Initial Meetings by the Planning Inspectorate on the Manston DCO (January 2019)

This week, the initial meetings to examine the Development Consent Order submitted by RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd are taking place at the Winter Gardens, Margate.

The meetings consist of a Preliminary Meeting (9th January) to discuss the examination procedure, a Issue Specific Hearing (10th January), followed by two Open Floor Hearings (evening of 10th January and 11th January).

Links to the audio recordings have now been added to this post, which are also available at:

Day 1

A report from today’s Preliminary Meeting at Margate Winter Gardens regarding RSP’s draft Development Consent Order.

The meeting started at 10.00am and closed at 4.00pm with a total of an hour break for coffee and lunch. Around 120 members of the public and groups attended in the morning and about half that number in the afternoon.

The lead Examiner, Kelvin MacDonald, opened the meeting and introduced himself and asked the other Inspectors, who he referred to as a ‘carefully chosen panel’, to introduce themselves. They are Martin Broderick, Jonathan Hockley and Jonathan Manning.


As well as the Panel there were representatives from local authorities KCC, CCC, TDC, and DDC; Counsel for SHP and the three main directors of RSP, with their Counsel, at the table.

The audience consisted of support groups on either side of the divide, a representative from both the CPRE and the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum as well as individual members of the public.

This meeting was basically just procedural designed to set the timetable for the Examination. Mr MacDonald led the proceedings and explained the all the processes contained in Rule Letter 6 –

Many opportunities were given to the floor to speak, with the caveat that everyone respected one another and that comments were just procedural and not about the merits or otherwise of the application.

Mr MacDonald asked RSP, through their Lead Counsel, Isabella Tafur, about their progress in liaising with statutory bodies regarding drawing up Statements of Common Ground (which, it was explained, finds areas of mutual agreement or dissent between the two parties).

Ms Tafur, replied that they are working with the relevant bodies such as Natural England, Southern Water, the Environmental Agency etc, towards gaining licences and Statements of Common Ground but that they did not envisage securing all of these consents and licences during the examination process, not until after the DCO decision was made.

She said that RSP’s last meeting with the CAA was in October 2018 and that, while there are a number of consents and authorisations required, the CAA have made it clear that the focus should be on Air Space Change process. A statement of need was submitted prior to Christmas but has not yet appeared on the CAA website for formal consultation and the CAA have not yet appointed a case officer.

Inspector Broderick asked if RSP were confident that they would have the certificate before the end of the Examination. Isabella Tafur replied that they wouldn’t as it would take the CAA two years to authorise. Mr Broderick further asked if there would be a ‘letter of comfort’. Ms Tafur replied that they hoped it would be covered in the Statement of Common Ground with the CAA.

Both an audio recording and written notes of the meeting will be placed on the PINs website as soon as possible, together with the Examination timetable informed by today’s discourse.

Tomorrow we will be attending the specific hearing meeting, which deals solely with RSP’s draft DCO application, and then the open meeting in the evening.

Here is a take on the meeting from Kentonline:

11th January 2019 (17:40): The audio recordings of the Preliminary Meeting held on Wednesday 9th January have now been published on the PINs website as below.

Preliminary Meeting – Morning Session, Part 1

Preliminary Meeting – Morning Session, Part 2

Preliminary Meeting – Afternoon Session

Day 2

A brief report from today’s Issue Specific Hearing Meeting at Margate’s Winter Gardens which was explicitly to examine the content of RSP’s draft Development Consent Order.

The meeting started at 10.00am with an introduction by Lead Inspector Kelvin MacDonald.
Around the table were 5 members of the Examining Authority (ExA), approximately 16 representatives forming the RSP team, a team of three Counsel from SHP plus representatives from TDC and the Environment Agency.

Around 50 members of the public and groups were in attendance today.

Before starting Mr MacDonald reminded the meeting that Compulsory Acquisition matters would be dealt with in a separate Specific Hearing meeting.

RSP were first asked to give a brief outline of their plans before Mr MacDonald, occasionally assisted by Martin Broderick, asked the questions contained in the 11 page agenda attached here –

Much of the questioning was pedantry with wording and terminology, inclusions and omissions challenged. Terms such as ‘unlikely’ and ‘materially’ were asked to be defined. RSP were asked to replace conditional words such as ‘should’ with ‘must’ to prevent ambiguity.

The Inspector commented on the over-reliance on using previous DCOs as precedents and asked for additional explanations where necessary.

He also questioned the use of the Secretary of State as the discharging officer in every case. RSP replied that they didn’t think that TDC had sufficient expertise but both the ExA and TDC thought that many issues could be dealt with at Local Authority level.

PINs asked RSP about the status of the High Resolution Direction Finder (HRDF). Richard Hinchcliffe of Osprey replied, on behalf of RSP, saying that the HRDF needs safeguarding and moving and that they have been in talks with the The Defence Infrastructure Organisation and are waiting for them to come back to them.  He said that they are making provision for relocating the HRDF elsewhere. PINs asked if this would be inside or outside of the DCO area as the location could have an impact on the Masterplan. Mr Freudman replied that their preferred site was on the landowner’s land which contain the landing approach lights.

The ExA asked RSP to differentiate between the parts of the draft DCO that were required for an NSIP and those that were allocated for Associated Development. Mr MacDonald said, “As it stands in the dDCO all those works [on the Northern Grass] are totally unrelated to airport development.” RSP said that they will re-introduce the link to airport-related in the relevant document. Mr MacDonald reminded RSP that the Northern Grass development could not be used as a complementary revenue stream but had to be integral to the DCO. He emphasised that the core principle definition of Associated Development must be related to the DCO and not just in words.

There was quite a bit of discussion on Limits to Deviation which the Inspector said lacked clarity. There appears to be confusion over the heights for construction in correlation to the height of the land and the ExA questioned the effect this may have on visual impact.

The meeting then moved on to consider the Benefit of Order and Consent to Transfer Benefit of Order.
RSP were asked who will operate the airport.

Tony Freudman, Director of RSP, confirmed that RSP are responsible for operating, managing and developing the airport. When it comes to the actual operation of the airport itself it is the intention of the applicant to have ultimate responsibility of the airport with parts of the operation, at ground level, being sub-contracted out.

The ExA asked what RSP’s track record was in operating an airport. Mr Freudman replied that RSP have no track record with operating airports but that they are an investment company and “investing in infrastructure projects is our speciality.” He said they plan to hire a management team to run the airport and that the creation of such a team would be subject to scrutiny by the CAA.

There were many issues addressed, unfortunately too many to cover here.

The ExA asked for all changes to the DCO to be submitted as both a clean and track-changed copies.

Tonight at 7.00pm there will be an Open Floor hearing followed by another tomorrow morning at 10.00am.

16th January 2019: The audio recordings of the Issue Specific Meeting held on Thursday 10th January have now been published on the PINs website as below.

Issue Specific Hearing 1 – Morning Session, Part 1

Issue Specific Hearing 1 – Morning Session, Part 2 (includes Associated Development)

Issue Specific Hearing 1 – Afternoon Session, Part 1

Issue Specific Hearing 1 – Afternoon Session, Part 2 (includes the management of the airport)

Open Floor Meetings

These meetings were held to allow members of the public and groups to air their respective views on RSP’s draft Development Consent Order.

Around the table were the four Inspectors forming the Examining Authority. The following audio recordings were published on 16th January 2019.

Thursday 10 January 2019 led by Inspector Martin Broderick.

Open Floor Hearing 1 – Evening Session

Friday 11 January 2019 led by Inspector Jonathan Manning.

Open Floor Hearing 2 – Morning Session, Part 1

Open Floor Hearing 2 – Morning Session, Part 2

Open Floor Hearing 2 – Afternoon Session

Dr Simon Moores

Today (10th January 2019), we were shocked and saddened to hear that ex Thanet District Council Councillor, pilot and ardent Manston campaigner, Dr Simon Moores has been killed in a plane crash.

Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
Dr Simon Moores, 8th January 2019.
More details are available on the press reports

One thought on “Initial Meetings by the Planning Inspectorate on the Manston DCO (January 2019)

  • January 21, 2019 at 12:14 am

    Hooray,DCO documentation now being discussed, and I hope this will ensure a positive result for the return of a freight and commercial airport. This is how Stansted airport started and look at it now. I am 66 years old but realistic enough to know we all have to adapt to this fast changing world.

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