New Civil Engineer - Catherine Moore

The proposed reopening of Manston Airport in Kent - given the go ahead last month, despite planners recommending that its development consent order application (DCO) be refused - is not the only blocked airport expansion to be overturned in recent months.

So, why does this keep happening - and what is the status of the UK's various mooted expansions?

The Bristol and Stansted projects were overturned by the Planning Inspectorate and Manston by the secretary of state, and in both cases Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) director Tim Johnson has emphasised what the AEF see as a flawed decision making process, based on outdated policies.

"At Bristol and Stansted, the inspectors accepted that aircraft emissions were largely an issue for national policy and the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) and Making Best Use (MBU) both supported growth," he said. "While both councils had declared climate emergencies these had not yet found their way into relevant local plan considerations.

"We have criticised relying on the ANPS and MBU because both documents were issued prior to net zero legislation coming into effect. At Manston, the secretary of state relied on the government's Jet Zero strategy which isn't aligned with the Committee on Climate Change's advice and has been criticised by NGOs for being a high risk strategy that relies on unproven technologies."

Currently, there are more than half a dozen expansions currently being mooted in the UK, but experts have said the government’s stance on decarbonising aviation remains lacklustre.

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