Manston Airport is an old RAF airfield on the eastern tip of Kent which, when run as an airport, loses up to £10,000 a day. It has been bought by developers with the intention of converting it into a mixed use business and residential park. Well that all seems reasonable enough, so why are we still talking about it?
The Manston Airport saga has been dragging on for far too long. Under mounting pressure from the public, culminating in a 2014 ePetition signed by 3361 people, the local council were considering issuing a compulsory purchase order (CPO) of Manston Airport. The airport has received financial assistance from Kent County Council in the past, with taxpayer aid totalling £1 million, not to mention the £100 million that it has lost its various owners since it was sold by the RAF 16 years ago.
In spite of this, the speculation has not been put to delaying the £1 billion redevelopment project. This is partially due to the Transport Ministry’s decision to review the process behind Thanet District Council’s decision not to go for a compulsory purchase order through an independent consultant. These delays have allowed the debate to be reignited. There are even plans to use the site as a temporary alternative to Operation Stack- the name given to a queuing system for lorries waiting to cross the Channel on closed sections of the M20 - which has become a growing problem in recent months due to strikes in Calais.
Ray Mallon, spokesman for the owners of Stone Hill Park (the new name of the airport site), criticised the proposed compulsory purchase order, arguing the plans "do not stack up and could cost tax payers millions" and “just because there is a debate going on about the future of the site as a whole doesn’t mean we should sit and do nothing.” The TaxPayers’ Alliance seconds Mallon’s comments: councils should not be risking tax payers’ money on an airport that has never turned a profit and shows no likelihood of doing so in the future. We encourage them to put speculation to bed once and for all, and in doing so, stop wasting time, money and delaying the lucrative redevelopment.