Air­field plan­ning hope

Pilot - - PILOT NOTES -

In De­cem­ber, then Sec of State for Com­mu­ni­ties promised to re­visit Gov­ern­ment plan­ning pol­icy in re­la­tion to air­fields

The All-party Par­lia­men­tary Group (APPG) on Gen­eral Avi­a­tion has warmly wel­comed a pos­i­tive com­mit­ment made in early

De­cem­ber by the Sec­re­tary of State for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Sa­jid Javid MP, to re­visit Gov­ern­ment plan­ning pol­icy in re­la­tion to air­fields.

Mr Javid said he was “grate­ful for the con­sid­ered ar­gu­ments” raised by the group for recog­nis­ing the eco­nomic im­por­tance of air­fields un­der plan­ning pol­icy and had asked of­fi­cials in the Depart­ment, which is re­spon­si­ble for set­ting na­tional plan­ning pol­icy guide­lines, to re­view the ex­ist­ing pol­icy in close li­ai­son with the Depart­ment for Trans­port.

Com­ment­ing on Mr Javid’s re­sponse, Grant Shapps MP, Chair of the APPG, said: “No White­hall depart­ment is more essen­tial to the fu­ture of Gen­eral Avi­a­tion than the Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment. How­ever, up un­til now, that depart­ment hasn’t grasped the con­nec­tion be­tween plan­ning, air­fields and the very sur­vival of one of the UK’S most vi­brant sec­tors – avi­a­tion. This lat­est let­ter from the Sec­re­tary of State is there­fore very sig­nif­i­cant in­deed and the All-party Par­lia­men­tary Group on Gen­eral Avi­a­tion strongly wel­comes and ap­pre­ci­ates the Sec­re­tary of State’s thought­ful re­sponse to our ar­gu­ments on strength­en­ing plan­ning pol­icy on air­fields. We look for­ward to work­ing with the Depart­ment for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment as well as the Depart­ment for Trans­port and Gov­ern­ment more widely to get the bal­ance right for this crit­i­cal sec­tor and the whole of the UK econ­omy.”

“2018 will be a sig­nif­i­cant year for the APPG on Gen­eral Avi­a­tion,” APPG’S El­lis Tur­rell tells us. “I am de­lighted to say that we have suc­cess­fully fought to get the Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Depart­ment to look again at plan­ning pol­icy around air­fields, which is widely re­garded as too weak to pre­vent air­fields from be­ing closed and built on. This is very sig­nif­i­cant, be­cause the Sec­re­tary of State had orig­i­nally claimed all was well and that no changes were re­quired. We there­fore warmly wel­come this change of po­si­tion.

“Also, in another pos­i­tive step, the Depart­ment for Trans­port has an­nounced that By­ron Davies MP will be the Gov­ern­ment’s first ever Gen­eral Avi­a­tion Cham­pion. The an­nounce­ment was made by the Sec­re­tary of State Chris Grayling at our Christ­mas Re­cep­tion on the House of Com­mons Ter­race. By­ron was the first Chair of the APPG un­til he lost his seat in the 2017 Gen­eral Elec­tion, and we con­grat­u­late him on his ap­point­ment. He is some­one who ab­so­lutely un­der­stands the is­sues fac­ing the GA sec­tor, and I know he will do a fan­tas­tic job pro­mot­ing GA in the Depart­ment. He will be in charge of a project the DFT are un­der­tak­ing to es­tab­lish a strate­gic net­work of Gen­eral Avi­a­tion air­fields in the UK, and will also be very ac­tive in Airspace Strat­egy and the Depart­ment of Trans­port’s over­all Avi­a­tion Strat­egy.

“Fi­nally, the APPG’S three work­ing groups on Air­fields, Airspace and Avi­a­tion Tax­a­tion are get­ting un­der­way [in Jan­uary]. The work­ing groups are com­prised of ex­perts in the re­spec­tive fields. We look for­ward to be­ing able to re­port on their progress shortly.”

Mem­ber­ship of the APPG has grown rapidly to in­clude 116 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans across both Houses of Par­lia­ment. Its de­clared mis­sion is ‘to help make the UK the best coun­try in the world for GA’. gen­er­alavi­a­tion­appg.uk

By­ron Davies MP

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