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High Court judge approves quashing of Development Consent Order for WW2 airport in Kent

The Development Consent Order for Manston Airport in Kent has this week been formally quashed by the Planning Court.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had given permission for Manston, a World War 2 airfield, to become an air freight hub. In doing so he overturned the recommendation of the examining inspector appointed under the national infrastructure planning system.

The claimant, Jennifer Dawes, subsequently secured permission from Mrs Justice Lang for judicial review on all grounds in October 2020.

In a letter dated 1 December 2020 the Secretary of State for Transport consented to judgment. The Minister conceded on the basis of ground 1(b) of Ms Dawes’ claim, namely a failure to give reasons.

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Riveroak Strategic Partners, which was behind the plans for the airport, confirmed that they would not be defending the claim.

Mr Justice Holgate approved a consent order this week (15 February). The Secretary of State and Riveroak were ordered to pay Ms Dawes’ costs, limited in both cases to £35,000.

Manston Airport has been closed in May 2015 and since then there have been a series of disputes over whether it should reopen for aviation or be used as a science park.

In his decision letter, the Transport Secretary said that despite the inspector’s conclusion that the airport should not reopen on environmental grounds, he disagreed because “there is a clear case of need for the development which existing airports…able to handle freight would not bring about to the same extent or at all”.

Mr Shapps also said socio-economic benefits would flow from the development to the locality and it would “support the government’s policy objective to make the UK one of the best-connected countries in the world and for the aviation sector to make a significant contribution to economic growth of the UK”.

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