Manston could 'play a role' in airport capacity needs

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Manston airport in Kent could help meet aviation capacity needs in London, according to Transport Minister Theresa Villiers.

Ms Villiers told delegates at a transport conference the government did not support a third runway at Heathrow.

She said that another solution was needed and that "some would like to see Manston play a role in meeting our aviation capacity needs".

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said: "This is very significant indeed."

The Conservative MP said: "This is the first time that any senior transport minister has recognised the potential of Manston.

"We've been saying for a long time that, given the right rail links and good road links, there is no reason why Manston shouldn't play a major role in aviation in the south east.

"I know the Secretary of State has taken on board the fact the need is now.

"We are losing business to Holland, we are losing business to France - we can't wait 20 years - Manson is there now and Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers have recognised that."

Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston airport in Thanet, said that, in the long term, building a new infrastructure would mean a major airport capacity increase could take about 20 years.

He said that the short term solution to the aviation capacity problem would be to develop the existing infrastructure in the south east, particularly Manston airport, which already has the ability to accommodate intercontinental flights and also has a long runway.

The coalition government is currently consulting on the future of aviation policy and Ms Villiers was speaking at the Transport Times conference, on Wednesday, looking at A New Strategy for UK Aviation - The Case for New Hub Capacity.

The government plans to publish its aviation review in the summer.

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