War of words flares up over Manston night flights

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Manston Airport before it was closed in 2014

A war of words has flared up as the US investment firm attempting to acquire Manston Airport dispute claims made by a campaign group about the potential for night flights.

RiverOak Investment Corp has been trying to acquire the site since it closed in May 2014, and has been trying to use a development consent order to gain control, with the intention of turning Manston into a cargo hub capable of handling at least 10,000 air traffic movements per annum.

Campaign group No Night Flights claim supporters living under the flight path would be more affected by plans than when Manston was originally open, saying it will be “a noisy, polluting, over-developed space” that will do nothing for residents, the environment or future prosperity.

In response, RiverOak says the comments, published in a local newspaper contained “numerous inaccuracies”. RiverOak says Manston is not “undeveloped land”, it will protect Manston’s heritage and it used accepted methodology for assessing noise disturbance of 18 night flights, which do not relate to its plans for the airport.

The US firm says: “RiverOak understands that the reintroduction of airport operations is of concern to some residents and we remain committed to being absolutely transparent at every stage of the DCO process to enable the community in East Kent to make informed decisions on our proposals.”

“Indeed, it is for this reason that our environmental studies will be so thorough and will be published for consultation, along with all other aspects of our proposals, as soon as they are ready.”

In direct response to the claims about night flights, RiverOak says: “It is frustrating to see this method statement being so willfully misused, causing unnecessary alarm to some members of the local community.”

The No Night Flights released its own report accusing the answers from RiverOak’s public consultation meetings of being underwhelming or misleading.

It says: “RiverOak provided very little information to tell people about their plans and nothing at all to tell them what the impact of a cargo airport might be on the area. Most questions were answered with: “We are not at that point yet”.”

The group also says RiverOak answers gave a lack of clarity or were contradictory. It says RiverOak was unable to answer questions such as where the figure of 600,000 tonnes of freight came from, measures to compensate local residents, the number of jobs or if the airport was going to have night flights.