MP Sir Roger Gale is backing our calls for a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to be issued on Manston Airport by Thanet District Council. Sir Roger stated the move should be pursued to “remove the airport from the hands of those who clearly have other objectives.”
A CPO would then allow Thanet District Council to lease or sell the site to prevent any losses.
Sir Roger said his view is shared by council leader Cllr Iris Johnston who is expecting a visit from airport owner Ann Gloag in the coming days.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said airlines should be offered a five-year tax break to encourage them to begin operations at Manston Airport. If the airport was assigned as an enterprise zone, this would give tax incentives to airlines. Mr Farage said “If you said to budget airlines that if they located to Thanet and would be given a tax break for five years – these are hard-nosed commercial businesses and I think you would see quite a lot of money and investment coming in.” He added that the closure was a “huge waste of a tremendous asset” but suggested it would not be permanent.
Today we, the Save Manston Airport campaign group, will be conducting a peaceful march on Thanet District Council.
Sir Roger said this morning: “Laura Sandys (South Thanet MP) and I are of the view, which I have reason to understand is shared by the new Labour leadership of Thanet District Council and by the Conservative opposition, that with the closure of the airfield the best way to secure a new future for aviation at Manston will be for a Compulsory Purchase Order to be placed upon the site which has, at present, planning consent only as an airport.
“This is detailed in the very recent draft of the local plan so there should be little difficulty in establishing existing use and thus for the local authority to acquire and then perhaps lease out or sell on the site at a sensible price.”
He added: “Clearly the council will wish to prepare its own study of options based upon legal advice but the opinion that we have been offered is that a bid to place a CPO on the airfield would succeed and that it could be readily funded.
“If that is so then it ought to be possible to remove the airport from the hands of those who clearly have other objectives and to restore Manston to its rightful place as part of our airport capacity in the south east.
“From the work that has already been done we have good reason to believe that those who wish to re-open the airport and have the capacity to do so have every chance of succeeding where others have seemingly chosen to fail and we hope and expect that TDC’s senior officers, acting on instructions from elected members, will take a very robust line.
“We have to dispel the impression given, arising from discussions that apparently took place with TDC officers earlier in the year, that housing is a ‘done deal’ and that anything other than airport use is on the agenda. As Iris Johnston has made publicly clear, it is not.”
Thanet District Council’s Position
“The council is aware that a peaceful march is to take place today (Wednesday 21 May) calling for the compulsory purchase of Manston Airport by Thanet District Council.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Nicholson, requested an officer report to set out the council’s options to determine whether CPO would be a viable consideration, given the extensive costs and liabilities this would involve.
Thanet District Council Leader, Cllr Iris Johnston is also to meet Manston Airport owner Ann Gloag in the coming weeks, along with key representatives, to discuss the future of the airport.
Until Cabinet has considered the officer report, and the Council Leader has met with the owner, the council will not be in a position to determine whether a CPO is a viable consideration or not.
The council has been clear that it supports activity that retains the existing footprint of the airport as an airport, and was disappointed that recent bids to save Manston were not successful.
The council is also keen to dismiss recent inaccurate reports regarding discussions between the council and airport owners to develop housing on the existing footprint of the airport.