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Natural England and Met Office voice doubts about Kent airport upgrade

kent airport

Natural England and the Met Office have both raised concerns about plans to reopen and upgrade Manston Airport in Kent.

While Natural England raised environmental concerns during the public consultation period, the Met Office is worried about being displaced from its weather station located on the airport site. 

The news comes after RiverOak Strategic Partners’ planning application was accepted for examination by the secretary of state for housing in August.

In response to the consultation, Natural England said: “At this stage there are several nature conservation issues which have yet to be fully resolved.

“This is partly due to further information being required from RiverOak and partly because we have been unable to supply appropriate specialist resource to review what has been supplied.”

Conservation issues yet to be resolved according to Natural England include impacts on European protected species, air quality, water quality impacts on designated nature conservation sites and visual as well as noise disturbance of bird species.

In addition, the Met Office said: “Met Office currently occupy part of Manston Airport for the purposes of a weather station, which is an important site within our network.

“It is likely that the proposals will affect the location and exposure of the weather station to the extent that it will not be possible to retain in its current location.

“Whilst it is preferable to avoid any changes to these sites, it may be possible to mitigate against the effects of the proposal subject to agreement with the applicant, by, for example, the relocation of the weather station to a suitable alternative location nearby.”

RiverOak Strategic Partners’ planning application is specifically for the upgrade and reopening of the airport primarily as a cargo airport, with some passenger services, with a capacity of at least 12,000 air cargo movements per year.

Consideration of the planning application is still in the pre-examination stage, according to the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

Director of RiverOak Strategic Partners George Yerrall said: “There are, quite naturally, some more cautious responses from statutory consultees, but we remain in constructive dialogue with them all and are confident we can address all of the issues they quite rightly raise.”

He also confirmed that RiverOak Strategic Partners are currently working their way through more than 2,000 responses published earlier this week on the government’s Planning Inspectorate website.

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