EXETER AIRPORT’S AMBITIOUS PLANS FOR GROWTH REVEALED
2.7.2008 (Exeter Express and Echo)
BY JOANNE COCHRANE
Exeter International Airport bosses have finally unveiled their vision of how
it will develop over the next 20 years.
By 2030, they hope the airport will cater for three times as many passengers
as now, offer more flights to Canada and the United States and create hundreds
more jobs locally. It also aims to be carbon neutral by 2015 through a far-reaching
package of green measures.
Airport chiefs have confirmed there will be no new runway, although there will
be an extension of the landing strip – something which could pave the way for
They say there will also be slight increases in night flights and noise.
The proposals are among those outlined in the airport’s delayed draft master
plan, which is published today and is available for public consultation until
The 88-page document predicts the airport will see 3.4m passengers by 2030. Last
year, there were 14,000 “air traffic movements” – takeoffs and landings. By 2015,
this is expected to rise to 25,000 and by 2030, 38,000.
To cope with the numbers, the airport says it will invest about £100m in improvements,
and it is buying surplus land from nearby farmers to expand capacity.
Most of the new development will take place to the south although flying schools,
business aviation and the Royal Mail operations will be moved to an enhanced area
at the north side.
Bosses have also made provision for Flybe, one of the airport’s biggest employers.
They have pledged to develop part for the airline’s training academy.
It is also making provision for new engineering and maintenance workshops.
However, bosses say they will do everything possible to make sure the airport
is as sustainable as possible. They have committed to:
– Develop on-site renewable energy resources.
– Increase the amount of waste being recycled by 30 per cent.
– Reduce waste per passenger by 50 per cent by 2015.
– Encourage a greater use of public transport, reducing reliance on private car
journeys by 60 per cent by 2030.
The master plan states that overall ground noise levels will increase by 2030
but are “not expected to exceed recognised daytime environmental noise limits”.
It measures noise by a series of contours and reckons that by 2030, an extra
110 homes will end up in the 57db group – the zone where people begin to experience
the “onset of significant community annoyance”.
Development director Clive Coleman said management wanted to make Exeter the
“airport of choice” for people in the South West.
He said: “There are about 800,000 people within one hour’s driving time who are
the core market for the airport.
“We’re currently picking up 26 per cent of these people. The rest are going to
Bristol or London. By 2030 we want to see that go up to 55 per cent. We believe
the population of the South West will continue to grow.
“The airport currently contributes around £105m to the local economy. By 2030,
we hope this will be £270m and 5,500 jobs.
“We will continue to improve our network to Europe.
“There will be no new runway. We will invest in a short extension to the current
“There will be virtually no increase in night flights. At the moment it’s mainly
Royal Mail flights and ad hoc charters. There are no scheduled late-night flights.
“There might be an increase to 2030 of between six and eight night flights.”
He added: “We know the airport visually is a bit of a ramshackle collection of
buildings. We want to tidy it up.
“What we are going to do is have some form of competition next year with local
and national design firms to help us.
“We want to be carbon neutral by 2015. We are looking at sustainable buildings.
We have already replaced some diesel cars with electric cars and as soon as our
current power contract comes to an end we will be looking at getting a high percentage
of heat from underground sources. We support Devon’s vision of being a green county.”
On the direction of the airport’s expansion, Mr Coleman added: “We think it’s
better to develop the south. Most of the infrastructure is already to the south.
“We are very keen for small businesses – such as the flying schools – to stay.
We are keen they have better facilities. They will probably be moved to the north
of the airport.”
The master plan was originally due to be published by Balfour Beatty-owned Regional
and City Airports at the beginning of the year, following the firm’s £60m purchase
of Exeter Airport from Devon County Council in January, 2007, but has been hit
by a series of delays while bosses fine-tuned it.
Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said: “It’s incredibly
exciting to finally see the wraps coming off the long-awaited master plan.
“There are no real surprises. They are making a really big statement – that they
believe Exeter has a really fantastic future.
“I am pleased they are supportive of Flybe and its training programmes. I’m also
pleased they have handled things from an environmental perspective.
“Here is one of the biggest firms in the country committing themselves to a £100m
investment in Exeter.
“I’m pleased they’ve worked out the benefits they will bring to Exeter in terms
of employment, both directly and indirectly.”
Derek Phillips, chairman of the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are very
pleased that the draft master plan has at last been published. We welcome the
opportunity to consult on this.
“The business community considers a regional airport to be essential for the
future prosperity of the region.
“We think the aspirations for growth are reasonable and sustainable.
“We’re also pleased they’ve recognised the importance of inbound tourism both
from the UK and Europe and that they have recognised the airport as being a large
“We’re pleased to see the Flybe training academy has been incorporated into the
plans. We think Skypark and Science Park will be greatly enhanced by the nearby
location of a robust airport.”
A Flybe spokeswoamn said: “We are delighted that the master plan is out and we
are looking forward to commenting further once we have had an opportunity to read
But Maurice Spurway, of Exeter Friends of the Earth – which has been involved in a long-running campaign against the airport’s expansion
– said his group would fight the master plan to its “hilt”.
He added: “I would be very surprised if they could ever be carbon neutral. The
rest of the UK is having to cut its carbon footprint and yet we still allow airports
“We have just hit our peak oil supplies. Where do airlines think they are going
to get fuel to fly? Then there is noise. People are complaining about noise
at the moment.”
The master plan does not confer any sort of planning consent – airport officials
will still need to apply to East Devon District Council for planning permission
before undertaking any improvements.
Copies of the master plan are available at www.exeter-airport.co.uk/masterplan .
They can also be obtained by phoning 01392 354999 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
A series of exhibitions will also take place over the coming weeks and the document
itself will be on view at the airport.
|I live in London under the Heathrow flight path. I visited Exeter earlier this
year. I come to the West Country because I appreciate its peace and quiet. Just
what does the airport think it is doing? The expansion will take away the very
tranquillity people like me come to the West Country for. Whatever the alleged
benefits to jobs and the economy – and, if Heathrow is anything to go by, they
are probably exagerated – if airport expansion goes ahead I for one will not be
visiting the Exeter area again. And all this expansion is being proposed at the
very time that oil prices are soaring. The suspicion must be that the airport
and the airlines want to make a quick buck over the next few years before cheap
flights become a thing of the past. They don’t really care about Exeter, jobs
or the local economy. All those fine words are just a cover-up for the fact they
want a to make a quich profit before rising oil prices threaten to put them out
John Stewart, London