Council U-turn on airport flights capBy Jack Sommers
October 01, 2010
PLANS to stop capping the number of flights at Farnborough Airport have been beaten by objectors.
Rushmoor Borough Council, which awards or denies planning permission for more flights, wanted to remove a clause that limits how many can take off.
Instead, it proposed judging increases on the negative and positive results of more aircraft in the sky.
This would have been a departure from the current, outgoing plan, which limits the airport to 28,000 flights a year.
But the council had to change its mind after objections from residents, alarmed at the prospect of thousands more aircraft flying over their homes.
As it draws up the new Rushmoor Plan, the authority has also had to delay the part relating to the airport.
The government has not decided whether TAG, which runs the airport, should get the 50,000 flights a year it wants, up from the current 28,000.
The new Rushmoor Plan will now limit the airport to 28,000 or 50,000 annual flights, depending on the government’s decision after a forthcoming appeal.
Geoff Marks, who campaigned against expanding the airport, said the drawn-out planning processes were making many residents fed up.
TAG applied to double its weekend flights and when it was unsuccessful, appealed and won.
It was then refused permission for 50,000 flights a year and appealed. The result of that inquiry is not expected until next year.
“TAG has sought to expand, bit by bit,” Mr Marks said. “It has left residents here very cynical about it.
“These plans are so important to them. The flights at the airport mean how disturbed they’re going to be, which has a lot to do with important decisions they have to make. Should they stay or should they go?”
“It’s difficult because you’re always preparing for the next inquiry. You know it’s coming.”
Mr Marks said he was also concerned what would happen if TAG got permission for 50,000 flights and then would seek permission by 2019 for even more flights.
Andrew Lloyd, the council’s chief executive, said: “Any new application would be carefully considered on the economic benefits weighed against the negative benefits.
“Having a set number of flights in the Rushmoor Plan would not mean we would confirm or reject any new application. We would always examine it closely.”
The council has published a draft of the new Rushmoor Plan but it does not have the Farnborough Airport Area Action Plan in it.
The Rushmoor Plan includes comments on the airport, such as the council affirming its importance to the local economy and saying business aviation should continue there.
Mr Lloyd said no detailed plans about the airport could be produced and approved until the government had decided the appeal.
The council now expects the airport action plan to be published by autumn 2011.