Manston Airport DCO Quashed

The grant of a development consent order approving the re-opening of Manston Airport, on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, as a dedicated freight airport, has been quashed pursuant to a consent order, approved by Holgate J last week. The Secretary of State has conceded a judicial review claim brought by Jenny Dawes, a local resident who participated in the examination. Paul Stinchcombe QC, Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas act on her behalf, and are instructed by Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant LLP. Gethin had also previously acted on behalf of local resident objectors pro bono through the Environmental Law Foundation.

The claim contended that: (i) the Secretary of State's analysis of the need for the development was flawed, (ii) the decision was inadequately reasoned, (iii) the Secretary of State breached procedural safeguards prescribed in the Infrastructure Planning (Examination Procedure) Rules, and (iv) that the Secretary of State failed to discharge his duty to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 100% lower than the 1990 baseline ("Net Zero"), under section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008. Lang J granted permission in respect of all grounds on 14 October 2020. The claim had been listed for a 1.5 day hearing on 16 and 17 February 2021.

However, the Secretary of State conceded that the grant of the DCO was unlawful, and must be quashed, on the basis that his decision was inadequately reasoned. The Interested Party, the developer, therefore did not contest the claim.

In granting approval of the re-opening of the airport in July, the Secretary of State had overturned the recommendation of the Examining Authority to refuse development consent. This decision will now be revisited, with an invitation for further representations to be issued by the Secretary of State in due course.

This is a significant victory for Jenny Dawes, and the local campaigners who worked with Jenny, and supported the claim.

Manston Airport is the first ever proposed airport development to go through the DCO examination process, and the claim was the first challenge to an airport DCO. It is understood that the DCO is the first grant of consent for a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project to be quashed since the introduction of the Planning Act 2008.