14 AUGUST 2017
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Plans to create a state-of-the-art cargo hub with complementary passenger and engineering services are moving ahead at the former Manston Airport in Kent, which has been closed for three years.
Campaign groups and local MPs have been fighting to reopen it after the site, which has one of the longest runways in Europe, was bought for £1 and plans announced to build thousands of houses on it.
Now private-equity company RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) has applied to the government for a development consent order, with a decision expected by the end of this year or the beginning of 2018.
If this is accepted for examination, the airport could be protected, leaving the way clear for RSP to go ahead with a promised investment of around £300m over 20 years for new infrastructure and 19 aircraft stands.
Campaigners say as well as creating thousands of jobs in East Kent and beyond, the plan would alleviate a situation caused by congestion at major airports where cargo is regularly bumped off because of passenger demand.
One estimate suggests £1m an hour is lost in the UK by freight being flown into less-busy European airports and having to be trucked back.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Angela Stevens, United Kingdom
In reply to Bradley Burgess, a cargo plane can be full of heavy goods or vegetables and flowers, as many of the cargo from Manston is. It doesn’t always mean that full is extremely heavy.
Charles Henry, London
The reopening of Manston would signal a reversal of the current trend to close more and more much needed Airfields. Similar action is needed to protect Dunsfold, Fairoaks and many others currently under threat. Government action to clarify the Brownfield status of all Airfields is urgently needed and the formation of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Aviation has stated this protection will be a priority .
Angela Stevens, United Kingdom
The sooner Manston Airport is reopened the better. Jobs desperately needed in Thanet, East Kent. Heathwick desperately need freight moved elsewhere too, as they are both almost at 100% capacity.
The mix of employment provided by a well resourced, and successful airport are very much needed around Manston. This area has the highest unemployment especially amongst 18-24 in Kent, UK. The Riveroak DCO anticipates 30000 jobs.
David Bentley, Oldham, United Kingdom
@ Bradley Burgess. Well I guess that\'s where the bulk of the £300 m investment is going then - on a runway extension. With the government committed to \'regional\' airport development I don\'t know how they could say no.
BRADLEY BURGESS, UK
Disappointed to see you repeating the myth peddled by the Manston cheer leaders suggesting that Manston has "one of the longest runways in Europe". At 2752m (9000 ft) it isn't even one of the longest in the UK - just off the cuff both of Heathrow's and Manchester's runways are longer, as are Gatwick's and Prestwick's. One of Manston's problems is that its runway is not long enough for a fully loaded pure freighter to depart on a long range flight.