full paper can be viewed on-line here.
The section on General Aviation can be viewed here.
Amongst other things, the white paper will need to
consider aviation's effect on policies of local authorities and Regional
The consultation paper recognises the fact that
GA is being squeezed out of larger/regional airports. It also recognises the restriction
and loss of smaller airports. The benefit of GA to local and regional economies is
highlighted. Also highlighted is the current difficulties surrounding noise issues, but it
re-affirms the planning system as the means to address this.
Specific questions that comments are being
sought relating to GA are:-
a) Should Government policy on general aviation
build upon PPG13, perhaps with stronger guidelines about what should constitute suitable
facilities for general aviation?
b) Will it be possible to allow business
aviation access to major airports where there is a pressing need to make the most
efficient use of limited capacity?
How should you respond?
The most important issue that needs to be
addressed is that there is no unified national policy on aerodromes.
General aviation plays an important role in local and regional economies, in the national
transport infrastructure, and in the national need for pilots. However, planning policy
for GA facilities is in the hands of local authorities, and the national importance of the
role of GA is not reflected in local planning requirements.
In determining planning policy, local
authorities are required to be guided by government planning policy guidelines (PPG's).
PPG13 recognises the importance of smaller
aerodromes in serving "...local business needs, especially in outlying areas, as well
as recreational flying." It also urges local authorities to take account of
GA's contribution to "...local and regional economies and the benefits of having
suitable facilities within a reasonable distance of each sizeable centre of
Whilst the latest draft revision of PPG13 also
recognises training and emergency services and the benefit of GA to the need for national
pilot training, it still does not require the local authority to consider GA
facilities as part of the national transport infrastructure.
Without the need to consider the greater
picture, local authorities become excessively sensitive to purely local issues.
Thus the part an aerodrome plays in the national transport infrastructure becomes of
secondary importance to local financial or housing priorities that can often be met by
redeveloping the aerodrome. Thus also the strident protests of a local minority are
increasingly allowed to degrade the national network of smaller aerodromes.
This latter is compounded by problems with
current guidance on noise (PPG24). This is an imperfect guide and less than clear in
respect of GA developments. The situation is made worse for GA by the aviation authority's
refusal to accept silencer fits that have been certified elsewhere in Europe.
The number of GA related planning applications
which succeed is well below the figure for all categories of application. However, the
number of GA cases which subsequently succeed in appeal is higher than for all other
categories. The implication is that local authority planning departments are not
sufficiently informed to decide on GA issues and this underlines the need for stronger
policy and guidance relating to GA.
As access to larger aerodromes is denied and
smaller aerodromes are restricted or closed, displaced flyers and schools seek alternative
facilities. This has a domino effect which brings yet more GA facilities under pressure. The
loss of aerodrome facilities should be managed in the context of providing alternative
facilities, either at existing sites or on new sites.
It can not be emphasised enough - GA facilities
are a national resource and must be treated by local authorities within the context of a
strong central policy which safeguards and nurtures their national contribution.
Facts and figures
Research based on aviation charts, flight
guides, and historical works shows that since 1985 the number of licensed GA friendly
aerodromes which are so vital for commercial activities, including pilot training, has
declined by 20%.
In 1988 43% of all pilots entering the air
transport industry (i.e. commercial pilots) came from the private flying/club sector.
Currently this figure is in the region of 60%.
Compared to the UK commercial fleet of 850
aircraft, the UK GA fleet stands at more than 10,000 aircraft.
More than 70% of all GA activity has some
business or safety purpose. 85% of all airline seats are sold for pleasure purposes.
While local authorities grant 87% of all
applications, they grant only 37% of applications for GA developments. While the Planning
Inspectorate allow 33% of all appeals, they allow 57% of GA related appeals.