Support the judicial review of the SECOND Manston Airport DCO

Last: September 29, 2022

It’s in!


An application was submitted earlier today (September 29, 2022) for leave for judicial review of the resumed decision to grant Development Consent (DCO) for the reopening and redevelopment…

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Here we go again…

On August 18, 2022, the Department of Transport announced that the Secretary of State had, for a second timehas decided to grant a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the reopening and redevelopment of the disused Manston Airport.

The first DCO was overturned by the High Court in February 2021 when the Secretary of State acknowledged that his decision letter did not give sufficient grounds to grant the 2020 Manston Airport Development Consent Order.

Again the decision goes against the advice of the committee appointed by the Planning Inspectorate and – this time – it also goes against the advice of the independent assessor appointed by the secretary of state itself.

A Development Consent Order is planning permission for an infrastructure project of national significance and applies when a developer wishes to increase the capacity of an airport by 10 million passengers or 10,000 air cargo movements per year.

Why is this important?

In a world struggling to cope with the devastating effects of climate change and international conflict, how a government interprets and implements its own policies and strategies matters more than ever.

Locally, the reopening of Manston Airport would cause irreparable harm to the people, economy, natural environment and heritage of towns and villages in East Kent.


Manston Airport is a former military airfield that has repeatedly failed as a commercial airport. It is in the Thanet district of Kent, on the southeast corner of England, overlooking the English Channel and around 75 miles from London.

The eastern end of the track is just over 500m from the houses that mark the start of Ramsgate, the nearest town to the development site and home to over 40,000 people. The proposed flight path passes through this historic town, over the Royal Harbor and Main Sands to the English Channel, just 4.2 kilometers from the end of the runway.

The airport closed in 2014. In 2018 RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd (RSP) applied for a Development Consent Order to reopen and redevelop the site as a dedicated cargo hub with potential for some passenger flights and ancillary services .

RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd is a company registered in the UK and with several single purpose subsidiaries associated with the operation of the airport. The ultimate majority shareholder is a company registered in Panama.

RSP’s request for a DCO was accepted for review by a college of 4 inspectors appointed by the Town Planning Inspectorate. There were 8 specific hearings, two compulsory acquisition hearings, four public hearings and 2,052 relevant representations. In its final report to the Secretary of State, the reviewing authority stated “the levels of cargo that the proposed development could be expected to handle are modest and could be accommodated at existing airports” and that RSP had “has not demonstrated sufficient need for the proposed development”.

ExA concluded that “on balance, the benefits of this proposal would not outweigh its impacts” and recommended that the Secretary of State NOT grant development permission.

Development authorization was granted on July 9, 2020.

With the support of hundreds of donors, I was able to mount a successful challenge and the DCO was overturned by the High Court on February 15, 2021.

The Secretary of State, having acknowledged that he had “not given sufficient reasons to enable the reader to understand why he disagreed with the reviewing authority on the question of necessity”, has appointed Ove Arup and Partners Limited to act as independent assessor and assist in the review of the application. Two more rounds of consultation followed with more than 800 representations submitted in response to the reconsideration process.

The independent evaluator concluded that no evidence was presented regarding the case of quantitative need, or significant or material changes to the policy that would lead to conclusions different from those reached by the review authority in 2019 .


All evidence submitted for the first review and the second and third rounds of consultation can be viewed here on the PINS Planning Inspectorate website

And then ?

My legal team consisting of Kate Harrison, Alice Goodenough, Susan Ring and Jack Robirosa believe that there are sufficient grounds to begin the step-by-step process of seeking leave for judicial review of the Development Consent Order. Manston Airport 2022 and instructed barristers Richard Harwood OBE KC and Gethin Thomas, both of 39 Essex Chambers.

Each stage will have to be financed. The fundraising goal may change, but only to raise amounts that could reasonably be spent on this litigation.

Any residual funding from the first campaign will be carried over to support this new campaign for a judicial review of Manston’s second development consent order.

I am extremely grateful to everyone who contributed to the first successful challenge and believe that it is both useful and important to continue to challenge faulty decision-making.

If you can, consider making a donation for this new challenge.