Hayes & Harlington Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - QASIM PERACHA qasim.peracha@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @@qasim­per­acha

THE Lon­don Assem­bly took aim at the Min­istry of De­fence over the al­leged com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of RAF Northolt.

The west Lon­don mil­i­tary air­base is cur­rently un­der­go­ing run­way im­prove­ments but some res­i­dents are con­cerned about the num­ber of com­mer­cial flights at the site.

On Thurs­day Septem­ber 7 a mo­tion passed unan­i­mously at a meet­ing which called on Sadiq Khan to work with lo­cal res­i­dents and cam­paign against RAF Northolt be­com­ing a com­mer­cial air­port.

Con­ser­va­tive Assem­bly Mem­ber An­drew Boff, who pro­posed the mo­tion, said: “Peo­ple were tol­er­ant of the air­port when they be­lieved it was used for mil­i­tary pur­poses but they are not go­ing to put up with these flights.”

Speak­ing of what was branded “change of use by stealth com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion” of the air­base, he added “there is not the same level of scru­tiny that nor­mal air­ports have”.

Labour Assem­bly Mem­ber Navin Shah added: “This is clearly un­ac­cept­able.

“If there were go­ing to be any change there has to be proper con­sul­ta­tion across the board with lo­cal res­i­dents and groups.”

A spokesman for the Min­istry of De­fence told the Gazette: “Civil­ian com­mer­cial flights at RAF Northolt will con­tinue to utilise spare ca­pac­ity to en­sure we get the best re­turn for the tax­payer, the clo­sure of the air­field for ren­o­va­tion has no as­so­ci­a­tion with com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion.”

The full mo­tion ac­cepted unan­i­mously in the Cham­ber read: “This Assem­bly notes that in re­cent years the Min­istry of De­fence has been steadily re­duc­ing the num­bers of mil­i­tary flights from RAF Northolt, so that most flights from Northolt are now com­mer­cial.

“This Assem­bly fur­ther notes that due to RAF Northolt’s mil­i­tary sta­tus, this has hap­pened with­out the nor­mal process of plan­ning and con­sul­ta­tion that would have been re­quired if it were a com­mer­cial air­port.

“Re­cently the run­way has been closed for strength­en­ing in or­der to en­able it to take larger jets.

“This Assem­bly be­lieves that these de­vel­op­ments are un­ac­cept­able.

“This Assem­bly there­fore calls on the Mayor to work with lo­cal res­i­dents in do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to cam­paign against RAF Northolt be­com­ing a com­mer­cial air­port.”

RAF Northolt

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