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High Court gives green light to judicial review challenge over Kent airport consent

A High Court judge has granted campaigner Jenny Dawes permission to bring a judicial review challenge over the Government’s granting of a development consent order (DCO) for Manston Airport in Kent.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps gave permission for Manston to become an air freight hub, overturning the recommendation of the examining inspector appointed under the national infrastructure planning system.

In his decision letter, the minister said that despite the inspector’s conclusion that the airport should not reopen on environmental grounds, he disagreed because “there is a clear case of need for the development which existing airports…able to handle freight would not bring about to the same extent or at all”.

He also said socio-economic benefits would flow from the development to the locality and it would “support the government’s policy objective to make the UK one of the best-connected countries in the world and for the aviation sector to make a significant contribution to economic growth of the UK”.

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Ms Dawes said the High Court had imposed a cost limiting order cap limiting the amount she would have to pay towards the Secretary of State's and RiverOak Strategic Partners’ (RSP's) combined costs, in the event that she lost the case, to £5,000. 

If the SoS and RSP lose, the amount they will have to pay towards her costs has been limited to £35,000 each - a total of £70,000.

Via Crowd Justice Ms Dawes has received £85,268 in pledges towards her stretch target of £120,000 for the case. Her legal team at law firm Harrison Grant have instructed Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas of 39 Essex Chambers on the claim.

RiverOak Strategic Partners, which obtained the DCO, tweeted: “RSP is disappointed that the decision to allow the judicial review process to proceed will result in further delay to our project to revive #Manston Airport, which has the potential to create hundreds of construction jobs locally by the second part of next year.

“We have mobilised a full legal team and will be responding, in full, to the terms of the direction handed down by the High Court..... We and our investors remain fully committed to the #Manston project, which will be needed more than ever to support UK global trade... both following the completion of the #Brexit transition period on 31 December and as we seek to rebuild the economy following #COVID-19.”

Manston was a World War 2 airfield but its remote location in the extreme east of Kent has thwarted several previous attempts to use it for passenger flights, none of which proved viable.

It was closed in May 2015 and since then there have been a series of disputes over whether it should reopen for aviation or be used as a science park.

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