GAAC outlines plan to protect airfields

The General Aviation Awareness Council (GAAC) believes current protection of GA aerodromes is ‘clearly inadequate’ and has come up with a plan to help save threatened UK airfields.

GAAC is suggesting a fourth category of land should be added to three proposed in the Govt’s Planning White Paper, published last August.

The White Paper focuses on streamlining the planning process and speeding up the provision of new housing. At the heart of this Paper was a proposal to create three Zones:

  • Growth: areas suitable for substantial development
  • Renewal: areas suitable for development
  • Protected: restricted development.

However, GAAC believes there should be a fourth: Infrastructure.

“Without an Infrastructure category,” suggests GAAC, “airfields would be deemed Protected, rendering them unable to evolve and become commercially viable, and leaving them even more vulnerable to housing developers.”

John Gilder, GAAC vice-chairman and chairman of the APPG-GA’s Airfields Working Group, added, “Aerodromes constitute a huge resource – contributing to connectivity and transport needs, facilitating business aviation, flying training, STEM-related training and jobs, supporting emergency services and charities, offering recreational, leisure and sporting facilities.

“A combination of the demand for housing and the perception that airfields are underused, cheap land ripe for development due to a lack of planning protection has meant a large number of aerodrome sites have already been lost. Many others (50 plus) are under threat.”

GAAC would like to see strategically important aviation infrastructure sites supported by planning policy which gives general protection and a general principle that additional related development should normally be allowed.

It warns the UK could repeat mistakes similar to those that led to the closure of many railway branch lines in the 1960s.

General Aviation Awareness Council



  1. Some years ago I was attending a district council planning meeting on another matter. One guy, keen to sell his land to a developer was full of how it was poor quality agricultural land. As a passing comment he said that in WW2 the Americans had built an airfield and left behind a hangar. Luckily a friend was with me and held me down and pointed out we were not allowed to speak, she almost had her hand over my mouth. That hangar was, and still is, full of active aircraft, is surrounded by more hangars as part of a very active airfield training pilots up to CPL, along with plenty of private aircraft, has a restaurant and bar with excellent bacon butties and an aircraft maintenance unit. All that seem to have missed the landowners perception! Hopefully the new Aviation Minister, Robert Courts, is aware of the economic importance of such airfields to the country.

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