Con­cerned that 100,000 sig­na­tures won’t be achieved

Pilot - - AIRMAIL - John Grace, via email

Thank you for pro­mot­ing the Air­fields not Brown­fields pe­ti­tion. I am an avid avi­a­tion en­thu­si­ast and read your ‘Main­tain the Mo­men­tum’ ed­i­to­rial in the Novem­ber edi­tion with great in­ter­est. There is no doubt that ‘as­sumed plan­ning con­sent’ on brown­field sites is the gravest threat to GA we’ve ever seen and if it hap­pens we’ll see air­fields clos­ing faster than pubs.

I have read a few pieces about this sub­ject over the past couple of months, most say­ing roughly the same: ‘sign the pe­ti­tion’, ‘write to your MP’ etc — pretty static stuff. Per­haps (hope­fully) there’s more go­ing on than I’ve read about be­cause I fear that 100,000 sig­na­tures by 27 Fe­bru­ary will not be reached, yet, as you re­fer to in your piece, it is achie­ve­able. There are enough sym­pa­thetic peo­ple out there who, if we could get them to take no­tice and sign the tar­get would be reached. I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to pass a few ideas to you and see what you think...

Look­ing at some of the blogs out there it’s quite scary how many peo­ple are neg­a­tive about GA. The ‘rich-old­boy’ stereo­types are be­lieved and peo­ple have been ed­u­cated to make a big fuss about oc­ca­sional noise. Lit­tle help is go­ing to come from Joe Pub­lic. GA it­self is of course the nat­u­ral tar­get for sig­na­tures, but I’m not sure there are suf­fi­cient num­bers to do the job and de­press­ingly much of GA isn’t really grasp­ing the net­tle — try to find some­thing about the pe­ti­tion on the LAA web­site for ex­am­ple! Surely ‘the gravest ever threat to gen­eral avi­a­tion’ should be on the home page!

What’s needed, I be­lieve, is a cre­ative and tar­geted cam­paign that in­forms and per­suades a wide range of nat­u­ral sym­pa­this­ers. John Grace of­fers a num­ber of de­tailed and use­ful sug­ges­tions we do not have space to re­pro­duce here — suf­fice to say that the avi­a­tion as­so­ci­a­tions and Pi­lot are pur­su­ing many dif­fer­ent av­enues. Hap­pily, even the 18,000-odd sig­na­tures ac­crued at the time of writ­ing have been suf­fi­cient not just to draw a re­sponse from Gov­ern­ment but pro­voke ques­tions in the House of Com­mons — Ed.

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