The UK government has given the green light for Manston Airport in Kent to be developed to improve air freight capacity in the south east of England.

Approval of the Development Consent Order means Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP) can now invest up to £500 million in the site, which was a Battle of Britain airfield but could soon become a global freight hub.

Runway upgrade and new training school

The order seeks to upgrade the runway, install stands for multiple air freight aircraft, build a new air traffic control tower, extend passenger service facilities and create a new flight training school.

RSP said it would “help alleviate long term overcrowding in the London airport system and ease road congestion caused by lorries carrying freight through the channel tunnel to European airports”.

First cargo services in early 2025

Surveys, detailed master planning and design work will commence in the next few weeks. Construction will begin later next year, with the airport hoping to operate its first cargo services in early 2025.

RSP director Tony Freudmann said: “Today is a day to celebrate the culmination of years of campaigning. I would like to pay tribute to the extraordinary army of Manston Airport supporters who have never given up hope of seeing new life breathed into this historic aviation asset.”

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