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KCC statement calls for Manston airport ‘Plan B’

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The county council says airport operators have lost a total of £100million in the past 16 years

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KENT County Council defended its position on the future of Manston airport, suggesting it is now time to look at a “Plan B” for the site.

In a 15-page “position statement” released yesterday (Monday), the county council said it had given airport operators more than £1million in financial assistance

The report also said owners have lost a total of £100million since commercial flights began at the former RAF base 16 years ago.

The statement read: “Kent County Council gave strong support to various investors but the reality of commercial aviation at Manston Airport led to very significant losses.

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“The objective now must therefore be to make sure that we have owners who want to do exciting things on the site and that the land is not left abandoned.

“Surely it is now time to look at a B Plan for Manston.

“The driver must be to seize the best opportunity to create a significant number of new jobs and bring prosperity into East Kent.”

The Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into small airports criticised KCC last month for “failing to support Thanet council” in its efforts to reopen Manston.

Stagecoach bus tycoon Ann Gloag closed Manston last May, axing 150 workers in the process. The airport had been losing a reported £10,000 per day.

Current owners, Discover Park bosses Chris Musgrave and Trevor Cartner, acquired a majority stake in the site in September.

Mr Musgrave and Mr Cartner say they will oversee a £1 billion redevelopment of the former airport, aiming to provide 4,000 jobs across a mixed use development.

The KCC statement highlighted the businessmen’s previous work at the Wynyard Park development in Teeside and Discovery Park in Sandwich, which it said had created a total of 3,700 jobs.

The report claimed RiverOak, the firm proposing to acquire Manston and return aviation to the site through a compulsory purchase with Thanet council, refused to let KCC see its business plan.

The Department for Transport appointed PwC were appointed last week to review decisions taken so far on the future of Manston Airport. A report to the department is expected in May.

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