Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Manston Airport – Report “A recipe for delay and inaction”

North Thanet`s MP, Sir Roger Gale, has this (Tuesday) morning described as “a recipe for delay and inaction” the report commissioned by Thanet Council`s officers and relating to the future viability of Manston Airport. 

“It is not clear to me who the consultants spoke to or on what basis they have reached, in a matter of days, conclusions that seem to have been plucked out of the air.” says Sir Roger. 

“Had they spoken to those of us who have studied Manston over a period of time and in some detail they might have reached rather different conclusions.  As it is observations have been made that are in some cases factually flawed and appear designed to give comfort to those who want to kick Manston Airport into the long grass and deliver the housing and industrial estates that the present owner and some local politicians appear to want to achieve. 

Manston already has very considerable and powerful political support on a cross-party basis at national and local levels, has a commitment to improved rail links funded by the taxpayer, already has motorway links that appear to have been ignored, has massive local backing and has an operator ready, willing and able to buy and operate Manston as a freight hub and subsequent passenger airport. 

References to the need for “hundreds of millions of pounds of investment” and “a fifty-year business plan” smack of the views of those at County and local level who wish to deter a Compulsory Purchase Order and suggestions of discussion and negotiation with the present owner are, in the light of experience, I think  both naïve and risible. 

The Planning Minister indicated to me in terms that “back-to-back” Compulsory Purchase agreements are both commonplace and legal and I hope and expect that elected Thanet District Councillors, on both sides of the chamber, will continue to show the robust courage that they have demonstrated to date and, on Thursday, approve the pursuit of a Compulsory Purchase Order so that we can take Manston forward into a future as the viable airport that it ought and needs to be.”

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