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22/05/01 GAAC Seminar Notes
Safeguarding is Vital

Philip Isbell BSc(Hons) LL.B(Hons) MRTPI
Director RJI Planning

Safeguarding might more easily be thought of as protecting the airspace around an aerodrome from obstruction. CAP168 (Licensing of Aerodromes) and CAP428 (Safety Standards at Unlicensed Aerodromes) both require "obstacle limitation surfaces" to be protected. The calculation of obstacle limitation surfaces depends on runway length and nature of aircraft operations. However, the principle is the same – at any particular point in the aerodrome vicinity the obstacle limitation surface represents the height above ground level above which any structure will infringe the aerodrome airspace.

Of course it is the local authority who will ultimately decide on planning permission for the housing estate, phone mast, waste incinerator etc that will potentially infringe the aerodrome airspace. Safeguarding therefore is basically an act of co-ordination between aerodrome and local planning authority. It is indeed the aerodrome’s responsibility to look after its own safeguarding and even the 40 or so aerodromes officially safeguarded by the CAA are being introduced to the concept of "self-safeguarding" which all other aerodromes, in theory at least, should already be aware of.

Aerodromes are encouraged to stake their claim to obstacle free airspace by lodging a safeguarding map with their local planning authority. This is an exercise best done as early as possible, and every effort needs to be made to have this map recognised and acknowledged in the local authority Structure Plan, Local Plan and Waste or Minerals Plan. In this way the planning system will in theory be able to recognise when a proposed development is likely to infringe aerodrome airspace and address the situation before it becomes a problem. In reality a certain amount of monitoring may be required in order to ensure the council consults with the aerodrome on any relevant development proposal. Trying to lodge objections to a proposed development that is already well advanced, possibly with sophisticated and well resourced developers already committed, is a good deal more difficult.

Safeguarding maps do not necessarily have to be restricted to obstacle limitation surfaces and bird strike hazards as laid down in CAP168. Other constraints, such as congested areas, engine failure on take off, Letter of Agreement can also be recorded on the safeguarding map. If a particular type of development could be a problem to an aerodrome, the advice is to highlight it on the map. The map itself need not be overly complicated, and the CAA currently produce theirs in simplified form based on an Ordnance Survey grid squares.

The proposal to introduce "self-safeguarding" for the 40 or so aerodromes currently officially safeguarded by the CAA is set out in a new DETR consultation paper. Unfortunately, these new proposals do not carry forward the provisions for unofficial safeguarding available in the present regulations and under which all other aerodromes could be safeguarded. The fear is that this development could lead local authorities to assume that the CAA no longer approves of unofficial safeguarding for the vast majority of aerodromes, and deny the only mechanism these aerodromes have of protecting local airspace from obstructions. The GAAC is making strenuous objections to this omission.

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Notes taken at the GAAC seminar;
"The Future for UK Aerodromes"
4th May 2001
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sm_bull.jpg (515 bytes)Bleak Future
sm_bull.jpg (515 bytes)White Waltham
sm_bull.jpg (515 bytes)Little Gransden
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