RSP’s ‘Fantasy Freight’ Plans Exposed As SHP unveil revised scheme

Stone Hill Park’s legal and aviation experts have fired a further detailed letter at RiverOak Strategic Partners’ (RSP) freight airport proposals for the former Manston Airport, providing further proof their scheme is nothing but a ‘fantasy.’

Last month Stone Hill Park submitted a 41-page dossier to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS), which set out why RSP’s DCO attempt is ‘unlawful’, concluding that RSP’s proposals fail the nationally significant threshold needed to advance any application.

Further evidence was sent this week to PINS, accompanied by an 80-page expert report by leading aviation consultants, York Aviation, that slams RSP’s proposals as ‘simply not credible’ and sets out further details about how RSP has previously misrepresented and incorrectly relied upon York Aviation’s work.

Stone Hill Park, meanwhile, continues to make progress with enhanced plans for the re-development of the former Manston Airport site, which will be consulted upon at public consultation events taking place next week.

The first public exhibition takes place on Monday, 20 November at the Holiday Inn Express, Tothill Street, Minster, Kent CT12 4AU followed by Pegwell Bay Hotel, 81 Pegwell Road, Ramsgate, CT11 0NJ the following day. Both events will run from 3pm until 8pm.

Trevor Cartner, co-owner, Stone Hill Park, said:

“SHP has an exciting new settlement scheme that will provide Manston with a new chapter in its long and cherished history; a chapter that would provide much needed homes and jobs for the district.

“Unlike the fantasy freight cargo hub plans from RSP, our proposals will honour Manston’s past as well as deliver real benefits for the people of Thanet.

“Meanwhile, the letter and report we have now submitted to the Planning Inspectorate amplifies what we have been saying all along, that RSP have been pulling the wool over the eyes of the public with a scheme that is ultimately undeliverable.

“RSP simply has no evidence base for their proposals. They need to accept that the time has now come for them to walk away and let us get on with delivering our scheme for the benefit of the people of Thanet.”

This further detailed correspondence by Stone Hill Park to PINS further exposes RSP’s proposals as a ‘Freight Fantasy’ and sets out how RSP is proceeding unlawfully and must withdraw their proposals. Key points from the letter and report, include the following:

1. Aviation evidence ‘incorrectly applied’

Azimuth Associates, acting on behalf of RSP, has heavily relied on work carried out by renowned aviation experts York Aviation in 2013 and 2015 to justify RSP’s freight forecasts.

York Aviation, appointed by Stone Hill Park to review Azimuth Associates’ aviation forecasts, has confirmed their work has been ‘misinterpreted’ with subsequent reports produced for RSP making erroneous judgements about these earlier reports as a basis for their demand forecasts.

2. York Aviation declare RSP’s proposals as ‘simply not credible’

York Aviation heavily criticises Azimuth’s attempted analysis of the air freight market, demonstrating that it has no substance. The forecasts also ignore the definitive official UK Department for Transport forecast for freighter movements over the period to 2050.

RSP claims that Manston can be catapulted in as the 5th largest UK freight airport in its first year of re-opening; a position that York Aviation in its report demonstrates totally lacks any credibility.

3. RSP’s plans do not qualify as a DCO

York Aviation has calculated that the current site is already capable of 21,000 plus take off and landings (known as air traffic movements). This is important as RSP has to increase that capability through its proposals by at least 10,000 take offs and landings for it to legally qualify as a DCO.

This is simply not credible as even on RSP’s own projections, only 17,171 movements are needed by 2040, well within the current capability of the site as an airport.

4. RSP’s Environmental Impact Assessment hugely understate the impact

RSP would need to demonstrate that the capability of Manston would rise from its current 21,000 to over 31,000 air cargo movements to qualify as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) but RSP has simply not assessed this impact nor explained to the public what this ‘new’ capability would mean.

RSP has also not assessed the impact its proposals would have for housing delivery in the area, as the RSP proposals would result in the loss of a major strategic housing site accounting for 14% of housing supply planned in Thanet for the period up to 2031.

This will mean nearly 4,000 new homes needing to be found on nearly 20 new greenfield sites across Thanet including near Monkton, Minster-in-Thanet, Cliffsend, Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Westwood and Margate.

RSP has also not complied with the most recent legal regulations for Environmental Impact Assessments, which came into force in May 2017 and is incorrectly trying to rely on an earlier version of the regulations.

In summary, RSP is blatantly failing to carry out proper assessment of its proposals to avoid complying with tougher environmental protection laws.

  • To view our latest letter to the Planning Inspectorate and York Aviation’s report, visit our DCO documents section.