Campaigners hoping to see Manston Airport in Kent reopened have been in Westminster today, as MPs listened to evidence for restoring the runway for aircraft. The Airport closed in May 2014, amid fears that the site would be used for housing or commercial development. But many locals - including the MP - have never given up the fight to make the airport a commercial success. Our Political Correspondent Phil Hornby sent this roundup.
The future of Manston Airport to be discussed by MPs at the House of Commons this afternoon. The site closed in May 2014 with the loss of around 150 jobs.
The discussions are part of the Transport Select Committee's evidence sessions for its smaller airports inquiry. The witnesses due to speak include representatives of Kent Airport Ltd, RiverOak Investment Corp, Thanet District Council and Kent County Council.
Members of the Save Manston pressure group are also in London to make their voices heard.
Campaigners fighting to reopen Manston Airport have suffered a further set back. The Cabinet committee on Thanet District Council has tonight voted to take no further action on the airport at the present time. It had been hoped the council would compulsory purchase the site - which closed last Spring. It has now been sold to developers who plan to use the area for manufacturing and housing.
“RiverOak Investments is surprised and disappointed at the recommendations being made by Thanet District Council to its councillors not to proceed with the compulsory purchase of Manston Airport in Kent.
We believe that the council is making a very serious error of judgement not only in respect of the economy of Thanet and East Kent, but also in respect of runway capacity in the South East of England. We were further surprised that in Thanet District Council’s press release it would appear that the Council has already decided the CPO issue in advance of the Cabinet meeting we understood was to occur next week.
Over the last few months we believe we have delivered to the Council all the relevant paperwork and information that they have asked for, and throughout we have stood by our commitment to cover all the costs of the CPO.
We will take time to read the report, study its implications and formulate the appropriate response, but I would like to reiterate that our plan costs the taxpayer nothing and yet it preserves a strategically important piece of transport infrastructure and returns it to productive economic use.”
We spoke to Laura Sandys MP, who represents Thanet South.
Cabinet Members are to consider a report next week (Thursday 11 December) which recommends that no further action be taken at the present time on a compulsory purchase of Manston Airport.
The recommendation follows a soft-market testing exercise carried out by the council which failed to identify a suitable indemnity partner - a third party who would cover all the costs of a CPO.
Without the finances to pursue a CPO in its own right, the council has been clear that compulsory purchase of the airport could only be considered if there was an appropriate financial partner.
A potential indemnity partner needed to provide assurance that if a decision was made to pursue a CPO, a viable airport could come into sustainable long-term operation as quickly as reasonably possible – without any residual cost to the council. As such the council needed to identify a partner who could cover the costs of both purchasing the site and completing the development.
As part of the soft market testing exercise, the council has not identified any suitable expressions of interest that fulfil the requirements of the council for a CPO indemnity partner.
Protesters who are fighting against the re-development of Manston airport will present a petition ahead of a full council meeting this evening. Nearly 8 thousand people have signed the 'No to Houses Petition'. The airport closed in May.
Interview with Cllr Iris Johnston, Leader of Thanet council on the Manston sale.
Reaction from campaigners who still want to see an airport at Manston - and from those who support the new plans. We speak to Dan Rivers from Save Manston; MP Sir Roger Gale, Susan Kennedy from Manston Pickle and Thanet council leader Iris Johnston.
Regeneration specialists Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave have bought the former Manston Airport site. Our report is from Sarah Saunders,