Pilot magazine leads the way in forcing government to reconsider airfields as brownfield sites

An online petition launched by Pilot magazine is rapidly gathering signatures with the aim of instigating a debate in Parliament on the status of airfields and the ability of developers to close them to aviation use.

In reaction to what the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) CEO and Pilot columnist Steve Slater characterised as, “the darkest news to face General Aviation for some time”, reader David Parsonage suggested that the magazine should instigate a petition that, if it draws a sufficiently large number of signatories, could force the Government to look again at the contentious classification of airfields alongside disused industrial sites. If a petition gets 10,000 signatures the government will respond, but if it gets 100,000 signatures the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Aviation organisations including the LAA, General Aviation Awareness Council, British Helicopter Association, British Model Flying Association, and other members of the CAA/GA partnership have been contacted and quickly agreeed an effectively worded petition to be set up on the Government’s website.

The group of signatories required to launch the petition, which went live on 27 August, included Steve Slater, Charles Henry of the GAAC, Geoff Weighall of the BMAA, Andy Symons of the BMFA, Pilot’s Editor, Philip Whiteman, and magazine contributors Dave Unwin and Bob Grimstead.

Titled ‘Keep Airfields Greenfields - Review Airfield Classification as Brownfield Sites’, the petition states: “In 2003 an ‘administrative oversight’ led to the deletion of planning protection from airfields being classified as brownfield sites. As a result, airfields are being closed by developers, breaking transport links and destroying significant areas of natural habitat within airfield boundaries.

“The UK aerodrome network is regarded by DfT as an important part of the national transport infrastructure and there is strong evidence that airfield sites offer low-insecticide, low-herbicide sanctuaries for plants, insects and associated wildlife. We demand a review of the brownfield designation of airfields for redevelopment, in recognition of their economic benefit and importance as environmental ‘green spaces’, and that Government Planning Policy reverts to that previously in place.”

We urge all our website users and everyone who wishes to preserve our airfields to visit:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106779/sponsors/5BPyuNKQZOhvaidWiE9 and add their signature.

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As of Friday 28 August, the petition had accrued more than 3,000 signatories in just 24 hours and several MPs had been in touch with the LAA to ask for briefings.