According to its Chairman, Charles Henry, 2018 was a positive year for the General Aviation Awareness Council, marked by its growing role working with the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) for GA and helping to run its Working Groups, two of which GAAC Board members chair.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) recognised the need for planners and local authorities to take Airfields and the wider network into account. The GAAC Response on NPPF states:
Although it has not been possible to achieve clarity on the “Brownfield” issue, there is now enough overlapping legislation within the NPPF to imply the level of protection airfields need and to challenge the developers’ view that they are large areas of cheap building land…
In addition the APPG launched an Airspace Inquiry. The GAAC Response to the Airspace Inquiry states:
The GAAC notes, and strongly agrees with, the statement in the Call for Evidence – that the UK’s airspace
belongs to everyone, that equitable access is paramount, and that removing a part of it from certain
users must come with responsibilities. This must also, obviously, be accomplished alongside the need
to maintain high levels of air safety. These two aspects should form the twin pillars of an overarching
airspace policy. In addition, it is of relevance that a stated government aim is to make the UK the best
country in the world for general aviation, and this should also be an aim of the airspace policy…
It has been stressed that, unless a suitable strategy to maintain and enhance a network of airfields for
use by the different sectors of GA flying is established, the value of any work on airspace planning is
One comment worth quoting in full [from the Call for Evidence] is as follows: ‘There is no joined up thinking between government departments with regard to airspace and GA, with one department trying to close aerodromes and hence the airspace and another trying to promote GA whilst doing nothing to protect the airspace above them.’
Clearly ongoing strategic work on GA airfield networks, the newly enhanced place of such airfields in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and the government’s policy and objectives on airspace must be linked, if the government is to meet its aim of the UK being the best place in the world for GA.
GAAC continues to publish the Aerodromes Update, reflecting the status of airfields under threat. By way of an end of year (2018) summary, the following has been provided by John Walker, who is a Board Member of both GAAC and AOPA:
Future secured for aviation purposes:
Chalgrove; Halfpenny Green (Wolverhampton Business Airport); Hullavington; Kemble (Cotswold Airport); Mildenhall; Wellesbourne Mountford; Wycombe Air Park.
Aerodromes lost to non-aviation development:
Alconbury; Aylesbury / Thame (Haddenham); Bourn; Deenethorpe; Dunsfold; Long Marston; Molesworth; North Luffenham; Nottingham City (Tollerton); Spitalgate.
The future of the majority of the remaining aerodromes on the Aerodromes Update list is dependent on the outcome of the Local Plan process. The future of Manston is largely dependent on the current DCO process, and for Old Sarum, the on-going Planning Appeal Inquiry.
The GAAC Board would like to wish all its Supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we look forward to your continued support through 2019.