The decision by the Secretary of State on the application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to create a cargo hub at the Manston airport site has been delayed by four months.
The decision had been due on 18th January 2020 but a written statement to Parliament made by Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, on 16th January said the latest delay means the outcome is now due to be announced on 18th May 2020.
In her statement Nusrat Ghani said: “The Secretary of State received the Examining Authority’s report on the Manston Airport Development Consent Order application on October 18, 2019 and the current deadline for a decision is January 18, 2020. The deadline for the decision is to be extended to May 18 (an extension of 4 months) to enable further information on a range of issues to be provided by the applicant and other interested parties before determination by the Secretary of State. The decision to set a new deadline is without prejudice to the decision on whether to give development consent.”
The Planning Inspectorate Examining Panel, led by Kelvin McDonald, examined the application in 2019 which was made by Riveroak Strategic Partners to acquire the site and create a cargo hub and associated aviation business.
The land was owned by Stone Hill Park, which had submitted a planning application to create up to 3,700 homes, business and leisure and associated infrastructure. SHP sold the site to RSP subsidiary RiverOak MSE Ltd for £16.5 million in July, just days before the hearings concluded.
DCO approval is still needed for the cargo hub project, an issue which has split the Thanet community. Supporters of the plan say it will bring jobs and economic benefits but campaigners against the proposals say the business case is unsound and the proposal will result in pollution, noise and a loss of tourist trade – particularly in Ramsgate which is directly under the flight path.
During the hearings representations were made by a wide variety of organisations, including Thanet District Council, Ramsgate Town Council and Historic England. Local community groups and organisations giving evidence to the Inquiry included Save Manston Airport Association, Supporters of Manston Airport, No Night Flights, The Ramsgate Society and Nethercourt Action Group as well as numerous individuals and both Manston museums.
The decision letter and Recommendation Report will be published on the Planning Inspectorate Manston project page once a decision has been made.
There is speculation on why this delay has occurred but The Ramsgate Society will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will respond to the call for further information when the details are available from the Secretary of State and/or his officials.