Lobbying for general aviation this way really is cricket, the new APPG’s ‘chair’, former cabinet minister and CAA Red Tape Challenge instigator Grant Shapps MP assures Pilot.
Giving a welcome voice to GA in Westminster, the group’s mission statement reads: ‘The All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation promotes the objective – as set out by British Government – of making the United Kingdom the best country in the world for General Aviation, and to stimulate interest in the sector’.
‘Our goal is to ensure that General Aviation inspires both current and future generations to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics, thereby creating high-tech jobs and growth in all nations and regions of our economy.
‘In order to achieve this objective, the All-Party Parliamentary Group believes that a network of General Aviation airfields must be protected and enhanced by the government.’
Members of both Houses of Parliament are able to join APPGs. While it was known that a small number of MPs hold pilot’s licences and operate private aircraft, according to the group’s website www.generalaviationappg.uk the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation has now attracted a record 49 parliamentary members
They say this reflects ‘the importance attached to promoting jobs and growth through General Aviation in Great Britain and Northern Ireland today by this current parliament’.
The group has already been active in voicing its concerns over development near Shoreham airport and has written to the Secretaries of State for Transport and Communities and Local Government, outlining the existential crisis facing the GA sector and detailing five key areas that Government should urgently address ‘to avoid the loss of an important part of the UK’s economy’.
In a letter addressed to Chris Grayling MP, Transport Secretary, and Sajid Javid MP, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Grant Shapps explained that there are a series of challenges which present a ‘perfect storm’ for GA – from the closing down of airfield assets across the county, to the uneven playing field for pilot training (not the least factor being VAT!) and airspace restrictions.
The APPG is calling on the Government to urgently address five areas of policy which would ensure the sector’s survival, including:
– Removing airfields from ‘brownfield’ status in the National Planning Policy Framework
– Identifying a strategic network of General Aviation airfields to give stability and certainty to businesses and jobs which depend on them
– Giving the Civil Aviation Authority a broader safeguarding role to prevent nearby developments from putting pressure on airfields to cease activities