Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Strategic Need for Manston Airport

Rochester Airport
Yesterday, I received a copy of Riveroak Investment's submission to the Davies Commission on the ''Utilisation of the UK's existing airport capacity.'

In the document, Riveroak develops its argument, that 'Manston airport can be re-opened as a successful Sky Port and Integrated Aviation Services Hub' and if you happen to be one of the many thousands of people in Thanet, who still believe in the airport's future, despite the efforts of Mrs Gloag to create the perfect conditions for a giant housing estate, the argument is attractive, if not compelling.

There will of course be many readers of this weblog, who will take a quite contrary view and I rather hope, given the experience of the last twelve months, I won't have the police knocking-on-my-door all over again, because someone feels offended by anything they may read here.

Ultimately, this is a decision for the Council but I do fear that any notion of swift progress has been somewhat kicked into the long grass by the council officers and the grass around our closed airport grows longer with every day that passes.

Meanwhile, Rochester airport is getting a new hard runway in exchange for sacrificing part of the existing RW34 grass area for housing. While it's not anywhere near the size of Manston, the economic value of a small and busy airport to the local community has been recognised and last month, a specialist flying school was launched for ab-initio, Chinese pilots. These will be coming all the way from China to learn to fly here, where the standards of training and tuition are recognised as among the highest in the world. Perhaps this also reflects a lost opportunity for Manston, along with the air sea rescue hub we were promised last year?

That's it for now. I have to traipse into Margate to get yet another waste food bin from the Gateway. Someone has taken to stealing mine, waste food included, over the last two collections and quite why, I can't fathom. Perhaps there's a roaring black market in Thanet Council brown bins, somewhere in eastern-Europe or perhaps the foxes have become rather more clever of late? If you find mine, can I have it back please? It's labelled.


Michael Child said...

Simon I am sure your understanding of ITC is much better than mine, I have searched the internet in an endeavour to find any verifiable connection between RiverOak and aviation – something I am sure the American media would have noticed – and frankly I can’t find anything at all. Is there any chance you could help me out on this one.

My concern is that there is just tiniest outside chance that RiverOak may in fact be what they say on their website, i.e. real estate investment bankers with a good history of financing housing, private medical centres and shopping centres and that their motives in acquiring the site could be related to $1b price tag on the value of the site as developed housing.

Simon Moores said...

Michael I have no idea I'm afraid and the due diligence effort is something that the Council will obviously pay some attention to. I'm a little pre-occupied with work at present.

Michael Child said...

Simon I am/was endeavouring to contribute some comment to you blog to encourage you to stick with it after your absence and had assumed your unbounded trust in investment bankers at least equalled my own. You don’t think that an American investment banking firm’s lawyers would be a match for our own dear council’s legal team then?

Simon Moores said...

It's like the Premier League Michael and Thanet only fields the very best players although I'm relieved to say that none of them bite that I know of!

Michael Child said...

Yes Simon I had heard that TDC’s lawyer had gone a long way.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is fair to blame council officers for not making more rapid progress on the CPO. As Ann Gloag said, the whole process of a CPO is complicated and carries a high degree of financial risk. Given the financial cock-ups made by TDC in recent years I am not keen to see any more. The CPO could only go ahead if there were no risk to the council and this requires painstaking consideration of what the future might bring. Riveroak can promise whatever they want, but you can't rely on promises when such huge sums are involved.

Anonymous said...

There is an easy way round this. The thousands who support Manston and have full confidence in its success can invest all their hard earned in a trust for a bone fide airport operator to manage the airport once purchased. For this though, you need a seller. And lots of money. And the ability to make success where others have failed for 20 years.

Anonymous said...

We are in agreement. The petitions which were submitted to the council called for a compulsory purchase order and asked the council to look into the possibility of issuing a bond to fund it. Nobody (except Sir Roger) asked them to go looking for an indemnity partner. The only problem I can see is that the petitions were not valid and there were probably less than 2000 valid signatures between them. In other words, there are far fewer campaigners than has been claimed and only a small fraction are actively engaged. However, this doesn't matter because you are free to allow people living anywhere to buy a stake in the airport.

Anonymous said...

In an MSN dot com poll today with so far only 7141 votes these were the results

How should the government increase airport capacity in the south east?

14 %

Expand Heathrow
983 votes

12 %

Expand Gatwick
895 votes

30 %

Expand an airport outside London
2,163 votes

23 %

Build a new airport in the Thames estuary ('Boris Island')
1,611 votes

21 %

Don't expand airport capacity
1,489 votes