Farnborough Airport application for expansion rejected

11.11.2009         see also an excellent report on Indymedia at    


11.11.2009 (Get Hampshire)   TAG Farnborough Airport loses bid for expansion
By Pete Castle and Jack Sommers

TAG Farnborough Airport has failed to get the support it needed from councillors
for its plans to expand  the number of flights.

Airport owner and operator TAG  asked  Rushmoor’s planning committee for permission  to
raise the number of take-offs and landings from 28,000 to 50,000.

But despite advice from planning officers and a panel of aviation experts  who
urged elected members to back the proposals, councillors voted overwhelmingly
to block the move.

TAG said the increase would  bring thousands of new jobs to the area and would
help the economy,  while noise, the risk of a crash and pollution would not  adversely  affect
people living nearby.

However, protesters disagreed, and their concerns won over councillors who voted
7-1 in favour of binning the proposal.

Appeal risk

TAG may now appeal against  the decision.   Such a move is likely to lead to another
lengthy and expensive public inquiry which will have to be paid for by council
tax payers in Aldershot and Farnborough.

The council’s head of planning, Keith Holland, who endorsed the report recommending
that the increase should be allowed, warned the politicians that in his opinion,
any appeal by TAG into their decision would probably succeed.

The last appeal by TAG in 2007 to increase the number of weekend flights from
2,500 to 5,000 a year cost the council £110,000 in consultants and legal fees

After the meeting, Geoff Marks, chairman of the Farnborough Airfield Residents’ Association, who has led the campaign against the plans, said he felt vindicated in his
opposition and said he was “looking forward” to fighting an appeal.

For full details and analysis of what the decision means for the future of Farnborough
and the surrounding towns, see the News & Mail out on Friday, November 20.


7pm – The debate is under way, with Rushmoor’s head of planning Keith Holland
outlining the reasons why the council believes TAG should be allowed to almost
double its flights to 50,000 a year. It’s standing room only at the back of the
public gallery, with around 100 people at the meeting to hear the debate.

7.30pm – Speakers against the  plans begin their efforts to persuade the politicians
that the experts have got it wrong. First up, Farnborough resident Andrew Bower
expresses his concern that a crash could happen to a plane taking off or landing.
He sits down to rapturous applause.

7.39pm – Majit Dhamrait, from Farnborough, says: “The noise levels are horrendous.”

7.43pm – Hart councillor Jenny Radley, from the Fleet and Church Crookham Civic
Society, focuses her opposition on public safety issues.

7.49pm – Geoff Marks, chairman of the Farnborough Aerodrome Residents’ Association,
asks the planning committee to delay the decision until they have better information.
He accuses Rushmoor’s planning  officers of ignoring the advice of their own air
safety experts. He said: “Don’t leave it to others to defend your judgement, as
they would have to should a crash occur.”

7.55pm – Clive Thomas, a resident of Kempton Court, Farnborough, says the smell
of aviation fuel affects asthmatics in his home. “Sometimes the smell of aviation
fuel is that thick that it burns your eyes and mouth,” he said.

8pm – Brian Fyfe, a Farnborough resident, said the impact of noise was like “water
torture” and questioned the impact of the increase in flights on children’s education.
“Children might not go deaf, but they might go daft,” he said. “Every time a plane
goes over I have to stop speaking – I will have to that more times, and more times.”

8.05pm – Gordon Keyte, of the Crondall Society, says residents in Crondall already
suffer from flights of military helicopters from RAF Odiham. “Why should we be
made subject to more noise  for the benefit of the few?” he asked the meeting.  

8.10pm – Celia Hayden-Cook, from Seale, says that  homeowners are unable to sell
their houses as buyers are put off by the prospect of extra flights. “It’s naive
for people to expect this will stop. They will be back in two years asking for
more [flights]. It’s only going to get worse.”

8.16pm – Get Hampshire reporter suffers computer crash. Apologies to David Mansfield,
who said  some interesting  things.  To find out what, and for a full analysis of
the  night’s decision, see  next week’s News & Mail,  out on Friday, November

8.22pm – Kevin Daley from Mytchett is up now. He’s talking about the effects
of noise on children’s cognitive abilities.

8.28pm – Brian Townley, councillor from Surrey Heath, says planners from Camberley
disagree with their colleagues in Farnborough.

8.34pm – Richard Appleton, from Hart District Council, says Fleet planners also
disagree with the Rushmoor report.

8.40pm – David Stewart, from the South East England Development Agency, sits
down to boos from the audience after suggesting that
the economy of the region would benefit from a bigger airport.

8.44pm – Guy Lachlan, from British Business General Aviation, suggests that business
jets are as clean as cars and are “very quiet” – a suggestion that raises hollow
laughs from the audience. He sits down to a slow clap and chairman John Marsh
has to call for order.

8.49pm – Marwan Khalek, chief executive of Gama Aviation, a Farnborough Airport-based
jet company, says private jets are not just for celebrities but are essential
for the UK and local economy.

8.53pm – Brandon O’Reilly, chief executive of TAG Farnborough Airport, says the
airport has consulted widely on its expansion, and the new 50,000 limit would
lead to a significant benefits to the area.

8.58pm – That’s the end of the public speaking – now the experts are clarifying
some issues…

9.10pm – George Paparesti (Con, Manor Park) – says he will be voting AGAINST
the proposal.

9.15pm – Adam Jackman (Con, Knellwood) – says he also will be voting AGAINST
the increase of flights. It’s not looking good for TAG. Both councillors have
so far sat down to  keen applause.

9.22pm – Sue Dibble (Lab, North Town) – she’s “really sadly unable to support
the application this evening” and therefore AGAINST.

9.28pm – Craig Card (Lib Dem, Mayfield) – he’s not making his voting position
clear but wants to change weekend flight limits. Head of planning Keith Holland
says it’s “all or nothing”.

9.31pm – Ken Muschamp (Con, Fernhill) – wants to support jobs, says he “doesn’t
really understand” risk contours but doesn’t think Farnborough Airport passengers
are contributing to the local economy. He’s going to vote AGAINST.

9.44pm – Gareth Lyon (Con, Empress) – says he supports TAG but feels that the
will of the people should hold sway. Is voting AGAINST

9.52pm – Brian Parker (Con, Empress) – will vote AGAINST the application, but
is keen to put the BBC and ITV reporters right on their terminology. That’s six
votes against – TAG has lost. Brandon O’Reilly, TAG’s boss sitting in the front
row, looks stoney faced. Geoff Marks, the chairman of the residents’ association
that opposed the plan, sitting a few seats away, is positively beaming.

10.02pm – Charlie Fraser-Fleming (Lib Dem, Mayfield) – is concerned about safety.
But after a long speech he says he will vote FOR the increase in flights.

10.17pm – Steve Smith (Con, West Heath) – asks about the current flight numbers
but gives no indication of his voting intentions.

10.18pm – Peter Crerar (Con, Manor Park) – says parts of Rushmoor will benefit
from more flights.

10.30pm – Head of planning Keith Holland is summing up, but says that he feels
that while councillors look set to vote against the application, the likelihood
is that their decision  will be overturned at an appeal.


In favour: 1

Against: 7

Abstentions: 3

Check www.gethampshire.co.uk for video reports, and see the News & Mail, out on Friday, November 20,
to find out how this decision will affect your town