Historic Manston Airport, which served as a front-line airfield during both World Wars, will once again come to the aid of Kent and the UK. It was announced today that the site will be used to park HGV’s following the continuing Calais crisis. The announcement comes more than a year after the airport, the UK’s sixth largest for freight in 2013, was closed.
Whilst the Supporters of Manston Airport are concerned that Manston Airport is not the best location for such a lorry park, being too far from Dover and even further from the Channel Tunnel, we understand the necessity for the site to be temporarily used for the good of the nation.
Local roads could become clogged with an influx of hundreds, if not thousands, of large vehicles. This will affect the tourism trade that the area is reliant on, as well as many local businesses. The authorities must ensure this is carefully managed and the local community is considered.
There are few facilities for drivers on the site, this is not just an issue of comfort, but also safety for long-haul drivers. Supporters of Manston Airport would like to see appropriate rest facilities provided for all drivers.
Crucially, a decision to perform a compulsory purchase order on the Manston Airport site is imminent, with hope of restoring it to a fully operational airport still strong. It is important that this usage of the Manston Airport site does not prevent, delay or prejudice this process. Manston’s runway, which could cost billions to build today, must be carefully protected.
The Manston Airport site may relieve the situation somewhat temporarily, however we believe that the Government needs to act decisively and work with all parties to tackle the problem at source. Rather than simply moving the problem, the Government must come up with a sustainable long-term solution. There are many options that we believe are more appropriate, for example using Manston’s well-respected facilities to fly freight across Europe and utilising the capacity of the nearby Port of Ramsgate.