After being closed since 2014, Manston airport has been bought by RiverOak Strategic Partners, which intends to reopen it for passenger and cargo flights.
Former landowners Stone Hill Park had owned 742 acres of the site which totals around 770 acres. RiverOak paid the firm £16.5m for the site. With the completion of the transaction, RiverOak subsidiary RiverOak MSE now owns more than 95% of the site wanted for the airport plans.
The Development Consent Order is still needed for the cargo hub project with a decision from the Secretary of State expected by January 2020. RSP has now submitted an updated Summary of its Case for the DCO, to the Planning Inspectorate, now that many of the issues relating to the Compulsory Acquisition of the land and the objections to the proposals been withdrawn.
Issues surrounding national need, night flights and noise and blight compensation still need to be considered under the DCO process.
Niall Lawlor, director of RiverOak, said: “We are delighted that the deal is done. Our specialist team will be on site within days, undertaking some long-overdue additional survey work to help us secure development consent and return Manston to operational use as soon as possible.
“As you will read in the Summary of our Case, we have shaped our plans around delivering a world class air cargo operation that delivers much needed runway capacity, jobs for local people and businesses – and fulfils government policy to make best use of existing runways.
“We have also committed to avoiding any scheduled night flights (other than in emergency situations and between 6 and 7am), delivering a net gain in the biodiversity of the site (accepted as such by Natural England), making a significant contribution in land and money to Kent County Council’s aspiration for a new link road, retaining important historical airport infrastructure and creating passenger airport facilities to provide an opportunity to boost the local economy through tourism.
“There is much hard work still ahead of us, but we look forward to giving Thanet back its airport and would like to thank all of our supporters for their continued faith in us.”
RiverOak predicts that from 2024, 680,000 passengers will fly from Manston each year, along with 174,000 tonnes of cargo, with these figures expected to double from after two decades.