Once again, Manston Airport is in the news (BBC) and once again there is the danger that a golden opportunity to bring long term jobs, infrastructure and prosperity to the Thanet region is likely to be overlooked in favour of an easy, short term political solution of housing and light industry. Of course, once the housing is built the construction work dries up, and any light industry park/shopping units will be in direct competition for occupancy with Discovery Park at Sandwich and Ramsgate's Westwood development.
Manston's long runway make it ideal for long haul and freight services and a post-Brexit Britain may well want destinations such as China, Australasia and the Americas to be fast-tracked via air. It is also ideally positioned to be a staging hub for freight to Northern Europe and the rest of the UK and the building of rail infrastructure to the Channel Tunnel and local ports would make it a connected, efficient, specialist hub.
A London shuttle-plane service to the City Airport would connect the airport to the city centre if necessary and the extension of fast train services from the channel tunnel to Sandwich Discovery, Manston, Ramsgate and Margate will open the region up to investment from firms looking for good connectivity.
I have blogged before about Manston and airport hubs in the South east here and here. I am naturally cautious about any airport expansion in the South East, particularly at sites such as Heathrow due to overcrowding on the M25 and nearby housing or in vulnerable estuary marshes like Grain, believing, if we need more airport capacity it would be better to focus on under-utilised existing sites such as Manston where investment and long term vision could help to turn Thanet into a real success story for the future.