Plymouth City Airport: Countdown to the debate
In the run-up to next week’s big council debate over the future of Plymouth City Airport, The Herald starts a series of articles examining all sides of the issue. Today: Should it stay or should it go?
A petition calling for state ownership of Plymouth Airport will be debated by councillors next Monday, writes Keith Rossiter.
The airport was closed last December by the operator, Sutton Harbour Holdings.
The company has a 150-year lease on the land and has put forward a masterplan to build homes, shops and businesses on the site.
Meanwhile, a company set up by the founders of the pressure group Viable says it hopes to acquire the land and restart air services from the city.
KEEP IT: Jed Griffiths
Jed Griffiths, a Plymothian and former president of the Royal Town Planning Institute, urges the city to keep its airport.
PLYMOUTH is at a crossroads in its history.
When I began my planning career at Plymouth City Council in the late 1960s there was so much optimism about the future of the city and its place in the regional and national economy.
In more recent times it has been marginalised, not only because of the economic downturn, but also because of a fixation by the Government on London and the South East.
The abandonment of regional planning by the coalition has meant that the role of regional airports has been minimalised in the national airports debate, which is concentrated on London.
I agree with Cllr Tudor Evans that the provision of an airport in Plymouth is a strategic planning issue.
In my view it is vital to the future economy of the city.
With the proposals put forward by the Viable group, with an extended runway, there would be enhanced linkages between Plymouth and London, the rest of the UK, and – more importantly – European destinations.
If Viable is successful their development could deliver the policy set out in the council’s core strategy and help to maintain and strengthen Plymouth’s place in the South West economy.
In a tough economic climate, Plymouth must fight its corner vigorously.
If the airport is removed, it is gone for ever – and with it a building block for the city’s regeneration.
REDEVELOP IT: Neill Mitchell
Neill Mitchell, veteran independent transport analyst, says Plymouth should look east.
FRANKLY, I think the airport has long been a lost cause, notably ever since the failure of the parliamentary initiative in respect of Harrowbeer back in the 1960s.
Exeter International has now grown beyond all expectation (to Plymouth’s benefit) and should next modify its Companies House registered name of “Exeter & Devon Airport Ltd” to embrace its full stakeholder market catchment as “Devon International Airport”.
It was, after all, the Devon County ratepayers who subsidised its survival for 50 years, prior to privatisation.
In my opinion, there are only three circumstances which would empower Plymouth City Airport to be “viable”:
1. Ring fencing of landing slots on the proposed Runway 3 at Heathrow exclusively for regional air services. (We have allies in other distant regions pushing for this)
2. Designation of new landing slots at the proposed “Boris Island” re-located London international airport for regional air services.
3. Further development in the USA (for civil aviation application) of the pathfinder “Osprey” tilt-rotor vertical take-off and landing aircraft. This is perhaps still years or more from full civil airworthiness certification.
Otherwise, we should push hard for the renaming of “Devon International Airport” (despite the outright opposition which would result from the City of Exeter lobby.
TOMORROW: The view from Viable – the company that wants to reopen the airport