Efforts to revive the southeast UK’s Manston airport have been boosted by a court ruling dismissing an attempt to quash government approval for the development.

The scheme has been the subject of a legal battle after the government granted development consent to the project in 2020.

This government decision was controversial because it went against a formal examining authority recommendation not to allow the development.

Campaigners against the airport managed to overturn the consent order in February 2021, only for the government to grant renewed consent in August last year.

While the UK’s High Court had indicated in January 2023 that a second judicial review of the consent order would be refused, campaigners managed to obtain permission in March.

But on 22 September a judge dismissed the application to quash the government’s approval of the Manston airport initiative.

Manston airport-c-GoogleEarth

Source: Google Maps

Manston would re-open as a freight hub under the RiverOak plan

“This is a highly significant and positive development towards our aim of turning Manston into a state of-the-art air freight hub,” says the project’s developer, RiverOak Strategic Partners.

But campaigner Jenny Dawes, who has been spearheading the legal effort to block the airport’s resurrection, says the ruling will be appealed.

“This is not the end of the process,” she insists. “Judicial review proceedings are seldom straightforward and this one particularly so.”

She says that the successful overturning of the initial development consent meant the government would be better-prepared, and “more careful the second time around to immunise its decision from judicial review”.

“So far, that approach has worked,” adds Dawes. “However, I remain firmly of the view that the government’s decision to proceed with Manston airport – in the face of expert evidence to the contrary and in the context of the worsening climate crisis – is nonsensical.”