Update on RiverOak’s Development Consent Order Application

A second meeting with RiverOak and the Planning Inspectorate has taken place on the 23rd February in regards to the DCO process.

The meeting note on this discusses that letters seeking access to the land to undertake survey work have been sent and also details on the freight movements, vehicular access, night flights and museums. They plan to have public consultation activities this summer.


Main Extract:

Summary of key points discussed and advice given:

The Planning Inspectorate (the Inspectorate) explained its openness policy and its statutory duty to publish any advice issued under section 51 of the Planning Act 2008 (PA2008) on its website. Any advice issued under s51 does not constitute legal advice upon which the attendees, or others, can rely.

Introductions were made by everyone present and individual roles were explained.

RiverOak provided an overview of activity since the last meeting and confirmed that various consultants have been appointed to the scheme. RiverOak anticipated a meeting of the combined consultancy team imminently with the aim of discussing the preparation of a masterplan.

RiverOak provided some observations about the air freight industry in the UK and particularly in respect of the South East System. RiverOak believed there to be a current and future undersupply in dedicated freight capacity and highlighted where they considered there to be constraints on existing airports. RiverOak indicated some of the working assumptions being considered in supporting their application in respect of, for example, average freight tonnage per aircraft movement.

The PA2008 definition and thresholds associated with airport development were discussed. RiverOak confirmed that they believed their application would be under s23(1)(b) as an alteration to an airport due to the remaining physical infrastructure on the site and noted in respect of PA2008 s23(5)(b) they were likely to consider that the airport had zero capacity because of its current physical state.

RiverOak confirmed that letters had been sent to certain landowners in respect of seeking access on to their land to undertake survey work. Timeframes had been identified for response in that correspondence however, it was noted that to date no responses had been received. The considerations in respect of a s53 authorisation request were discussed and The Inspectorate noted the importance of evidence to accompany any such request. The Inspectorate’s Advice Note 5 was highlighted.

RiverOak provided an update on the proposals and confirmed the intention that Manston Airport would be capable of providing over 10,000 additional freight movements by 2024/2025, with further growth beyond that date. There would also be low cost and charter passenger flights. RiverOak explained that their current thinking was based on a range of scenarios that would be subject to the masterplanning approach. RiverOak provided some background context in respect of the need and operation of a ‘dismantling and recycling’ facility for decommissioned aircraft. RiverOak also noted plans for the site that could include enhancing the tourism offer and location of an Aerospace Park. The Inspectorate were interested to understand what elements would form part of a Development Consent Order (DCO) application for the site and how the development of the site, as controlled through the DCO and associated certified document and plans, was proposed to be phased.

The existing accesses for freight and passenger vehicles from the existing road networks were explained. RiverOak noted the highway network in the vicinity of the airport and noted one junction in particular that would potentially require improvement. RiverOak also highlighted a public highway that runs through the centre of the site. RiverOak noted that the outcome of studies, assessment and masterplanning work would provide more detail about any off site highway mitigation works. RiverOak discussed the potential for compulsory acquisition of land currently associated with two operational museums, the land could be required in respect of highways improvement. However, RiverOak noted their intention that the museums would be provided with upgraded facilities as part of its development, whether there is a need for such highways improvements or not.

The night time curfew was discussed; RiverOak noted that night time landing is permitted if the planes have not been scheduled. RiverOak indicated that it was possible that some night flights would be required. RiverOak confirmed that noise control and mitigation would be a key part of their environmental study and consultation process.

RiverOak discussed CAP 168 that sets out the licensing requirements in respect of operational management and the planning of aerodrome development. RiverOak confirmed that any considerations flowing from this document in terms of powers/works/land would clearly be reflected in their DCO where relevant.

The role of the relevant local authority (Thanet District Council) was noted and discussed. RiverOak outlined their evolving engagement strategy with the Local Authority. Given the timetable to submission, The Inspectorate offered to ‘host’ an early meeting between RiverOak and Thanet District Council.

RiverOak queried the Inspectorate’s approach in relation to transboundary effects. The Inspectorate noted that RiverOak should refer to Advice Note 12 on the subject and should also include reference to any likelihood of transboundary effects arising as part of any request for a Scoping Opinion.

RiverOak noted their intention to achieve a first draft of the masterplanning process by early spring. RiverOak anticipated that a Scoping Request may be submitted to The Inspectorate by late spring and were currently planning their public consultation activities to take place in late summer.

Specific decisions / follow up required?

Discussion arrangement for future meetings, with a suggestion for a teleconference in early April and a further meeting at the end of April