Support Judicial Review of SECOND Manston Airport DCO
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Latest: Sept. 22, 2023
Sadly the application for judicial review was not successful
While I am disappointed with the judge's decision today, this is not the end of the process. Judicial review proceedings are seldom str…Read more
Here we go again...
On 18 August 2022, the Department for Transport announced that the Secretary of State had, for a second time, decided to grant a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the re-opening and re-development of the disused Manston Airport.
The first DCO was quashed by the High Court in February 2021 when the Secretary of State conceded that his decision letter did not give adequate reasons for granting the Manston Airport Development Consent Order 2020.
Yet again the decision goes against the advice of the panel appointed by the Planning Inspectorate and - this time - it also goes against the advice of the Independent Assessor appointed by the Secretary of State himself.
A Development Consent Order is planning permission for a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and applies when a developer wishes to increase the capacity of an airport by 10 million passengers or 10,000 air cargo movements a year.
Why does this matter?
In a world struggling to come to terms with the devastating impacts of climate change and international conflict, the way in which a government interprets and applies its own policies and strategies matters more than ever.
Locally, the re-opening of Manston Airport would result in irreparable harm to the people, the economy, the natural environment and the heritage of the towns and villages of East Kent.
Manston Airport is a former military airfield that failed repeatedly as a commercial airport. It is in the district of Thanet in Kent, at the south-eastern corner of England, overlooking the English Channel and approximately 75 miles from London.
The eastern end of the runway is just over 500 metres from the houses that mark the start of Ramsgate, the nearest town to the development site and home to over 40,000 people. The proposed flight path cuts across this historic town, over the Royal Harbour and Main Sands to the English Channel, just 4.2 kilometres from the end of the runway.
The airport closed in 2014. In 2018, RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd (RSP) applied for a Development Consent Order to re-open and re-develop the site as a dedicated cargo hub with potential for some passenger flights and ancillary services.
RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd is a UK registered company and with several single-purpose subsidiary companies associated with airport operation. The ultimate majority shareholder is a company registered in Panama.
RSP's application for a DCO was accepted for examination by a panel of 4 Inspectors appointed by the Planning Inspectorate. There were 8 issue-specific hearings, two compulsory acquisition hearings, four open floor hearings and 2,052 relevant representations. In its final report to the Secretary of State, the Examining Authority 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 RSP had "failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the Proposed Development".
ExA concluded that "on balance the benefits of this proposal would not outweigh its impacts" and recommended that the Secretary of State should NOT grant development consent.
Development Consent was granted on 9 July 2020.
With the support of hundreds of donors, I was able to mount a successful challenge and the DCO was quashed by the High Court on 15 February 2021.
The Secretary of State, having conceded that he had "not given adequate reasons to enable the reader to understand why he disagreed with the Examining Authority on the issue of need", appointed Ove Arup and Partners Limited to act in the capacity of an Independent Assessor and to assist in the redetermination of the Application. Two further rounds of consultation followed with over 800 representations submitted in response to the redetermination process.
The Independent Assessor concluded that there had been no evidence presented in respect of the quantitative need case, nor significant or material changes to policy that would lead to different conclusions being reached to those reached by the Examining Authority in 2019.
All evidence submitted to first Examination and the Second and Third Rounds of Consultation can be viewed here on the Planning Inspectorate's website PINS
My legal team of Alice Goodenough, Susan Ring and Jack Robirosa, consider there are sufficient grounds to begin the step-by-step process of applying for permission for Judicial Review of the Manston Airport Development Consent Order 2022 and have instructed barristers Richard Harwood OBE KC and Gethin Thomas, both of 39 Essex Chambers.
Each stage will need to be funded. The funding target may change but only to raise such sums as could reasonably be spent on this litigation.
Any residual funding from the first campaign will be carried over to support this new campaign for a Judicial Review of the Second Manston Development Consent Order.
I am enormously grateful to everyone who contributed to the first, successful challenge and convinced that it is both worthwhile and important to continue to challenge flawed decision making.
If you are able to, please consider donating to this fresh challenge.
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Sept. 22, 2023
Sadly the application for judicial review was not successful
While I am disappointed with the judge's decision today, this is not the end of the process. Judicial review proceedings are seldom straightforward and this one particularly so, given that this is thought to be the first redetermined Development Consent Order (DCO) considered by the courts.
Having already succeeded once in a judicial review against the Secretary of State's first decision to approve Manston Airport, we always knew it would be more difficult to succeed a second time round.
That is not because the economic case for Manston Airport has improved or because the climate change concerns have been resolved - quite the opposite in fact - but because the government was more careful the second time round to immunise its decision from judicial review. So far, that approach has worked.
However, I remain firmly of the view that the government's decision to proceed with Manston Airport, in the face of expert evidence to the contrary and in the context of the worsening climate crisis, is nonsensical, and the procedure followed by the Secretary of State was deeply flawed. The case raises significant issues relating to DCO redetermination processes, which will have an impact on how those cases are conducted in the future. I will therefore be appealing today's ruling.
Sept. 4, 2023
August used to be a month for silly stories but this year has seen no respite from continuous reports of havoc wreaked by war and climate change. Now it's September - the holidays are over, and politicians and press are taking up positions for the party conference season.
The front page of yesterday's Sunday Telegraph reported that the Prime Minister's "proportionate and pragmatic" approach to net zero would mean rejecting the advice of the Climate Change Committee that there should be no further airport expansion until the government had a plan for managing carbon emissions. The Comment page followed up with the headline "Sunak is finally standing up to the green Blob", heralding this as "good news for 'hard-pressed families looking forward to their annual foreign trip during this cost of living crisis." and claiming "the Climate Change Act creates endless opportunities for the Government's opponents to wage lawfare against it." The Guardian quickly responded with "Ignoring call to halt new airports would be 'electoral carnage' Sunak warned".
Clearly the Government doesn't do joined up thinking - or maybe it does... A recent report by the New Economics Foundation, Losing Altitude: The Economics of Air Transport in Great Britain, found that "broad access to international travel ... brings social benefits...however, the welfare case is undermined by the share of new capacity which is typically captured by a small and wealthy subset of the British population while, each year, around half of British residents do not fly at all. Furthermore, the welfare benefit must now be offset against welfare losses resulting from greater environmental damage..." These welfare losses affect all of us, whether we fly or not.
Thanet is an area with high levels of deprivation and a high incidence of respiratory illnesses often associated with poor air quality. At the beginning of August, Thanet District Council's Climate Change Advisory Group received a report on projected carbon emissions from a reopened Manston Airport, based on information made public by the developer, RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd. In simplistic terms, the report states that an area 4.5 times the size of Thanet would need to be planted with trees within the next five years to offset aircraft emissions forecast over a twenty-year period from the time the airport opens. Thanet, as a district, needs to halve its total emissions by 2030 to align with an agreed Kent County Council emissions reduction pathway. However, that reduction - and the benefits it would bring - would be almost wiped out by aircraft emissions from Manston in its second year of operation.
The Climate Change Committee describes the Climate Change Act 2008 as "the basis for the UK's approach to tackling and responding to climate change. It requires that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are reduced and that climate change risks are adapted to." We do not know when Mr Justice Dove will give his decision but one of the grounds for judicial review of the Manston Airport DCO was around climate change. This was not, as the Sunday Telegraph might suggest, about waging 'lawfare' but rather about fighting to stem, in the words of the Aviation Environment Federation, "welfare losses resulting from greater environmental damage".
Aug. 8, 2023
More questions than answers
Tuesday 3 July 2023 was the hottest day ever and last week saw the highest sea temperature ever recorded. Both events have been attributed to climate change caused by, or, at the very least, exacerbated by human activity.
In the week before our court hearing, the government's Climate Change Committee (CCC) issued its Progress Report 2023 which recommended that there should be no airport expansion until the government had a plan for managing carbon emissions.
On 17 July, the New Economics Foundation (NEF) released "Losing Altitude", a report on the economics of air transport in Great Britain. Both "Losing Altitude" and NEF's earlier report on the climate cost of airport expansion, "Turbulence Expected", published in May 2021, contain a similar recommendation to the CCC report.
This week Thanet District Council's Climate Change Advisory Group (CCAG) considered the council's updated Net Zero Strategy which recognises that: “The UK Government is responsible for the reduction of emissions from airports, ports and military transport. For example, the Government’s approach for achieving net zero aviation by 2050 is set out in their Jet Zero Strategy. TDC has no powers with regards to these emissions however we will keep a watching brief on Manston Airport’s adherence to their low emission plan.”
The CCAG went on to consider a report on RiverOak Strategic Partners' carbon reduction plan - a plan that raises more questions than it provides answers.
Although August is traditionally a month for light summer reading, each of these reports is well worth reading - here are the links:
July 7, 2023
The Morning After
The one and a half days scheduled for the hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice stretched to two days as barristers representing the Claimant (me), the Defendant (Secretary of State for Transport), and the Interested Party (RiverOak Strategic Partners), each put their case.
The judge made it clear that his decision might not ready until September or October. It is impossible to guess what that decision might be.
A director of RSP, in an interview for local radio this morning,, was confident the Secretary of State would appeal if the decision went against him. The other option open to the Secretary of State would be to accept the judgement and carry out a further consultation before remaking his decision. Alternatively, the Interested Party, could appeal.
If, however, the decision went in favour of the Secretary of State, it would be for me to consult my lawyers and decide whether there were sufficient grounds for appeal.
Judicial review is not for faint hearted!
July 4, 2023
Almost there - but not quite
In less than 24 hours I will be at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Reams of paper have been submitted. Tomorrow, Wednesday 5 July, my barrister, Richard Harwood KC, will present our case, then barristers for both the Secretary of State for Transport and RiverOak Strategic Partners will respond. The hearing will almost certainly continue on Thursday morning. The decision will follow in due course.
We may not have quite reached the CrowdJustice target but I am so very, very grateful to everyone who has made this court hearing possible by supporting this two-part campaign since its inception in July 2020.
June 28, 2023
Push Comes to Shove
A very sincere "Thank you!" to everyone who has supported this campaign from its beginnings in 2020.
The hearing is now a week away and the fund stands at just under 90% of the amount needed to pay legal bills and costs. Now is the time to donate to the current crowd funder if you've been thinking about getting round to it - or, if you are able, to make an additional contribution, no matter how small.
This judicial review will focus on just two areas, Need and Climate Change, making it very much in tune with the times and with the Climate Change Committee's 2023 Progress Report to Parliament released today.
In a summary of the report, the Guardian said:
"The committee warned that the UK could no longer expand any of its airports without closures or shrinking of capacity elsewhere but the government seems not to have accepted this."
The report recommends making the National Planning Policy Framework consistent with Net Zero and calls for "a suite of policy and technology options to address aviation demand" while stressing the need for a framework to manage airport capacity:
"There has been continued airport expansion in recent years, counter to our assessment that there should be no net airport expansion across the UK. No airport expansions should proceed until a UK-wide capacity management framework is in place to assess annually and, if required, control sector CO2 emissions and non-CO2 effects."
It is not too late for the Department for Transport to re-assess the decision to grant a Development Consent Order for the re-opening and development of the former Manston Airport.
In today's climate constrained world it makes no environmental or economic sense.
June 24, 2023
Wishful thinking - or blue sky thinking?
On a beautiful summer evening, a small group with a banner proclaiming "Why not Manston?" gathered at the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour's East Pier. The demonstration went largely unnoticed by guests on their way out along the harbour arm to a fundraising "Solstice Supper" in support of the judicial review.
The two groups hold diametrically opposed views, except in one respect. The protestors think those against re-opening the airport would prefer to see it used for housing. Not the case - and probably the only point on which we might agree.
On the other hand, supporters of the airport believe it will offer thousands of jobs, transform the economy of Thanet and that technological advances will negate the harmful impacts of aviation. We strongly disagree.
Aditya Chakraborty, writing in the Guardian yesterday, said, "Realism comes from facing who we are and dropping the pretence that a growth miracle is just around the corner." We strongly agree!
June 21, 2023
Barristers for both the Secretary of State for Transport and RSP have now submitted their skeleton arguments.
Skeleton arguments are, by their very nature, relatively short summaries, 25 pages or so, of what will be said at the hearing in two weeks' time. No surprises in the two latest documents. And no surprise that there are similarities between the two.
The hearing is two weeks away and there is just one more set of documents to be lodged, an agreed list of reading and a short chronology - no gripping bedtime read!
Today is the the Summer Solstice, the longest day and the turning point of the year. Fundraising continues and this evening some of my supporters are hosting a Solstice Supper in support of this campaign - hope to see at least some of you there!
June 14, 2023
Three weeks to go
Yesterday my barristers' skeleton argument was filed with the court. Next week it will be the turn of the Government Legal Department, for the Defendant, and the lawyers acting for the Interested Party.
It all seems very orderly but the process of judicial review is not a smooth, easily costed progression. It twists and turns so that estimates of cost are just that, estimates.
The application for judicial review of the first Manston DCO progressed fairly smoothly until the Secretary of State for Transport conceded and opened up the case up for further consultation - three rounds of further consultation. This meant additional work for my legal team as well as the need to employ experts to review and comment on the questions posed by the government. However, the balance of the monies raised was enough to kickstart this second application for judicial review.
Has it been straightforward since then? No. The government repeatedly refused to comply with legitimate requests for information. Belated disclosure of ministerial briefings raised a raft of new issues resulting in further work and a further application to the court to amend our grounds. Extra work inevitably means extra costs and plays havoc with fundraising targets.
Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics reported that the UK economy had grown 2% month on month from May. On the same day, it was reported that the costs of borrowing were up. The pressures of increasing costs of living are very real for most people. I am enormously grateful for the more than 3,000 donations made to this two-part campaign since the summer of 2020 but it isn't over yet and more donations are urgently needed to bring us closer to a successful conclusion. Can I ask you to consider making at least a small donation? And to tell others about this campaign?
All the money raised through this funding page is transferred to the solicitors' client account after CrowdJustice's fee has been deducted (see website). The solicitors keep careful records of what has been received and what has been spent. Harrison Grant Ring and the barristers at 39 Essex Chambers are very aware of the need to keep costs to a minimum and each stage of the legal process is agreed with me in advance. At no time do I have access to any of the funds raised.
June 7, 2023
The hearing is just four weeks away and we're into a tightly orchestrated period of preparation.
Yesterday, my solicitors lodged all relevant documents (the hearing bundle) with the court. Next week, the barristers will submit their skeleton argument to be followed a week later by arguments from both defendant and interested party. Finally, a week before the hearing, a list of issues, an agreed chronology, and an agreed list of essential reading will be submitted.
Taken together - thousands and thousands of words to be marshalled for the formal hearing which will start on Wednesday 5 July.
May 31, 2023
As May with its holidays and celebrations comes to an end, the time has come to really focus on fundraising.
The court hearing is just five weeks away. The barristers are about to file their skeleton argument - "a short overview of the areas of controversy", in the words of the Law Society. In this case, the areas of controversy can be summed up as Need and Climate Change.
Remember how, in 2019, a panel appointed by the Planning Inspectorate concluded that the applicant, "had failed to demonstrate sufficient need"? And how in 2022, the Independent Aviation Assessor appointed by the Secretary of State came to the same conclusion?
The Conservative Party has lost ground in the recent local elections - even in Thanet where they attempted to frame the contest as a vote for reopening Manston Airport. The developer claims to have the support of most local people. However, the outcome of the election, which saw Labour assume overall control of Thanet District Council for the first time since 2003, would seem to suggest that the majority agree with the Planning Inspectorate and the Independent Aviation Assessor - there is not sufficient need to justify the proposed development.
But now the push: there is just a short window of opportunity to complete the fundraising challenge and ensure the case against development will be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice.
May 26, 2023
Looking through the list of fundraising events planned in the lead up to the court hearing on 5 and 6 July, two things stand out.
How very generous people are with their time and talents. Thank you!
And how many simple pleasures would already have been lost if the development of the airport had gone ahead as planned; the quiet beauty of early summer, talking with friends, sharing a meal, listening to music, enjoying our natural environment. These are things worth fighting for.
(The Isle of Thanet News has published a preliminary list of events at IoTN)
May 12, 2023
Sense and Nonsense
Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't.
The Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland
Sometimes it seems we've achieved the Mad Hatter's vision but sometimes, just sometimes there are glimmers of sanity.
Without evidence, pro-airport groups consistently claim, a majority of local people want the former Manston Airport to re-open.
Both Thanet MPs attempted to turn the future of Manston into a campaign issue for the recent local elections. North Thanet Conservatives wanted to " Keep fighting to see Manston Airport re-open", while South Thanet Conservatives claimed," Vote Conservative - get our airport back."
And yet, on 4 May, the people of Thanet, voted for a majority Labour council which will focus on protecting our environment and building a thriving economy.
Angus Walker, solicitor for RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd, was quoted in an article for New Civil Engineer dated 14 February 2023. He was talking about plans to expand Heathrow Airport but it could equally well have been Manston when he said, "The likely impacts on net zero, noise, air quality and road congestion remain serious and although surface transport decarbonisation is advancing, so-called 'jet zero' is some way behind."
The article continued: [Heathrow] recently updated its ... plan for sustainable growth, although aviation experts have said it does not adequately factor in expansion emissions and relies too heavily on the development of negative emission technologies.
Local politicians may argue that technology will (one day) mitigate environmental damage incurred in pursuit of economic gain, but the local elections have shown that people in Thanet think differently.
In just under eight weeks, the argument returns to the Royal Courts of Justice. Reaching the target of £75,000 before the 5 July is challenging but achievable.
May 1, 2023
A lesson from history
"For the transport of coming years, Ramsgate Corporation, with courage and exceptional foresight, have provided Ramsgate with an Air port. Situated within easy reach of the town, indeed within easy reach of the three towns, Ramsgate Air Port is going to play a big part in the future of Thanet, and Ramsgate in particular."
Huddlestone, John Thanet 1937. 400 Facts And Curiosities of Ramsgate. Thanet Publicity Service, Ramsgate
In 1935, Ramsgate Corporation, forerunner of today's Ramsgate Town Council, took the bold step of investing in a civil airfield. It is now an industrial estate, employing more people than the airport ever did.
The University of Sheffield and the Institute of Historical Research have set up a pilot project to explore how today's policy makers can learn from history. The project's advisory council is chaired by Lord Blunkett who said,
"... I have always been puzzled by two things: the first was the way in which the same policy dilemmas kept popping-up on the agenda, the second was the paucity of historical evidence that policymakers seemed to have at their fingertips about what policy responses had been tried in the past and therefore ‘what worked’."
As local elections approach and the future of the last of Thanet's three airfields is being used as a campaign tactic, it would seem that neither local nor national politicians are willing to learn lessons from history.
April 21, 2023
Back in court
Back to the Royal Courts of Justice on 5-6 July for a 1.5 day hearing.
In the meantime, the funding target of £75k stands and will continue to roll forward at the end of each 30-day cycle.
April 20, 2023
A Real Challenge
As inflation remains high, and prices escalate, the need to raise a further £35k for Judicial Review of the Manston Airport DCO is not being made lightly.
We're waiting for the court to set a date for the hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice - not an easy thing to do when three different parties are represented. But this Government is in a hurry: it is seeking to abolish thousands of laws made by Europe, some initiated by Britain, and to curtail the power of Courts to challenge its rulings.
It seems likely that the hearing will be before the end of July - and before the start of the summer holidays. We need to reach the overall target of £75k before the hearing takes place - no easy task but achievable if we work together.
April 19, 2023
In a press conference on Tuesday 18 April 2023, following the settlement between Fox News and Dominion, Dominion attorney Justin Nelson spoke to the press.
“Truth matters,” he said. “Lies have consequences. The truth does not know red or blue,” he continued. “People across the political spectrum can and should disagree on issues, even of the most profound importance. But for our democracy to endure another 250 years and hopefully much longer, we must share a commitment to facts.”
April 15, 2023
Is this the future?
State-owned Amsterdam Schipol Airport, one of the busiest airports in Europe, has announced it is "going for quieter, cleaner and better" and is aiming to introduce a series of measures by 2025-2026 including no night flights, tighter standards and a stricter approach to noisier aircraft, and a ban on private jets and small business aviation. Plans for an additional runway will be dropped and, together with central government, an environmental fund will be created for the area with investment in innovative construction, home insulation and an improved living environment. Both unions and government have agreed the measures.
In France too, attitudes are changing: the transport minister has proposed a 70% increase in fuel tax for private jets, while the chief executive of Aéroports de Paris has admitted that demand growth has to slow, at least temporarily.
The future looks very different in the UK where the government acknowledges that it is opting for a highly ambitious strategy refusing to curb demand and pinning its hopes instead on the development of new technologies, including net zero aviation fuels and net zero airports by 2050. As the Royal Society points out in its report on Net zero aviation fuels, there is as yet no clear or single net zero alternative to jet fuel. It also points out that "politics and science frequently move on vastly different timescales". And the redevelopment of the former Manston Airport as a cargo hub has become increasingly politicised.
With local elections imminent, debate about the future of Manston has been reframed as blue v red by local politicians, MPs and prospective councillors, but many of their claims just can't be substantiated.
South Thanet Conservatives' election leaflet, promoted by the local MP, claims 'potential for 23,000 local jobs'.
This is simply not true RSP's own forecast is for a total of 23,235 jobs to be created by year 20. This figure includes both indirect and catalytic jobs ie jobs that aren't local.
RSP's own forecast is 3,417 direct jobs by year 20 but the Examining Authority (ExA) found that even this figure should be reduced to a more realistic 2,734, and pointed out that the development of Manston would inevitably mean the loss of jobs elsewhere in the UK. And, of course, if the airport closes, as has happened in the past, the real number of jobs is likely to be a fraction of that.
Ramsgate Town Council?
The same leaflet also claims, " Labour run Ramsgate Town Council spent £10,000 of local taxpayers' money to finance legal action to stop Manston from ever flying again." (Who knew airports could fly?) and continues "Your council tax was staked on legal fees to prevent the biggest investment and opportunity in Thanet's history."
Ramsgate Town Council's decision to spend £10,000 in support of a legal action to fight a proposal that would have a damaging effect on the town and its people was perfectly proper. Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 allows a local authority to incur expenditure which in their opinion is in the interests of, and will bring direct benefit to, their area or any part of it or all or some of its inhabitants.
The town council's offices and council chamber overlook Ramsgate's Royal Harbour and were directly under the flight path when Manston was an operational airport. The town council is well placed to understand the potential impact of an operational cargo hub, with planes flying less than 300m above Ramsgate's historic town centre, on the town's economy.
The Examining Authority plainly stated that the proposed development would adversely affect the tourism industry in Ramsgate and that "other UK coastal airports did not provide examples of airports with runways which were so closely located and oriented towards a coastal resort". The ExA report continued "The argument that the airport may bring tourism benefits to other parts of Thanet and East Kent and that this in some way mitigates any adverse effect on Ramsgate is likely to be of little comfort to the residents and tourist business holders of Ramsgate."
But there is more to Ramsgate than tourism and the government's own Indices of Multiple Deprivation show that areas directly under the flight path have actually improved since the airport closed in 2014: IoD
For those of us opposing redevelopment of the site as an airport, the argument has never been that it should instead be used for housing: that's the alternative promoted by local politicians, the developer and airport supporters. Yes, we can think of better uses but the site is currently safeguarded for airport related uses and any change would have to be considered as part of an early review of the Local Plan.
The Conservative's election leaflet also refers to 'the biggest investment and opportunity in Thanet's history".
In 2018, the cost of redeveloping Manston as a cargo hub with some passenger flights from year 3, was £300m. Economic changes now mean at least £500m needs to be raised from investors. It is not clear where this investment will be coming from. It is also no guarantee of success for an airport that is simply in the wrong place.
Twenty-five years ago, Manston was owned by Wiggins, a property developer with partners who had 'deep pockets'. The company embarked on a £1bn (equivalent to £2.5 billion today) redevelopment that was forecast to bring 10,000 jobs to the area.
The Wiggins Group became Planestation Group before collapsing into administration in 2005. Around 40% of the company's shares were owned by 44,000 private investors, many of whom lived close to Manston and bought shares as a way of demonstrating support for the airport. The promised jobs and financial returns did not materialise. The location of Manston Airport hasn't changed and there is nothing to suggest the result would be any different this time round.
March 31, 2023
It seems fitting that we lodged our amended Ground 2 - Climate Change, on the day when the government launched its new net zero growth plan, Powering Up Britain, and its Carbon Budget Delivery Plan.
Our climate change ground now focuses on how the Secretary of State:
(i) failed to reach a conclusion on the relevance of the sixth Carbon Budget, despite this being one of three questions he raised in the Statement of Matters. In so doing he failed to take account of something he was required to consider, acted irrationally in not determining the question he’d raised, or, if he did, failed to give adequate or intelligible reasons for the conclusion reached; and
(ii) unlawfully relied upon the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and the Jet Zero Strategy as the sole basis for reaching his ‘neutral’ conclusion on climate change, without considering the fact that these policies did not take account of any activity at Manston, and did not contain evidence capable of supporting his conclusion because these policies are aspirational, unspecified and unquantified in nature.”
If you want to learn about the government's new plan, here's the link: Powering Up Britain
And if you want to know what The Royal Society thinks about Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), the government's main strategy for reducing aviation emissions, here's the link to that: The Royal Society
March 24, 2023
Grounds for Judicial Review
Yesterday's hearing was argued on points of law, not on the merits of RSP's proposal. The defendant is the Secretary of State for Transport, not RSP.
Mrs Justice Lieven granted permission on:
· Ground 1(a) which is that it (1) was procedurally unfair to rely upon the Azimuth Report without having the underlying evidence or submitting that evidence to scrutiny by IPs (2) the reliance on the IBA report which the IPs were not afforded the opportunity to comment on.
· Ground 1(c) irrationality – i.e. that in determining whether there is a need for the development, the Defendant irrationally relied on qualitative, rather than quantitative evidence, despite having asked for quantitative need to be demonstrated in his Statement of Matters.
· Ground 1(d) which is there was an error of law as to treatment of potential growth at other airports; the minister erred in law because he was unlawfully advised in the briefing that the potential for growth at other airports was not a material consideration.
· Ground 2 – Mrs Justice Lieven granted permission to advance an amended version of the climate change ground.
March 23, 2023
Once again, permission has been granted for judicial review of a Manston Airport Development Consent Order!
March 22, 2023
Tomorrow my application for permission to apply for judicial review of the second Manston DCO will be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice.
I brought this case, with the support of thousands of people from Kent and beyond, because in today's climate constrained world, ploughing ahead with an airport (or cargo hub) for which there is no need and without taking into account its climate change impacts, is nonsensical.
The government's decision to press ahead with Manston Airport, against the advice of the experts, including the government's own advisors, risks irreparable harm to the people, economy, environment and heritage of the towns and villages of East Kent.
March 20, 2023
3 days ...
In just three days time, a judge will decide whether or not to grant permission for judicial review of the latest Manston Airport DCO.
It's perhaps worth pointing out that we are applying for permission to challenge a decision made by the Secretary of State for Transport in August 2022, on an application that was mostly prepared in 2017 for submission in 2018, using evidence dating back to 2016.
In other words, an application that relates back to a different world, a world that was pre-Making Best Use of Existing Runways, pre-Brexit, pre-pandemic, pre-Sixth Carbon Budget, pre-Net Zero Strategy, pre-Jet Zero Strategy.
March 16, 2023
One week to go
The renewal hearing in Royal Courts of Justice is just a week away.
Reams of documentation have been submitted but, for the first time in this campaign, it will be an oral hearing and not a purely paper-based decision-making process.
Whatever the outcome we will still need to keep fighting. Do we still need to fundraise? Yes!
March 13, 2023
Just 10 days until the renewal hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice when my legal team will again be asking for permission for judicial review of former minister Karl McCartney's decision to grant a second DCO for the redevelopment of Manston. The decision made no sense first time round and now makes even less sense as our understanding of climate change and its contributing factors grows!
Feb. 15, 2023
Renewal hearing - a date!
Our 2-hour renewal hearing is listed for Thursday 23 March 2023 at the Royal Courts of Justice.
If the hearing is decided in our favour, the case will proceed to judicial review. If the decision is not in our favour, we can apply to the Court of Appeal.
Feb. 15, 2023
Renewal hearing - getting closer
The court is asking for "mutually agreed" dates for a 2-hour hearing before the end of March.
Both the Government Legal Department and developers, RSP, will be represented.
Jan. 25, 2023
Application for an oral hearing
Contrary to rumours, our application for an oral hearing for permission to apply for judicial review has not been refused..
The High Court has confirmed that the hearing will be listed for 2 hours and has issued instructions on the contents of the bundle to be submitted electronically. We will be notified of the date for the hearing within the next 8 weeks.
Jan. 23, 2023
Jumping another hurdle
Commenting on the dispute over Scotland's new gender recognition bill, Guardian columnist Martin Kettle wrote "The worlds of politics and law are not neatly demarcated."
Last week we learned permission for judicial review had been refused by the Honourable Mr Justice Lane. This is not, however, the end of the road - just another hurdle. Today, we lodged an application for renewal of the claim for permission to apply for judicial review of the Manston Airport DCO.
We are confident that the grounds remain arguable and are asking for the decision to be reconsidered at a hearing in open court before a planning judge.
These grounds of claim are of significance to campaigners across the country and it matters that the process of decision making should be fair, transparent and based on all relevant information, not biased by political or personal interest. This is particularly the case, when the experts, including the independent examining authority and the government’s own advisers, have recognised that there is no need for Manston Airport. The economic case simply does not stack up. When the climate change impacts are taken into account, it becomes a no-brainer.
In the course of this second judicial review and after repeated requests for disclosure, we have learnt that the hundreds of responses to the three rounds of consultations that took place during the re-determination process were largely dismissed in a single sentence in a briefing to the minister on the basis that they either did not raise substantial new issues or were not considered “material”.
The government chose to focus instead on evidence that was based upon 24 unpublished, outdated interviews conducted in 2016.
It is for these reasons that I will continue to challenge this irrational decision before the courts and continue to ask for your support to help common sense prevail.
Dec. 22, 2022
End of year update
Almost the end of the year and still no decision on whether or not permission for judicial review of the second Manston DCO will be granted.
2022 has been 'interesting' and 2023 looks set to be another challenging year. By coincidence, the funding page will roll over for another 30 days on 1 January - a fresh start after the winter break!
Nov. 25, 2022
A bit of a challenge
How Much Can We Raise in Seven Days?
A decision on the application for judicial review of the second Manston Airport DCO is imminent.
If permission is granted, we will need to be ready to respond to the arguments of the government and RSP and to raise the considerable amount of money needed to prepare for a hearing in court.
After much persistence, our legal team has finally managed to obtain the ministerial briefings and have amended our grounds of challenge as a result.
However, despite this, permission could be refused. In which case we'd have just seven days to request an oral hearing - and that would cost. Can we raise £12k in time to ensure the challenge to the second Manston Airport DCO can go ahead?
RiverOak Strategic Partners' website claims "Manston is the right solution, in the right location, at the right time". Obviously, I don't agree but judicial review is about challenging the way a decision was made rather than the decision itself. And we argue this decision was legally flawed and irrational.
The Secretary of State (or the Minister acting in his place) relied on qualitative evidence from the original application, despite having asked for quantitative evidence of need and appointing an independent aviation assessor to advise on quantitative need in redetermining the application.
The Examining Authority had considered that same qualitative evidence and recommended that the application for development consent be refused; the independent aviation assessor upheld the Examining Authority's recommendation; the Secretary of State ignored the recommendations and granted the application.
Is there a justifiable need for a new cargo hub at Manston?
This is not a little local issue: aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change. Cargo planes tend to be older and dirtier than passenger planes and the sector will be slower to adapt to new, greener - and as yet untested - technologies.
After all the political turmoil this year and the mounting evidence of the impact of man-made climate change, it is more important than ever that our decision makers are held to account. Judicial review is a way for ordinary citizens to do just that but it only if we are prepared to act together. The response to my first appeal was incredible and together we raised almost £120k to challenge the first ever aviation Development Consent Order. We are all affected by current economic uncertainties, but can we still act together to secure a better future?
Nov. 19, 2022
Strengthening the Case
On 12 September, the Department for Transport was asked to disclose information on ministerial briefings relating to the decision to grant a second Manston DCO. In spite of repeated requests the information wasn't forthcoming until 1 November, just one day before papers had to be filed with the court - no time for any proper consideration.
On 3 November we requested additional information. This was received on 10 November but the initial delay has meant a lot of extra work for everyone involved - the legal team has been brilliant!
On 15 November, the court was asked to accept an amended Statement of Facts and Grounds to take account of the disclosures. Both defendants have objected, saying the amendments should not be accepted. But they would, wouldn't they?
Now it's just a matter of waiting for the judge to decide...
Oct. 28, 2022
Closely followed by...
For weeks - nothing. Then, suddenly, several things happen at once and the process grinds forward.
RiverOak Strategic Partners (the Interested Party) has now Acknowledged Service (of the Application for Judicial Review) and submitted Summary Grounds of Resistance. These, together with the Defendant's Summary Grounds of Defence, will be reviewed by my legal team.
The next significant stage will be when, in a few week's time, a single judge has to decide if there is an arguable case.
Oct. 27, 2022
All in one day
The Department for Transport has now confirmed it will be contesting the application for Judicial Review. No response so far from the Interested Party, RiverOak Strategic Partners.
Coincidentally, our local MP, Craig Mackinlay, presented a petition to the House of Commons yesterday, on behalf of 340 residents of South Thanet, calling on Ramsgate Town Council to accept the DfT's decision to grant a DCO for the re-development of Manston Airport. You can read the full text of his petition here: Mackinlay Petition
(South Thanet includes Sandwich, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and part of Margate - but not Manston.)
Sept. 29, 2022
An application was submitted earlier today (29 September 2022) for Permission for Judicial Review of the retaken decision to grant Development Consent (DCO) for the re-opening and re-development of the former Manston Airport.
The original campaign, challenging the granting of the first Development Consent Order, succeeded in getting that DCO quashed. The Secretary of State for Transport was then required to carry out further consultations before issuing a fresh decision on 18 August 2022. While not repeating all the errors in the first decision, this decision was also flawed.
The Government Legal Department, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport, now has 21 days to respond, setting out their grounds for resistance to which we, in turn, respond if necessary.
Usually, within the next three weeks a single judge will decided whether there is an arguable case. If permission is granted, the hearing should take place no later than six months after the claim was issued ie March 2023.
In the meantime fundraising has to continue. The current target will be updated and extended as the case progresses.
More than £119k was raised through CrowdJustice for the first campaign and what turned out to be a long and complicated case.. Additional contributions included other donations as well as costs awarded against the DfT. ( Costs were also awarded against the Interested Party, the developer RiverOak Strategic Partners, but so far they have declined to pay.) All this money was held in a client account and used to pay the solicitors, barristers and consultants, as well as for miscellaneous disbursements like court costs.
The small amount left was rolled over to help fund this second campaign but is not included in the total at the top of this page.
Sept. 23, 2022
On Thursday 22 September 2022, a Pre-Action Protocol letter (PAP letter) was sent to the Department for Transport in an attempt to resolve the matter without resorting to Judicial Review.
However, in expectation that the DfT won't agree, an application for Permission for Judicial Review is being prepared to meet the deadline for challenging to the Secretary of State's decision to grant a second DCO for the development of the former Manston Airport.
The SoS's decision was announced at the start of the holiday period. This has meant that the last few weeks have been a little like a relay race but the full legal team is now back together and confident of meeting next week's deadline!
Sept. 12, 2022
The first meeting with the team of two barristers and two solicitors today. We are proceeding carefully and later this week will be reviewing a draft statement of facts and grounds in support of an application for Judicial Review of the second Manston Airport Development Consent Order.
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