Support Judicial Review of SECOND Manston Airport DCO

by Jenny Dawes

Support Judicial Review of SECOND Manston Airport DCO

by Jenny Dawes
Jenny Dawes
Case Owner
I live in Ramsgate and care about the town, its people and its future. I couldn't do this without the support and encouragement of scores of remarkable Ramsgate residents and hundreds of donors.
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Jenny Dawes
Case Owner
I live in Ramsgate and care about the town, its people and its future. I couldn't do this without the support and encouragement of scores of remarkable Ramsgate residents and hundreds of donors.
Pledge now

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Latest: March 22, 2023

1 day...

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…

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

What next?

My legal team of Kate Harrison, 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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Update 16

Jenny Dawes

March 22, 2023

1 day...

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.

Update 15

Jenny Dawes

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.

Update 14

Jenny Dawes

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!

Update 13

Jenny Dawes

March 13, 2023

Ten days!

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!

Update 12

Jenny Dawes

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.

Update 11

Jenny Dawes

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.

Update 10

Jenny Dawes

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.

Update 9

Jenny Dawes

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.

Update 8

Jenny Dawes

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!

Update 7

Jenny Dawes

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?

Update 6

Jenny Dawes

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... 

Update 5

Jenny Dawes

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.  

Update 4

Jenny Dawes

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.)

Update 3

Jenny Dawes

Sept. 29, 2022

It's in!


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.

What next?

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. 

Update 2

Jenny Dawes

Sept. 23, 2022

We're off!

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!

Update 1

Jenny Dawes

Sept. 12, 2022

Small Steps...

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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