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Manston Airport project decision faces delay

Plans to develop Manston Airport (MSE) in southeast England into a cargo hub have been postponed again following an extension of the development consent order (DCO) decision deadline to May 18. 

The announcement came from Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport Nusrat Ghani in a statement to the U.K. House of Commons on Thursday. The latest deadline prior to the announcement required a decision by Saturday, but Ghani indicated the delay is required “to enable further information on a range of issues to be provided by the applicant and other interested parties.”

The applicant in question is RiverOak Strategic Partners, which began the approval process for MSE’s development in October. In addition to acquiring approval from the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority to build infrastructure at the airport, RiverOak must also secure approval related to airspace use and operational procedures at the airport.

In response to the delay, RiverOak said, “While frustrating, the delay is not unexpected; the last five decisions on DCO applications have all been delayed and none have yet been made.” 

RiverOak indicated the U.K.’s recent general election and ongoing Brexit and infrastructure work are likely behind the slow DCO process. The company also clarified that the delay will not impact the CAA’s airspace approval process, which is separate from the DCO.

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