Manston DCO decision postponed to May –…

Manston DCO decision postponed to May – but would be the first since the Appeal Court ruling on climate impact
2020-03-12 19:56:00
Though it has not had much publicity outside east Kent, the application to turn Manston  (which has been closed as an airport since May 2014) into a freight airport could be an important case. It was the first airport to have to take its plans through the DCO (Development Consent Order) process, dependant on the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). Manston is a crazy place to have a freight airport, being at the north eastern tip of Kent, miles from anywhere. It always failed as an airport in the past, largely due to its location. The Heathrow runway has been blocked by the Court of Appeal, which ruled (27th March)  the ANPS is illegal, as it did not take carbon emissions into account properly. That has implications for Manston’s plans. Already before the Court judgment, the Manston DCO had been delayed from 18th January, to 18th May.  The initial DCO application had nothing on carbon emissions. Something was finally added, because of pressure from local campaigners. Now lawyers say the decision about Manston’s DCO could have implications for other airport DCOs in future including Gatwick and Luton, as well as Heathrow. .Tweet   HIDING IN PLANE SIGHT – MANSTON: THE AIRPORT EXPANSION STORY NO-ONE IS TALKING ABOUT … AND WHY, PERHAPS, THEY SHOULD By Emma Montlake (Environmental Law Foundation, ELF) 11.3.2020 While Heathrow Airport Ltd ponders its next move in light of the historic judgment of 27 February 2020, the first big test of the Government’s resolve as regards airport expansion in light of the Paris Agreement – and NetZero – is already deep into its final stages. A decision is due on the UK’s first ever airport Development Consent Order (DCO) on 18 May 2020. This follows an announcement earlier this year – with very little fanfare – from the Department for Transport of a delay in the Development Consent Order (DCO) decision on Manston Airport, with plans to turn the current lorry park and former airfield into a new dedicated air cargo hub. As this is the UK’s first ever airport DCO – the process which the Planning Act 2008 sets out for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) – decisions made for the Manston DCO could have implications for other airport NSIPs to follow, including Gatwick, Luton and – yes – Heathrow. Response from the media and even airport expansion and environmental campaigners has been muted.  In a list of 21 airport expansion schemes around the UK highlighted by Extinction Rebellion’s call-to-action on Twitter, posted 48 hours after the DfT announcement, the plans to develop Manston were completely ignored and not included in the list. Nor was it featured in Carbon Brief’s recent study of UK airports currently seeking to expand. This is as surprising as it is concerning – and not just for the locals who have fought an extraordinary campaign against the developer’s proposals. Buried at number 22 of the 30 issues where the Secretary of State is seeking further clarification before deciding on the Manston DCO, there’s the small matter of climate change. Specifically, whether the carbon emissions contribution from the airport development – proposed somewhat fancifully as “Nationally Significant” – might impact on the UK’s commitment to meet Net Zero emissions by 2050. Crucially, when the High Court initially found in favour of the Government against campaigners who launched a judicial review of the Airports National Policy Statement and Heathrow’s third runway on climate change grounds, paragraph 648 of the May 2019 judgment ruled that “at the DCO stage this issue will be re-visited on the basis of the then up-to-date scientific position”. The February 2020 Court of Appeal judgment does not change this – in fact, it asserts at para 275 that “it is incumbent on the Government to approach the decision-making in accordance with the law at each stage”, (our emphasis), “not only in the current review of the ANPS or at a future development consent stage”. Whilst there is much to celebrate in the Court of Appeal judgment of 27 February, the conclusion of the Lords Justice was very clear at para 285 that “we have not decided, and could not decide, that there could be no third runway at Heathrow”. In essence, the recent judgment has removed – pending review – policy support for Heathrow, but DCO applications will still continue. In this respect, the DCO examination process remains our last line of defence, (judicial reviews on the Secretary of State’s


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