Manston is nowhere near as simple in planning terms as other airports.
The absence of an overall planning consent and environmental impact assessment mean that there are unique circumstances which significantly change the legal landscape. Manston cannot apply for planning permission for night-flights on their own. They have to apply for planning permission for the whole airport.
The whole planning status of the airport was left in limbo after the Appeal Court hearing, pending a major change in activity at the airport. Clearly, this is the major change – the time when the whole planning issue of the airport must be sorted out properly.
This is not a situation where pre-existing planning permission is being stretched beyond breaking point. Manston has never had planning permission and the court made it absolutely clear that it was the Council’s responsibility to ensure that expansion of the airport was dealt with through the planning system. The question becomes – “if not now, when?”.
TDC cannot choose whether or not to decide that this requires planning permission.
It is not a judgement call for them to make – it is clear that planning permission is required for the airport (and has been for some time, as a result of cumulative development).
Nor is this something that TDC can choose, or not, to recognise – if they fail to act, they will face legal action leading to a judicial review, and will be compelled to act.