Support Judicial Review of Manston Airport DCO
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Latest: Dec. 4, 2020
What next? What if ...?
Following the quashing of the Manston Airport Development Consent Order 2020 by the Court, the Secretary of State will write to all interested parties, setting out key issues and inviting further wri…Read more
This is a local issue of major national significance.
Kent’s Thanet coastline and a number of towns and villages are facing disaster, the effects of which will be felt much further afield.
The disused airport at Manston has been given permission by the Government to re-open as a highly-polluting cargo hub. This is against the advice of the Government’s own planning experts, which sets a worrying precedent in the face of air pollution and climate change.
According to the Government’s own experts, re-opening the airport will damage the local economy and impact negatively on the UK’s carbon budget and our commitments to the Paris climate agreement.
Please help stop this happening by donating towards the legal battle today.
Manston Airport sits 0.3 miles from Ramsgate in Kent, in the far south-east corner of England. A former military airfield, this short-lived commercial airport closed in 2014 having failed under three previous owners.
In 2018 an application was made to the Government for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to turn the disused site into a dedicated cargo airport.
After two years’ rigorous investigation, the Examining Authority (EA) (comprising a panel of four Planning Inspectors) appointed by the Secretary of State to conduct an examination of the application reported that the airport would: “have a material impact on the ability of Government to meet its carbon reduction targets”.
The EA also noted that, due to demand being met elsewhere, a new cargo airport is not needed, either locally or nationally. The EA said: “the levels of freight that the Proposed Development could expect to handle are modest and could be catered for at existing airports” and that the would-be airport developer had: “failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the Proposed Development.”
The EA concluded that ‘on balance the benefits of this proposal would not outweigh its impacts’ and recommended that the Government should NOT grant development consent.
The Government has ignored this conclusion and given Manston Airport DCO the go ahead.
Please help challenge an irrational and damaging decision.
The cargo-first development at Manston will handle the noisiest and most polluting type of aircraft, planes not even allowed at Heathrow. These are also the most expensive way of moving freight.
The opening of a dedicated cargo hub will cause irreparable harm to the people, the natural environment and the economy of East Kent. Residents in the seaside towns of Ramsgate and Herne Bay, and in surrounding villages, will be living under low-flying, heavy-duty, highly-polluting aircraft. Some will be a mere 500ft below the flight path.
It will ruin our health and well-being as well as blighting the tourist industry on which so many depend. This will not only be a disaster for local people and our towns and villages, but also for the climate change obligations of the UK.
Who Am I?
I chair Ramsgate Coastal Community Team. Set up as part of a government initiative in 2016, it's a local partnership with an understanding of the issues facing our area and charged with developing an effective forward strategy for the whole of Ramsgate.
I was born in Kent and now live in Ramsgate on the Isle of Thanet. I’m not alone in saying this is a very special place and many other people feel just as strongly about the area and the damaging effects of this government decision to grant the go-ahead for an airport that isn’t needed.
With the support of those affected, I’m launching an application for a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State’s decision.
The legal team is in place but at least £12,000 is needed to start the process, with a call for more if the application is accepted.
Solicitors Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant have agreed to act for me and to instruct barristers Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas.
Thank you for reading this. Please contribute now to a fighting fund for this Judicial Review. I need your support to act quickly and lodge an application for Judicial Review. We must act quickly, we have only 5 weeks left.
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Dec. 4, 2020
What next? What if ...?
Following the quashing of the Manston Airport Development Consent Order 2020 by the Court, the Secretary of State will write to all interested parties, setting out key issues and inviting further written representations on those issues.
Interested parties include the applicant, the local authority and anyone who previously registered by filling out a Relevant Representation form at the inquiry stage (and had it accepted as valid).
The Secretary of State will make a decision based on the Examining Authority’s Report and the further representations. The Secretary of State has three months to make a decision but this can be extended.
The decision could be either a refusal to make a Manston Airport Development Consent Order or a decision to grant such a Consent Order.
If a DCO is refused, RSP may wish to bring a judicial review. I would be an Interested Party in any such challenge.
If a DCO is granted, another judicial review can be brought on the existing grounds and any further grounds that may arise on review of the decision letter.
Any money left over from the current CrowdJustice campaign can be held in readiness and used towards a second judicial review
Dec. 2, 2020
ITS NOT OVER YET BUT ...
... yesterday my solicitors received a letter from the Treasury Solicitor, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport, which said "my client has agreed to concede this claim on the basis of ground 1(b), namely that the Secretary of State did not give adequate reasons in his decision letter to enable the reader to understand why he disagreed with the Examining Authority Report on the issue of need for the development of Manston Airport". We subsequently learned that the Interested Party, RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd, will not be defending their claim.
My lawyers set out three grounds of challenge to the decision to grant a Development Consent Order for the re-opening and development of Manston Airport:
Ground 1: Need
Ground 2: Breach of Procedural Requirement/Unfairness
Ground 3: Net Zero Duty
Here is the full text of Ground 1(b): Failure to Give Reasons:
75. S.116 of the 2008 Act and Regulation 30 of the EIA Regulations both impose a duty on the Defendant to give reasons for granting a DCO. In South Buckinghamshire DC v Porter  UKHL 33, the House of Lords confirmed that any such reasons must be adequate and intelligible, and enable the reader to understand why the matter was decided as it was and what conclusions were reached on the principal important controversial issues.
76. As to the quality of the reasons for disagreeing with the ExA on “need”, given that the Defendant asked himself entirely the wrong question, falsely eliding “need” with “benefit”, his reasons for disagreeing with the ExA on need are, inevitably, inadequate, improper and unintelligible. An informed reader of the DL is wholly unable to discern:
a. Why the Defendant considered that there was a “clear case of need” for the development which existing airports (Heathrow, Stansted and EMA) could not meet.
b. Upon what basis the quantum of anticipated need for freight had been assessed by him.
c. Upon what basis the capacity of existing airports within the south east to accommodate that quantum of need had been assessed by him.
d. Whether, and if so why, he considered those existing airports (Heathrow, Stansted and EMA) not to be preferred locations to meet that quantum of need.
e. To what extent he considered need could not be met in the bellyhold of passenger flights to and from those existing airports.
f. Whether, and if so why, he considered that facilities could not be constructed at those existing airports to meet that quantum of need.
g. Upon what basis the Defendant disagreed with the expert evidence produced by York Aviation, and others, against the need case.
77. These issues were all addressed in detail in the ExA’s report, but were not mentioned, let alone grappled with, in the Defendant’s perfunctory and dismissive DL.
The Treasury Solicitor will now draft an order disposing of the case. The order will have to be approved by all parties and submitted to the Court to be sealed - this final step in the current stage may take several weeks.
This update is couched in very formal language but I'm enormously relieved to have got this far and bowled over by all the support I've received. It's been a joint effort!
Nov. 14, 2020
WE HAVE A DATE FOR THE HEARING!
The Court has listed our 1.5 day hearing for 16/17 February 2021.
To recap, in July 2020, the Secretary of State for Transport gave permission for Manston Airport to reopen as a freight hub. Approval of the Development Consent Order (the first for a UK airport) went against the advice of the planning inspectorate which had concluded that "the airport will damage the local economy and impact negatively on the UK's carbon budget and our commitments to the Paris Agreement".
The Examining Authority's Report of Findings and Conclusions and Recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport recommended that the Secretary of State should not grant development consent.
The Examining Authority (ExA) was composed of four senior Planning Inspectors who made their recommendation to refuse the DCO after one of the most intensely scrutinised examinations ever handled: an unprecedented 682 pages of written questions (13 times the average), 2,052 relevant representations and a further 585 additional submissions. The ExA's final report exceeded 1,000 pages and made it clear the the Applicant had "failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the Proposed Development, additional to (or different from) the need which is met by the provision of existing airports".
The Secretary of State's Decision Letter can be found here: Decision Letter
The Examining Authority's full report can be found here: ExA Report
Thank you for all your support! With three months still to go to the hearing, we're well on our way towards achieving the fundraising target of £120,000.
Oct. 14, 2020
A note on costs
The court has imposed a cost limiting order cap limiting the amount I will have to pay towards the SoS's and RSP's combined costs, in the event that we lose the case, to £5,000. This is because this is an Aarhus Convention claim concerning the environment.
If the SoS and RSP lose, the amount they will have to pay towards my costs has been limited to £35,000 each - a total of £70,000. This will only go part of the way towards meeting the overall cost of bringing the case.
Both solicitors and counsel have supplied detailed estimates of costs, including VAT, set against the various stages of the case, for example preparing papers for filing, considering the defendant's reply, the hearing itself and finally any post-judgement matters. The judge's decision moves the case to a new stage of the process.
Oct. 14, 2020
WE HAVE PERMISSION!
The Court has granted permission for a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State for Transport's decision to give development consent for the reopening and redevelopment of Manston Airport.
Further, the Court has agreed that this is an Aarhus Convention claim and that costs should be capped.
No date has been set for the hearing but both the SoS (the Defendant) and RiverOak Strategic Partners Limited (the Interested Party) have until 16 November 2020 to lodge full grounds for resisting the claim.
It's been extraordinarily moving to see donations coming in and to read the comments. Thank you!
Not all applications for Judicial Review get this far but now the campaign is rolling forward for another 30 days. My wonderful legal team has provided a detailed estimate of their fees and once again I'm increasing the target - but this time in the knowledge that costs will be capped.
Ramsgate is a special place and worthy of respect!
Sept. 14, 2020
And on it goes...
As the funding target rolls over for a further 30 days both the Secretary of State for Transport and RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd have declared their intention to contest the claim for judicial review.
They now have five weeks to prepare and submit their full grounds for resisting the claim.
I am enormously grateful to everyone who has contributed so far - the £100,000 target is still challenging but it's both realistic and achievable! The first stretch target of £75,000 felt daunting; achieving and then surpassing it has been morale boosting - thank you!
Aug. 20, 2020
The claim has been issued at the High Court: the Defendant and Interested Party (RSP) now have until 11 September to file an acknowledgement of service indicating whether they wish to contest the claim and, if so, setting out their summary grounds for doing so.
Aug. 15, 2020
Today, the appeal for funding moves into a second thirty-day cycle and I've taken the decision to increase the stretch target.
The legal team is preparing to issue judicial review proceedings in light of an unsatisfactory pre-action protocol response. This response was not unexpected.
The deadline for the application for judicial review is Thursday 20 August 2020. On the basis of the government's response, the lawyers are able to finalise the bundle of papers for submission, including an estimate of costs. The Secretary of State accepts this would be an Aarhus Convention claim but has reserved his position on whether or not it would be appropriate to apply to vary the limit on recoverable costs.
A big 'thank you' to everyone who contributed towards the first stretch target! Please spread the word so that this second, more ambitious target becomes attainable!
Aug. 12, 2020
Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far or is thinking about contributing!
For clarification: this appeal will continue beyond the date set for achieving the first stretch target.
The Secretary of State has chosen not to reverse his decision. Therefore my legal team is preparing to submit an application next week for judicial review.
Aug. 7, 2020
A RESPONSE HAS BEEN RECEIVED
The Government Legal Department responded to the pre-action letter setting out draft grounds for judicial review, ahead of the deadline of 4.00 pm today.
I await advice from my legal team.
Aug. 3, 2020
WILL HE, WON'T HE...?
The Secretary of State for Transport has until 4pm on Friday to respond to the pre-action letter that sets out the draft grounds for judicial review.
At this stage, the Secretary of State could concede defeat.
Should he choose not to to do so, the legal team will issue the claim at Court and apply for permission to bring judicial review proceedings.
July 29, 2020
COSTS AND LIABILITIES
This page is about raising money to cover legal costs – for lawyers, experts and court fees – and to cover any liability for the costs of other parties should I lose.
The normal rule in legal cases is that the loser has to pay the winner’s costs. But in environmental law cases the amount a losing claimant has to pay is normally limited to £5K.
If the case is lost only the claimant is liable to pay the other side’s costs. There are government proposals to widen the list of those who could be liable to those who have given large donations, but those changes have not been brought into law
July 27, 2020
AN ADDITION TO THE LEGAL TEAM
Barristers Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas have been joined by their colleague Paul Stinchcombe QC also of 39 Essex Chambers.
July 25, 2020
A SIGNIFICANT STEP!
Yesterday my lawyers sent a Judicial Review Pre-action Protocol letter to the Secretary of State setting out the proposed grounds for judicial review.
The Secretary of State now has 14 days to respond substantively to this letter.
I will keep you updated.
July 24, 2020
STEP BY STEP
Thank you CrowdJustice for promoting this campaign to your support base yesterday! It is hugely encouraging to receive messages of support from around the country.
Yesterday was also a day for reviewing the funding target. This is a complex case: the Examining Authority's Report alone is more than 1,000 pages.
The funding target has been increased to allow for a number of possibilities.
The first step is to engage in pre-action correspondence with the Secretary of State. A pre-action letter setting out the draft grounds for judicial review is about to be sent and the Secretary of State will have 14 days to respond. It is open to the Secretary of State to concede defeat before proceedings have even been issued. .
If the Secretary of State does not concede, the next step will be to issue the claim at Court and apply for permission to bring judicial review proceedings. This will be served on the Secretary of State as the Defendant and the developer as an Interested Party. All this must be done by 20 August 2020.
If the Defendant and Interested Party want to contest the claim, they will need to file a summary defence; a judge will then consider whether to grant permission to bring the proceedings without a hearing. If the judge considers there is an arguable case, s/he will grant permission to bring judicial review proceedings and the claim will proceed to a hearing.
The hearing could take place as early as the autumn.
July 23, 2020
TIME TO DRAW BREATH
Two weeks in and a chance to say "Thank you" to everyone who has helped to get this far. It's moving to see contributions and comments pouring in - the first target was reached in a matter of hours! The second, stretch target is within reach but it's time to aim higher and set the challenge of a moveable target, one that will almost certainly change as the case progresses. Any application for judicial review has to be lodged within six weeks of the Secretary of State's decision and in this case the deadline is 20 August 2020.
The funding page says this is a matter of local interest but of national importance. It becomes more and more evident that this proposal to re-open a defunct airport in the south-east corner of England is part of a larger pattern of developments that threaten our environment and affect us all.
The team of solicitors supporting me first successfully challenged Heathrow expansion in 2009, when the then government gave it the go ahead. Harrison Grant acted for a consortium of local authorities, residents' groups and green groups including WWF and Greenpeace.
Thank you again to everyone who has help with donations ranging from £5 to £5,000. If you're still thinking about giving - yes please! Your contribution is needed.
Do reinforce this shared effort by spreading the word, encouraging others to read the funding page and understand what is at stake.
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