has been given permission by the government to re-open as a highly-polluting cargo hub.
"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.
"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.
'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' - Jenny Dawes
"It will ruin our health and well-being 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."
The government granted the DCO last week, enabling the airport, owned by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), 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.
RSP director Tony Freudmann says a dedicated training college will also be built on site to train local people for employment at the airport.
"Once built, Manston will be one of the most modern, efficient and environmentally friendly freight hubs in the world, able to cater for traditional freight as well as the rapidly expanding international e-commerce sector that the UK has so heavily relied upon during the period of lock down," he said.
"Alongside the work needed to return Manston to operational status, we will be accelerating both our local procurement programme and the work of the Manston Skills and Employment Board, in partnership with a wide range of business, education, training and local authority organisations, to ensure local people have the skills and experience needed to benefit from a wide variety of airport jobs."
Opinions on whether the airport should be re-opened are divided.
Both MP for North Thanet, Sir Roger Gale, and MP for South Thanet, Craig Mackinlay, are in support.
But Thanet Green Party says members are astonished at the decision.
"It will inevitably be challenged in the courts, meaning this sorry saga will drag on well into the future, with inevitable negative effects on us in Thanet," a spokesman said.
To see the crowdfunder click here.