Manston Airport CPO rejected again

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Manston Airport before it was closed in 2014

Manston Airport will not be subjected to a compulsory purchase order (CPO) after Thanet District Council rejected the plans, saying plans by the indemnity partner, RiverOak Investment was insufficient.

The council had deferred the decision to carry out the CPO in December 2014, but when the UK Independence Party (UKIP) took control of TDC in May 2015, it had pledged to reopen the airport.

TDC had been unhappy with RiverOak, which had set up a company, RiverOak Aviation Associates to manage the project, as the council says it was only fund the CPO, not the purchase of the land or development of the airport with funds coming from private investors.

The council says: “From the documentation so far provided to the council by RiverOak it appears that those investors will not be investing until after the confirmation of the CPO by the Secretary of State, which would be after any inquiry conducted by a planning inspector.”

TDC says it will not continue with the CPO having taken legal advice. It says: “There remains the lack of evidence that financial resources are in place or proposed to be in place to acquire the land prior to the confirmation of the CPO despite the fact that the council is oblige to attempt to purchase the land by negotiation in parallel with the CPO process.”

The council also says: “There is insufficient evidence currently available for the Cabinet to be satisfied that a proposed CPO is likely to be successful which would justify its entering into an indemnity agreement.”

TDC also says: “There is good reason to consider the principle of the CPO alongside the decision to enter an indemnity agreement.”

In May, after UKIP took control of the council, leader of UKIP in TDC, Chris Wells told Air Cargo Week: “I want Manston reopened as soon as possible. UKIP supports the concept of the CPO. I believe the judgement made by the previous [Labour TDC] administrations was flawed.”

Since then, there have been disagreements between TDC and RiverOak about the CPO, with RiverOak publicly releasing emails to show the differences of opinion between the two parties. Wells emailed RiverOak Aviation Associates chief executive officer, George Yerrall eight points concerning the CPO, including issues of funding. In response, Yerrall replied: “I find you list of eight issues to be completely without merit and nothing more than another attempt to inexplicably throw one road block after another in front of us in order for you to carry out whatever your real agenda might be.”