No Fairoaks New Town
Over the years we have ticked off many airfields and rarely revisit because there is always somewhere new to fly too. However, we have frequently chatted to fellow aviators and ground crew on our travels and heard stories of woe where developers are trying to get their hands on airfields both small and large. Whilst we have always felt very sorry for all involved, we have always comforted ourselves with the fact that Fairoaks was safe. How wrong we were.
I can remember hearing that Panshanger was having troubles and we quickly flew in, when we got there all seemed well and they were talking about a reprieve, but then it closed. Manston was completely different in every way but suffered the same fate.
As we fly over southern England, and especially East Anglia, you can see the scars of disused WW2 airfields either ploughed up or being used for storage and there is an understanding that they couldn’t all survive but I should think there is a tale behind each one of a band of people trying to save the runway. Indeed, we have visited many airfields where just one small part remains.
However, picture an airport that employs 300 people; has more annual movements than its neighbour, Farnborough; is open 24/7 for medical flights; the hangars are full and outside parking for aircraft is at full capacity. Then become aware that the joint owners have suggested to the local council that it is ripe for housing development and very quietly a bid is put forward for Fairoaks Garden Village!
Thank goodness the government turned down the Garden Village proposal in the first round but that is not the end of the story. Somehow, the local council have been led to believe that the airport is loss making and ‘redundant’. The threat of development lives on!
In Surrey there are 3 main airfields –Dunsfold, no longer active for flying but earmarked for housing; Redhill, also under threat and Fairoaks. General Aviation could be lost in this part of the world.
I have got involved in the fight but it is a roller coaster of a ride. For every high there is a low and I am totally unimpressed with local politics. A band of aviators, local residents and supporters are fighting to get the local council to debate the future of the site (which is situated in the Green Belt) and are trying to gather signatures on a petition before 24.6.17.
If you read this before that date please sign here and don’t forget to open the response email, or visit here for details of the latest news of the campaign.
The list of airfields under threat is endless. It’s going to be a long haul but let’s hope that eventually the plight of General Aviation nationwide will be recognised and support will be given to all of those many airfields that are fighting to survive.