With potential now, given Sajiv Javid’s recent letter to TDC (see previous blog post), for KCC to play a role in getting a Local Plan for Thanet approved, many are asking about KCC’s view.
Over the years, the Conservative-run KCC supported the development of Manston as an airport believing that it could be a major contributor to the East Kent and wider economy. Facts, evidence and circumstance changed their mind. In 2015, this was Paul Carter, Leader of the Council, on the changed view at the end of a damning report on both the failure of Manston over the years and the prospects of RSP, particularly when set against the owners’ record. The full report can be found here.
“The truth is that Manston has failed over a prolonged period of time to run as a commercially successful airport. Kent County Council gave strong support to various investors but the reality of commercial aviation at Manston Airport led to very significant losses. In fact, in the 16 years since it was taken into privately ownership it has incurred losses by those who have tried to operate it in excess of £100 million.
The objective now must therefore be to make sure that we have owners who want to do exciting things on the site and that the land is not left abandoned. Bristow Group had chosen Manston as its location for the regional search and rescue base; when the airport closed the company decided to locate that base at Lydd. Kent County Council is pleased that this vital service will still be located in Kent. Lydd Airport is also starting a substantial investment programme to extend its runway and construct new aviation facilities.
Surely it is now time to look at a B Plan for Manston. The driver must be to seize the best opportunity to create a significant number of new jobs and bring prosperity into East Kent. RiverOak has not managed to convince Thanet District Council that there is a viable business plan. We believe the new owners have got a credible plan and the financial ability to create substantial numbers of new jobs which will bring prosperity and economic growth to East Kent.”
No Night Flights repeatedly, over the years, sought to produce evidence to help change the minds of Paul Carter and others at KCC. Given overwhelming evidence and conversations with owners’ Infratil and Ann Gloag following the demise of the airport, Carter and the administration at KCC became convinced that there was no viable aviation option at Manston, that there were no viable operators with viable plans, that the owners had credible alternative plans and that the economies and communities in Thanet, East Kent and wider Kent deserved real investment and real regeneration.
Makes sense to us.