GAAC Continues To Warn Of Threat To Airfields

The General Aviation Awareness Council (GAAC), a body representing more than 40 aviation organisations, says more needs to be done to protect airfields and to establish a ‘Network’ of Airfields in law.

GAAC is active in supporting the work of the various Working Groups of the All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation (APPG/GA) with several GAAC Board members active on working groups, including chairing those on taxation and airfields.

Among other issues GAAC is involved in are airspace change proposals, and the requirement to better balance the needs of all airspace users; the need for more flight instructors and to address the theoretical knowledge requirements (currently to CPL level); and the development of GNSS approaches in the UK, which has fallen well behind the U.S. and France, which has been establishing such approaches for several years. At present the UK only has a handful, which is causing a training bottleneck as well as pilots are increasingly required to have experience of GPS approaches.

However the main activity of the GAAC is efforts to protect UK airfields from housing developers who see them as easy targets, that are protected very poorly by planning law. The situation is serious and GAAC has retained the services of an expert surveyor, who has done excellent work liaising with various airfields and lobby groups. Funding these efforts is difficult and although GAAC is grateful to receive contributions from some of its supporting aviation organisations (most notable AOPA, LAA and BGA), it is seeking further donations either from individuals or companies/organisations to fund its work. It is also seeking a sponsor for the redevelopment of its website, work which is ready to proceed in October 2018. DONATE TO GAAC.

Update on Airfields

GAAC board member John Walker continues to keep the list of airfields under threat up to date. John is also a board member of AOPA and at the AOPA Members Working Group at White Waltham Airfield on 29th September 2018, he reported that the number on the list had now increased to 42. This is in part due to more military airfields becoming available as targets for housing developers.



APPG Airspace Inquiry Outlines Terms of Reference

The following from the All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation announces the steps being taken by APPG to investigate the approach to airspace changes with respect to balancing the requirements of airspace users, from gliders to bizjets, and airfields/airports.

APPG Airspace Inquiry Announcement

[1] A list of supporting MPs and Peers as of September 2018 can be found here: PARLIAMENTARY SUPPORTERS


APPG Provides Update of Activities to August 2018

The following was posted by Matthew Bolshaw from the All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation:

In the short period since my last update the All Party Group have been busy despite the Parliamentary Recess and the following significant events have taken place:


The group also visited EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to learn more about the thriving grassroots sector and how it compares to the UK.
The MPs, who are members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation, met with two of their US counterparts from the Congressional General Aviation Caucus, Rep. Sam Graves and Dem. Marc Veasey. They then met with organisations including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and Helicopter Association International (HAI).
Topics for discussion included the regulation of General Aviation in the United States; the current legislative environment in both the US and the UK; the economic benefits of General Aviation to local and national economies; and continued mutual recognition of standards post-Brexit.

The all-party group then travelled to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to attend the world’s largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts at EAA AirVenture, and met with the organisers of the show, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), to understand how they represent the recreational aviation community. Meetings were also held with the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), who organised a tech tour of the show to companies such as Hartzell Propeller Inc., Piper, Textron and BendixKing.

Following the airshow, the parliamentarians headed to Frederick, Maryland to meet with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world’s largest aviation association, to discuss key ways of engaging more young people in aviation and General Aviation in particular. Schemes with the all-party group hopes to take forward as a result of this meeting include pushing Government to adopt a STEM curriculum in schools, and a commitment to ensure more women pursue careers in aviation.

Sheryll Murray MP, who was part of the delegation and is a member of the all-party group, said: “Our group of parliamentarians from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation have had a fascinating and incredibly worthwhile series of meetings in the United States, to learn about the overall picture of General Aviation there and identify measures that the UK Government can adopt to grow and enhance this grassroots sector here. It’s clear from the high-level meetings we held with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Business Aviation Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association among others, that there is much more the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority can be doing to promote the importance of General Aviation, and the high-tech jobs and skills it brings.
Colleagues from the all-party group will be coming forward with legislative proposals to get more young people, and particularly young women, involved in grassroots aviation jobs – otherwise the UK’s £60bn+ wider aviation sector will struggle to survive.”

Following the success of the APPG with the recently published draft National Planning Policy Framework we were encouraged to receive a letter from the Secretary of State. The letter can be found on our website.


The Local Government Secretary of State, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, has told local planning authorities that they should engage with non-statutory consultees (including aerodromes) on developments within the local area, in a letter to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation.

In the letter, Mr Brokenshire says that “National Planning Practice Guidance sets out that local planning authorities should consider whether there are planning policy reasons to engage other consultees who – whilst not designated in law – are likely to have an interest in the proposed development.

“Local planning authorities are encouraged to produce and publish a locally specific list of non-statutory consultees. Local planning authorities should engage with non-statutory consultees to identify clearly the types of developments within the local area in which they have interest so that any formal consultation can be directed appropriately.”

Mr Brokenshire also said that officials from his department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, are working with the Department for Transport on the safeguarding status of licensed or certified airfields in the UK.

The Secretary of State’s letter came in response to the all-party group’s call to Government to grant ‘official safeguarding’ status to all 123 of these licensed aerodromes. Official safeguarding status is awarded to civil aerodromes by the Government in order to ensure that their operation and development are not inhibited by neighbouring developments such as buildings – which could interfere with navigational aids or distract pilots. This means that any development proposals require consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority. Currently only 29 aerodromes in England and Wales and 12 in Scotland are officially safeguarded.

Chair of the 174-strong all-party parliamentary group, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, said: “The minister has sent a clear message that local planning authorities should draw up a list of non statutory organisations who should be consulted on matters related to their airfields surviving and thriving. Parliamentary colleagues warmly welcome this reassurance from the Secretary of State that the interests of local aerodromes and the General Aviation sector must not be disregarded, particularly when it comes to planning issues which may impact on their ability to train the pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers of the future.
But we want the Government to go further, and specifically grant the 123 licensed and certified aerodromes in the UK officially safeguarded status. It surely cannot be right that only 29 aerodromes in England and Wales, and just 12 in Scotland, are officially protected from neighbouring developments inhibiting their activities. If the Government truly wants to see the UK’s aviation grassroots thrive, then it must at the very least officially safeguard all licensed aerodromes.”

The APPG on GA intends to send the letter to every planning authority in order to highlight the advice in order to better protect the STEM jobs and growth derived from general aviation.

We have also been dealing with the CAA on various matters but one of these involves Skytyping and similar. We were pleased to announce:


The Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg CBE has promised to update UK law to allow for the practice of Skytyping and other forms of sky writing in the UK. The move follows pressure from parliamentarians and aviation aerobatic experts to change outdated legislation, which currently bans writing anything in the sky.

In a letter from the Aviation Minister, sent after the all-party group contacted the Transport Secretary to point out the absurdity of the current law, Baroness Sugg confirmed that the Department for Transport will consult on amending secondary legislation to reverse the current ban on Skytyping and other forms of sky writing.

Skytyping is a technique whereby an aircraft emits smoke in a series of precision bursts to form lettering and words in the sky. The smoke output is generated by an electronic master plan. But whilst the practice has been allowed in countries such as the United States for decades, it has always been illegal in the UK.
Despite Parliamentary time for dealing with the amendment being limited until after the UK has left the European Union, Baroness Sugg says that the General Aviation community should “be assured that the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] and the DfT [Department for Transport] are very keen to take this Skytyping project forward as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

Welcoming this commitment from the Minister, the Chair of the all-party group Grant Shapps MP said: “The All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation has just returned from a successful fact-finding visit to the United States, where Skytyping has been allowed as a communication tool to reach millions of people for decades.
“Our 173 strong cross-party group of MPs and Lords thought it was high time that the UK updated its outdated laws on sky writing, so we contacted the Secretary of State to ask him to intervene. We warmly welcome this new commitment from the Aviation Minister, pledging to overturn this bonkers ban on UK Skytyping.
We want to see General Aviation fulfill its potential to expand high-tech jobs and growth in the UK and updating antiquated laws which hold back aviation is a key part of our mission. It’s clear that the Government has a long way to go to fulfil its policy of making the UK the best country in the world for General Aviation, but this is  a positive step in the right direction, and the all-party group looks forward to helping the Minister deliver this promise.”

This letter can also be found on the APPG website.

Manston and Plymouth Airports

Finally, over the past few days we are delighted to report that some very good news has emerged on the re-opening of the above two airports. While the fight is not yet over major hurdles have been overcome with the future of both now looking promising. The APPG is delighted to have been of assistance and wishes both airports every success as they proceed towards becoming operational.

Matthew Bolshaw, 
Public Liaison Officer to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation.

Membership of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation includes 173 parliamentarians across both Houses of Parliament. Its mission is to help make the UK the best country in the world for General Aviation. Find out more about membership and our work at www.generalaviationappg.uk

Follow the APPG on Twitter – twitter.com/GA_APPG


The GAAC (General Aviation Awareness Council) fully engages and supports the work of the APPG for GA. Its board members are chairing key APPG committees and acting as a liaison with the 40-plus aviation organisations that are GAAC members, including the LAA, AOPA and BGA. For further information please see www.gaac.org.uk.


GAAC Publishes Chairman’s Report from AGM held at AeroExpo 2018

Chairman’s Report to the 22nd Annual General Meeting

15th June 2018, Wycombe Air Park

Welcome to our 22nd AGM and my thanks to all who have enabled the GAAC to continue its work as the recognised single voice for the GA Community on all matters related to airfields.

DfT response to the GAAC Ministerial Briefing Paper

Last year the GAAC prepared a paper for the then Minister for Aviation, Lord Ahmad, setting out the need to identify a Network of Airfields of strategic importance to the UK Economy, which recognised the different needs of the many sectors of GA.

The DfT responded to this paper by appointing York Aviation in January 2018 ‘… to undertake a study concerning the identification of a strategic network of general aviation aerodromes.’

The initial findings by York Aviation confirm:
1. 1. That there is no single network – GA is too disparate.
2. 2. There is segmentation between user groups.
3. 3. The functioning of the network is about ‘capability’ and ‘access’.
4. 4. The network is not static and must accommodate future needs.
5. 5. Future needs will recognise the use of autonomous aerial systems providing both freight and personal transport.

The GAAC has met with York Aviation both jointly with others and to provide guidance and we look forward to the outcome of their deliberations.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG)

During the past year the APPG for GA was set up to become the voice of General Aviation in Parliament. This is supported by 150 Parliamentary members from across all parties and both Houses of Parliament. It is an influential Group and I am glad to report that the GAAC is a primary participant in the Working Groups. Indeed, John Gilder, your vice-chairman, chairs the APPG Working Group on Airfields and I chair the APPG Working Group on Tax and Regulation. Meanwhile The Airspace Working Group is chaired by Pete Stratten of the BGA.

We are also pleased to say that many members of our Board also serve on these working groups and represent your diverse aviation interests. Notable achievements so far have enabled Government to recognise that the wider aviation sector supported by GA contributes some £60 Billion to the UK economy and that Government’s objective is to make the UK the best country in the world for General Aviation.

Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) have already confirmed that ‘Planning Policies should….recognise the importance of maintaining a national network of general aviation facilities – taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs…and the Government’s General Aviation Strategy.’

All supporters of GA are invited to raise valid questions on GA concerns which the GAAC will put forward to be raised in Parliament. Baroness Sugg is the current Minister for Aviation.

Closely aligned with the new Government recognition of GA was the appointment of Byron Davies as the GA Champion at the DfT. We are in very regular contact with Byron and glad for the high level contact he provides. Indeed, Chris Grayling the Secretary of State at the DfT is also being most helpful.


Briefly, as nothing is yet decided, it is my view that it should be perfectly possible for the UK to participate as an ‘Associated Country’ in the same way as Iceland; Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and continue under EASA’s safety legislation. Hopefully, reason will prevail and a smooth transition be endorsed in the interests of all ‘Member States’ as EASA (for simplicity) currently refers to the 28 EU Members and the four Associated Countries.


Our liaison with the CAA continues to be excellent and this year we would thank Andrew Haines, who retires this year, for his help as well as welcome Richard Moriarty as his successor. We must also acknowledge continued support for GA from Tony Rapson.


The GAAC has advanced its real influence on achieving change for the benefit of GA at minimal costs thanks to the support of our major donors. But we are still slowly eroding our reserves as we make a small loss each year despite all the voluntary unpaid work of our Board and Working Group Members.

We have to address this issue and would ask all to consider whether they receive value for their support….and, if possible, consider contributing a little more. It will be money well spent. We shall also work to spread our net more widely to the flying community and have plans which we hope will come to fruition in the year ahead. Likewise we need to improve our communications and this, too, is in hand.

It remains only for me to thank my fellow officers: John Gilder whose work on the APPG alone would more than keep him busy; Roger Wilson who keeps our Accounts under control and Jonathan Morton for his guidance to me and arrangements for our Meetings in which connection I must also thank Mandy Sarney for providing us with our room today.

I would also thank all the members of our Board and Working Group for their input throughout the year…without which we could not have provided the necessary information to Government, Regulators and others which keeps GA meeting the challenges it faces.

Charles Henry FRAeS
Chairman GAAC


National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Amendments

NPPF amendments

You will be aware that we have been successful in getting a General Aviation paragraph in the all-important draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The consultation closes on 10th May, and we want to ensure that the entire GA sector is backing our call to strengthen planning guidance for airfields in this country. Therefore please could I encourage you to ask as many people as possible to go to our website www.generalaviationappg.uk/nppf and add their name to the campaign!

At the time of writing over 2,800 people have responded via our website form, meaning that the Minister of Housing, Communities & Local Government will be receiving an unprecedented General Aviation response.  However, there is more you can do. Since all your Working Group members represent different aviation organisations, please could you ask them to write from their respective organisations (i.e. not just via our website form), backing the amendments the APPG has proposed. As a former Planning Minister, I absolutely know that these responses will be seen with the additional weight of coming from individual GA organisations and not being part of a form driven response. This is therefore extremely important.


Threatened Aerodromes Update (5-3-2018)

AERODROMES UPDATE   (Updated 5 March 2018)

Download as PDF



Current Status
Andrewsfield Braintree, Colchester and Tendring Councils are co-operating in developing a Local Plan for North-East Essex with an area including Andrewsfield airfield, earmarked for a garden community with ultimately 10,000 homes.  The definitive Local Plan is the subject of Public Examination with the hearings on garden communities held in January 2018.


Resident Upward Bound Trust Gliding Club given notice to quit – site earmarked in Aylesbury Vale District Council emerging Local Plan for housing / economic development.
Blackpool Balfour-Beatty sold their 95% interest in the airport and associated land to Blackpool Council (who held the remaining 5% interest) for £4.25 million with funds for the purchase coming from the sale of airport land for industrial purposes. A masterplan for both the adjoining Enterprise Zone and airport has been adopted ensuring continued airport operations until at least 2040.
Bourn Site earmarked for 3,200 homes in current draft Local Plan by South Cambridgeshire District Council.  The draft Plan was the subject of Public Examination by a Planning Inspector with specific hearings on the proposals for Bourn airfield held on 4 April 2017.
Chalgrove Airfield occupied and operated by Martin-Baker Aircraft (MBA) has been transferred from the MoD to Homes England (previously the Homes and Communities Agency).  Site included in South Oxfordshire District definitive Local Plan public consultation document for a 3,000 home development with a new runway for MBA operations.  Consultation ended on 30 November 2017.  Media reports that Homes England will use their CPO powers if current negotiations with MBA, who wish to expand their on-site operations, about the development are unsuccessful.
Deenethorpe Site accepted under the Government’s Garden Village scheme for development with up to 1,500 homes which development is supported by the Brudenell Estate, the site owner. Public consultations on a proposed site masterplan commenced in March 2018 prior to a planning application being made in Autumn 2018.
Dunsfold Planning application for mixed use development with 1,800 homes on site approved by Waverley Borough Council on 14 December 2016.  Local Parish Council representations caused the application to be called in for a Public Inquiry and the Planning Inspector’s report was submitted to Central Government on 12 October 2017 with a decision now expected on or before 15 March 2018.
Elvington York City Council Local Plan public consultation document issued on 18 September 2017 included a development of up to 3,330 dwellings partly occupying the middle section of the Elvington airfield runway.  The consultation ended on 30 October 2017 with final Local Plan consultation now on-going between February and April 2018.
Fairoaks Surrey Heath Council made a confidential, unsuccessful bid to establish a Garden Village with 1,500 homes on site under Government scheme.  Tenants advised later of proposal and public consultations started in February 2017 with planning application originally planned for submission late in 2017.  A local group opposing the Garden Village proposal presented an alternative scheme (“Fairoaks 2020”) that retains the airfield at public meetings held in January 2018
Halfpenny Green (Wolverhampton Business Airport) Aerodrome sold to MCR Property Group an investment and development company focused on commercial and residential real estate.  The Group expected to complete an initial study by Autumn 2017 of future airport income and investment that reportedly excludes housing on the site.  A tenant has written to MCR inviting them to consider a consortium to run the aerodrome.
Hullavington The former RAF Hullavington airfield site has been sold to Dyson Ltd who has planning permission to renovate two existing Type D hangars as research centres. An outline planning application for a site masterplan is expected later in 2018.
Kemble Commercial Estates Group (CEG) proposal to build a 2,000 home sustainable village on this ‘brownfield’ site as an alternative to the draft Cotswold District Local Plan proposal for a greenfield site near Cirencester.  Definitive Local Plan was submitted for Public Examination in June 2017 and public hearings started on 10 October 2017.
Long Marston Airfield is designated in Stratford-on-Avon emerging Local Plan for housing and has Garden Village approval.  Public consultation on a Supplementary Planning Document for the site ended on 1 December 2017.  Developer is Cala Homes in conjunction with site owner.  Refer to entry for Wellesbourne Mountford on page 3.




River Oak Strategic Partners will apply in Spring 2018 for a Development Consent Order for the aerodrome as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.  Site owners are consulting on a revised masterplan for mixed use which retains 1,199 metres of the existing runway; relocates the existing aviation museums and provides homes with runway access.  A planning application for the revised scheme is expected to be made early in 2018. Thanet District Council has rejected the definitive Local Plan submission for mixed use development of the site.
MoD Sites               The following MoD aerodrome sites are planned for disposal in the years indicated:
Abingdon 2029 Site earmarked for Garden Village style development with ultimately 4,000 homes in Vale of White Horse District Council document for which consultation ended on 22 November 2017.
Alconbury 2023 Major part of site already being developed with 5,000 homes.
Arbroath 2020 RMB Condor airfield – Press report that Angus Council will be given the site for a 2,500 home development.
Brawdy 2024 Cawdor barracks
Chivenor 2027 Local Government agencies have been lobbying to keep a military presence at this RM barracks.
Colerne 2018 Airfield sale being delayed to coincide with sale of adjoining Azimghur Barracks in 2031.  Local business interest in maintaining the airfield for aviation purposes.
Dishforth 2031 Airfield site being disposed of but not included for any development in any emerging Local Plan but expected to be considered during first 5 year review of the definitive plan.
Halton 2022 Aylesbury Vale District Council’s definitive Local Plan issued for public consultation does not include the airfield for any development.
Henlow 2020 Site earmarked for mixed use development in Central Bedfordshire Council draft Local Plan out for consultation ending on 22 February 2018.
Mildenhall 2024 Forest Heath District Council Vision & Prospectus document for the site retains the aviation facilities including the runway.
Molesworth 2024 When vacated by the USAF, site due to be transferred to Homes England and currently earmarked to be cleared for housing.  Site has been included in a recent Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment conducted by Huntingdonshire District Council.
North Luffenham 2021 Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and Rutland County Council discussing Garden Village proposal for this site.
Wethersfield 2020 Airfield site being transferred to Homes England in 2020.  The resident 614 Volunteer Gliding Squadron is moving to the former RAF Swanton Morley (now Robertson Barracks) which is also due for closure in 2031.
Woodbridge 2027 Rock barracks
Wyton 2018 Airfield is being sold off – DIO and local property developer Crest Nicholson proposal for up to 4,500 homes on site.  Due to road infrastructure issues, site deleted from Huntingdonshire District Council definitive 2036 Local Plan for mixed use development including housing
North Denes The airfield (also known as Yarmouth Heliport) with two grass runways has been put up for sale having been disused since 2015 on the cessation of North Sea helicopter operations.
Nottingham City


With the support of the land owner, site earmarked for up to 4,000 homes in Local Plan Core Strategy adopted by Rushcliffe Borough Council after approval from Planning Inspector.  Public consultation completed into Local Plan preferred sites (other than Core Strategy sites) options.
Old Sarum Site owner’s proposal for housing development and 10 additional hangars amongst other work, objected to by various parties as detrimental to the site’s heritage and potentially limiting use of the airfield.  After prolonged discussion with Wiltshire Council with no decision forthcoming, an appeal has been made to the Planning Inspectorate for non-determination of the application.
Panshanger Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council definitive Local Plan allows the opportunity for a realigned grass runway on land to north of previous runway 11/29.  Definitive Local Plan subject to on-going Public Examination with specific hearings concerning the aerodrome site taking place on 20 February 2018.  Two separate parties seeking to re-open the aerodrome and one of these parties have submitted an outline planning application to reinstate the aerodrome.


Peterborough / Sibson Huntingdonshire District Council submitted an unsuccessful bid for a 2,500 home Garden Village on site.  The Council subsequently withdrew their support for the proposal.   However, the site is listed in the Council’s recent Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment.
Plymouth FlyPlymouth, a local social enterprise aerodrome support group, plans to reopen the aerodrome and start regional airline services.  Sutton Harbour Holdings, the site lease holder, have proposed a mixed use development although the definitive Plymouth City / South-West Devon Joint Local Plan retains the site for aviation.  The definitive Local Plan was submitted on 31 July 2017 for Public Examination with specific hearings on the Airport held in February 2018.
Redhill Land owner and Thakeham Homes, a local housing developer, have proposed a 6,000 to 8,000 home garden village on the site and adjacent land.  Tandridge District Council public consultation on four potential garden village sites including Redhill ended on 9 October 2017.  A further Local Plan consultation is expected later in 2018.  The current draft Local Plan currently earmarks Redhill for employment purposes and notes that it is in the Green Belt with a high risk of surface water flooding.
Wellesbourne Mountford Gladman Developments in conjunction with the owner have proposed a housing development with 1,600 homes on the site although the Stratford-on-Avon Local Plan Core Strategy has earmarked Long Marston airfield as a preferred housing development site.  The Core Strategy after approval by a Planning Inspector has been adopted by the Council and states that “The aviation related functions at Wellesbourne Airfield will have been retained and enhanced”.  Tenants previously notified by owner that flying activities would cease in December 2016 but the airfield remains open pending the result of court action by the tenants to obtain new leases.  The District Council has formally rescinded the owner’s permitted development rights for the airfield and is seeking to negotiate a possible purchase of the site.
Wycombe Air Park Site lease holder (Helicopter Aircraft Holdings Ltd) has agreed new leases with the land owner, Wycombe District Council (WDC).  Draft Local Plan provides for an industrial / warehousing complex on south-eastern part of the site resulting in loss of a runway and relocation of gliding activities.  The draft plan has been issued for public consultation which ended on 27 November 2017 and the Council expect to submit the definitive plan for public examination in March 2018.