and Wrekin Council will soon begin the Local Plan review process which will define
planning policy in the area for the period 2006 - 2011. Whilst the existing policy
recognises the benefits to the economy of regional facilities and the need to also
consider environmental issues, it also states that the Council...
"...will not encourage the development of
facilities for recreational flying in the district."
The public consultation phase is expected in
Sept/Oct and provides an opportunity to press for this to be amended to a more balanced
policy which does not arbitrarily rule out recreational facilities.
The current Telford and Wrekin Local Plan for
the period to 2006 can be viewed on line and is linked to from the Local Plan web
page. The full document linked to on that page is in adobe acrobat format. Be warned
it is 5Mb and for those with patience, unmetered internet access and/or fast internet
links the relevant policy is T11 with explanatory text in sections 7.3.37-38 on pages
Also relevant is the Shropshire County Council
draft structure plan linked to from the Joint Structure
Plan web page. This is a slightly more palatable download at 1.2Mb with Air Transport
policy being p42 with explanatory text in section 11.18 on pages 84-85.
In writing you might like to consider the
Local Plans should be drafted within the
context of the County Structure Plan. In this instance the current Local Plan is at odds
with the draft Structure Plan which does not make any distinction between recreational and
business aviation. In defining the criteria against which proposals for airfield
facilities will be assessed it states...
"Proposals for the recreational (A4A emphasis) or
business use by light aircraft of existing or proposed airfields will be assessed..."
Much of the environmental concern relating to
light aircraft of course relates to noise. This issue was debated
in the House of Commons last summer, in which it was stated by the Minister for Transport
"We recognise the legitimate right of
general aviation pilots to fly, but ... that right should always be balanced with the
interests of the communities that are disturbed by aerodrome activities."
"General aviation is an activity that
is not only legitimate, but important. It would be wrong to conceive of it as a matter
purely of weekend leisure flying, although that has its place."
It is also relevant to know that in deciding in
favour of Clutton Hill airstrip in 2000 the Planning Inspector based his decision in part
on the basis that noise generated by light aircraft would be of sufficiently brief
duration and of sufficient infrequency (based on a maximum 16 movements per day) as to not
have an unacceptable impact on local inhabitants.
The GAAC suggests a draft policy that Councils
might consider of...
"The establishment of flying sites for
all types of aviation activity, or changes to operations at existing sites, will be
considered on their merits having regard to the following:
- The economic and employment advantages
- The broadening of the range of recreation
provision available within the County/Region.
- The likely impact upon residential and other
noise sensitive properties in the immediate vicinity (i.e. under flight paths and
circuits), by virtue of noise and disturbance.
- The benefits to services such as the public
- The site's role in the overall transport
infrastructure of the County/Region, having regard to sustainable development issues.
- Visual impact.
Restrictions upon the number, type and
times of movements would be the subject of conditions attached to any grant of permission
as required in the specific circumstances of the case and in negotiation with the
operator, having regard to the economic viability of the site."
The most effective course of action would be in
response to the public consultation exercise which is anticipated for Sept/Oct. However
there is some value in writing in support of GA generally, in positive terms, now...
Area Planning Officer
Telford & Wrekin Council
P.O. Box 212
Letters are most effective when written in your
own words and express support for GA in positive terms.