The UK’s Department for Transport has granted consent to Manston Airport in Kent, South-East England, for its transformation into an international air freight hub and passenger airfield.

Consent by the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps was given for the reopening and development of the airport into a dedicated air freight facility that has the capacity to accommodate around 10,000 air cargo movements each year.

Manston Airport will also provide passenger, executive travel, and aircraft engineering services.

Construction is expected to start next year, with first cargo services to be operated in the first quarter of 2023.

The Planning Inspectorate RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) received the application on 17 July 2018, following which it was accepted for examination on 14 August 2018.

The organisation conducted an examination where public, statutory consultees and other interested parties gave evidence to the Examining Authority.

On 18 October 2019, a recommendation was provided to the Secretary of State.

Planning Inspectorate CEO Sarah Richards said: “The Planning Inspectorate is committed to giving local communities the opportunity of being involved in the examination of projects that may affect them.

“Local people, the local authority and other interested parties were able to participate in a six-month long examination. The Examining Authority listened and gave full consideration to local views before making their recommendation.”

RSP purchased the airport, which was closed in 2014 due to massive financial losses.

It has planned to invest £300m to reconstruct the airport and transform it into a ‘global freight hub’. This is expected to create over 23,000 jobs across East Kent.

RSP director Tony Freudmann added: “Once built, Manston will be one of the most modern, efficient and environmentally friendly freight hubs in the world, able to cater for traditional freight, as well as the rapidly expanding international e-commerce sector that the UK has so heavily relied upon during the period of lockdown.

“It is not lost on RSP how much support we have received from the Thanet and East Kent community and, in particular, from our two dedicated local MPs, Sir Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay, since the start of the DCO process.”