UK Greens approved the High Court of England’s decision to maintain the Manston Airport closed on February the 15th 2021. This ruling is unprecedented as never before had a court of England ruled against a government Development Consent Order.
It was announced last year that the small airport would be changed into a global freight hub. The Secretary of State of Transport approved the project in 2020. Once a key base during WW2, the airport has been steadily declining. Now, the airport has become a parking lot for trucks waiting to cross the English Channel. The airport is located in southeastern England, in the district of Kent, and purchased by RiverOak Strategy Partners in 2019. RiverOak Strategy received the go-ahead in 2020 from the Secretary of State for Transport to start the project.
The investments for the airport amount to over 300 million pounds. The project will create over 23,000 jobs, as well as handling over ten thousand cargo movements.
A Project not well received by Greens
Many applauded the project when it was first approved. Director of RiverOak Strategy Partners Tony Freudmann had this to say about the project: “Once built, Manston will be one of the most modern, efficient, and environmentally-friendly freight hubs in the world … We can now focus on investing in Thanet and East Kent, creating jobs and inspiring new generations through our active support for training, education and careers advice for all age groups.”
However, many opposed this project. A local campaign, No Night Flight Group, has been working to prevent cargo flights from occurring in Thanet county since 2009. Strongly opposing the project, spokesperson Anne Marie Nixey qualified the project as a “blight on the area“.
Green Party member Natalie Bennet responded to the court’s decision. She stated that the Green Party welcomed the decision. She also stated that the Green Party is aware that this is not the end of the matter. Natalie Bennet commented on the situation:
There is simply no excuse for reopening old airports in a climate emergency. Yet time and again, from opening new coal mines to building new roads, this government shows that, despite talking of a green recovery, it does not care about its own climate commitments “Natalie Bennet, Green Party Member
The UK government has repeatedly been criticized for not following their commitments towards their net-zero target. The West Cumbria mining project generated a lot of criticism in that regard only a few weeks ago. Members of the Green Party view these actions from the government as harmful. The UK will host the United Nations Climate Change summit this year, known as the COP26. The Green Party fears the continuous nonchalance towards climate change will damage the UK’s credibility during the summit.
Lack of adequate reasons for the go-ahead
Following the court’s decision, RiverOak Strategy released a statement. It explained that the ruling of stopping the project does not reverse plans for the new airport. The statement delineates that the court’s decision was based on the lack of reasoning given by the Secretary of State. RiverOak is confident that the decision will be re-taken in their favor once the Secretary of State details his reasoning.