Air­fields news

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Fairoaks un­der threat; pro­posed Gov­ern­ment air­field sup­port

The All-party Par­lia­men­tary Group for Gen­eral Avi­a­tion (APPG) has pledged its sup­port for ‘Fairoaks 2020’, the vol­un­teer cam­paign group fight­ing a plan to close Fairoaks Air­port and cre­ate a 1,000-homes Fairoaks Gar­den Vil­lage on its Green Belt site. In late Novem­ber Fairoaks 2020 lodged a for­mal ob­jec­tion to Sur­rey Heath, Wok­ing and Run­nymede Bor­ough Coun­cils

and has stepped up its cam­paign, can­vass­ing lo­cal res­i­dents and re­leas­ing a new ‘Keep Fairoaks Fly­ing’ video at: youtu.be/ SRUO0B3FZY­A

“We do not be­lieve that such a large de­vel­op­ment and po­ten­tial loss of 400 acres of Green Belt land­scape – [which] could re­sult in the clo­sure of this strate­gi­cally placed air­field to the south west of Lon­don – should be made by a lo­cal plan­ning com­mit­tee,” says Fairoaks 2020 Chair­man Dou­glas Mancini. He calls on the Gov­ern­ment to act on it as a mat­ter of ur­gency, warn­ing, “Fairoaks Air­port stands poised to be­come a bench­mark for fu­ture de­ci­sions for gen­eral avi­a­tion and pi­lot train­ing in the UK, where more than 35 aero­dromes are un­der threat.

“The tim­ing is sig­nif­i­cant com­ing ahead of the York Avi­a­tion Re­port, which was com­mis­sioned by the De­part­ment for Trans­port to look at strate­gi­cally lo­cated air­fields in the UK. York Avi­a­tion’s ini­tial re­port stated that Fairoaks is ‘not vi­able,’ but Fairoaks 2020 strongly chal­lenges that. It is based on its cur­rent (dual) own­er­ship struc­ture, which could be changed. Fur­ther­more, its rec­om­men­da­tion that op­er­a­tors move to other nearby air­ports is flawed. The York Avi­a­tion Re­port sug­gests de­mand could be met from other Lon­don air­ports, but this is in­cor­rect. There is now only one air­port in the Lon­don area – Southend – avail­able for use overnight with­out any re­stric­tions. In neigh­bour­ing Hamp­shire,

Farn­bor­ough Air­port (serv­ing pri­mar­ily VIP jets) is not in­ter­ested in gen­eral avi­a­tion. Its fees do not suit the GA sec­tor ei­ther. Red­hill is un­der threat. Black­bushe may not get the per­mis­sion it seeks for ex­pan­sion. Den­ham, which York Avi­a­tion rec­om­mends could also take up Fairoaks’ move­ments, is busy with fixed-wing and he­li­copter GA ac­tiv­ity.

“Fairoaks Air­port con­trib­utes far more eco­nomic value to the lo­cal econ­omy than York Avi­a­tion states, and with a new for­ward-think­ing in­vestor group, this air­port would thrive. Fairoaks 2020 chal­lenges that clos­ing strate­gic aero­dromes in the coun­try re­stricts the num­ber of es­sen­tial land­ing sites for cross­coun­try nav­i­ga­tional flights, so nec­es­sary for stu­dents to gain a pi­lot’s li­cence. It is also at odds with the acute fu­ture global de­mand for pi­lots.”

Fairoaks 2020 is fight­ing a plan to build houses on Fairoaks Air­port

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