Thousands respond to big South Downs airspace proposal

JPCT 060614 S14240441x Storrington. Parham gliding club grounds -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140606-140554001
JPCT 060614 S14240441x Storrington. Parham gliding club grounds -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140606-140554001

Twelve MPs, South Downs National Park Authority, Goodwood Airfield and more than 3,000 people have responded to a private airport’s proposal to control a vast amount of airspace across the Downs.

As the consultation period for Farnborough Airport’s application comes to an end, a torrent of objections have flooded in opposing the controversial air space request.

The proposal which plans to lower and narrow the airspace spanning West Sussex, South Downs National Park and Hampshire, would allow private aircraft to make uninterrupted journeys across the designated area.

A spokesperson for Southdown Gliding Club (SGC) in Coolham, just outside Storrington, said the proposal is only for the benefit of the ‘wealthy and famous’ and could ‘kill’ the activities of the club. They also claimed that this move will force other aircraft to fly lower increasing aircraft noise for residents living in the South Downs.

A spokesman for the club said: “These proposals are just like a limousine company buying up two lanes of the M25 exclusively for the benefit of the wealthy and famous.

“If such proposals, as they stand, go ahead not only will safety and noise be an issue but there could be huge economic problems for Goodwood and Shoreham airports due to aircraft being put off visiting the south coast due to these risks.

“The proposals could also kill the activities of the SGC. This is the biggest threat to general aviation in the south”.

The General Aviation Alliance (GAA) and the British Gliding Association have claimed that the proposals could significantly increase the risks of mid-air collisions by forcing aircraft to fly in much smaller ‘corridors’ of free airspace.

The consultation attracted well over 3,000 replies. They include those from 12 MPs, the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), Goodwood Airfield, West Sussex residents, and many pilots of gliders and light aircraft.

The SGC spokesperson continued: “SDNPA are especially concerned.

“One of their goals is to create a park of tranquillity and the potential increased noise is of real concern to them.”

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has also lodged his objection and written formally to the Civil Aviation Authority (CCA) to ask them to dismiss such proposals which could have a ‘devastating effect’ especially on the activities of the SCG, one of the oldest of its type in the country.

The owners of Farnborough, TAG, will now consider the responses and submit their proposal to the CAA.

The SGC spokesperson said they have ‘faith’ that the CAA have studied all the consultation policies and will do the ‘right thing’ for the club and other General Aviation users.

They said: “General Aviation activity is very important to the UK because it is this community which provides the inspiration for and the basic training of pilots.

“It also includes the emergency services and police helicopters, hot air balloons, gliders, and the aircraft which fly at air displays.

“If General Aviation were to suffer at the hands of a few private and non-UK owned companies such as the TAG corporation, then many peoples’ lives will be made poorer as a result and our aviation heritage will suffer greatly.”

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