A packed first ten months for the APPG on GA

Who we are and what we do
This All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was set up in February 2017 to become the voice of General Aviation in Parliament.

We support the Government’s official objective of making the United Kingdom the best country in the world for General Aviation. But we know there’s a long way to go! Our General Aviation focus also supports the wider aviation sector; worth a staggering £60bn a year to the UK economy.

The 2017 General Election caused us a few months delay, so we really started to get organised in July 2017, just 10 months ago. We now have 155 parliamentary members across all parties and both Houses of Parliament. This makes us the largest All-Party Group in this Parliament. And they’re an influential bunch, including many former Cabinet Ministers, 3 former Transport Ministers and even a current party leader. Our Chair is The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP.

The Department for Transport is of course the main Whitehall sponsor for aviation, but until we got going it was difficult to get them involved. That has all changed with real engagement from Secretary of State Chris Grayling and Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg. They have appointed the first ever General Aviation Champion for the Department to directly advise ministers. This is former MP and our first APPG Chair, Byron Davies. Together, we are battling the case for General Aviation across Whitehall and we are at last starting to see dividends.

What’s new?
In our last update we had set up four Working Group covering Airfields, Airspace, Tax & Regulations and Heritage. Each Group has been putting in hundreds of hours determining how policy should change to support General Aviation.

Where can I find the detail?
You can download the Works Programme for each of the first four Working Groups on our website: http://www.GeneralAviationAPPG.uk/working-groups

What has been achieved so far?
Quite a lot and you can keep updated by reading the News Page on our website or our Twitter profile. We are also grateful to the aviation media who help get our messages across. However, here’s a synopsis:

In March we asked you for support for our proposed changes to the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The Government had already recognised General Aviation for the first time in a new paragraph 105f of this all-important draft planning document. However, we wanted to tweak that paragraph and add three other pro-General Aviation changes. That consultation has now closed, we have received some positive feedback and we await final publication around July. This vital document could help protect and promote General Aviation airfields into the future.

Also in March, we wrote to the Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg, setting out our concerns regarding the large number of airfields currently under threat of closure. We attached a comprehensive list of these airfields, and this has led to productive discussions with the Minister. A copy of the letter can be found here.

In April we held the inaugural meeting of the Heritage Working Group. The expertise on this group is extensive and supported by the likes of The Imperial War Museum, Aviation Heritage UK, Aircraft Restorations and Navy Heritage to name just a few. Details of their work programme can be found here.

The same month we were contacted by many individuals and organisations regarding the Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) around RAF Brize Norton and London Oxford Airport. Our Airspace Working Group were very proactive in producing responses to the two consultations, which can be read here.

Our Brize Norton/Oxford consultation responses were submitted just as Exeter saw their Class D ACP proposal rejected by the CAA, in part because of a lack of General Aviation consideration. This sends a strong message to airports that it is no longer acceptable for General Aviation to be ignored in the airspace planning process.

Also in April we received a reply to our submissions to the then-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. For the first time, this letter promises a more balanced approach to development, explicitly recognising the importance of General Aviation for the first time. This important letter is well worth a read here.

Around the same time, the Aviation Minster also provided an update on what the General Aviation Champion is working on. We welcome her possible solutions, and are pushing her to introduce the measures outlined in her letter, which can be read here.

In April we also wrote to the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP, regarding the disposal of 15 military aerodromes across the country. In a productive follow-up meeting with Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood, we received an undertaking that the Ministry of Defence would review these disposals. Our letter can be read in full here.

In May, we received clarification from the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP regarding residential developments within aerodrome boundaries. The Minister has given such developments the green-light, meaning Border Force has no objections to ‘hangar homes’ being built at airfields. Read the full story here.

Also in May the then-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Savid Javid MP, was appointed Home Secretary. His replacement is the former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire MP. We wrote to Mr Brokenshire congratulating him on his appointment, and brought him up to speed on the important work of the APPG. Read our letter to the new Secretary of State here.

Late in May our Heritage Working Group met with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The meeting was positive and we look forward to working with the Secretary of State on the important issues facing our heritage aviation sector.

The all-party group has also recently written to the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary, urging them to award ‘official safeguarding’ status to all licensed aerodromes in the United Kingdom. Details of what this would mean and a copy of our letter can be found here.

Finally we wrote to the new CEO of the Civil Aviation Authority, Richard Moriarty, welcoming him to his new position and asking him how he “intends to ensure that General Aviation needs are understood and addressed” in airspace strategy. In the letter, members of the Airspace Working Group say they are “disappointed” that their efforts to discuss the growth in controlled airspace with the Civil Aviation Authority have been rebuffed. The full letter to Richard Moriarty can be read here.

Comments

  1. I can only say “about time”, having steadily watched the GA sector of British Aviation become the poor relation of the demands of the airlines.
    I am also pleased to see that the CAA are now going to be taken to task after the fiasco in Licencing over the past 15 years.
    That whole situation needs a completely new approach and rethink. Perhaps, even if we don’t leave the EU, we might now get rid of it’s corrosive, ill-considered over-regulation.

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