The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on General Aviation has revealed its contribution to the draft National Planning Policy Framework just published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Thanks to the APPG’s input, for the first time national planning policy is set to ‘recognise the importance and maintaining and enhancing a national network of general aviation facilities – taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs, and the Government’s General Aviation Strategy’.

Neither the estimated £3bn contribution GA makes to the UK economy nor the GA Strategy was recognised in past national planning policy.

Significantly, GA airfields have been added to the list of business and community facilities, including places of worship, pubs, music venues and sports clubs, that ‘should not have unreasonable restrictions placed upon them as a result of development permitted after they were established’.

In the past many airfields have suffered as a result of complaints made by people moving in to new housing nearby, rather in the manor of those who buy a house near a church and complain about the noise of the bells.

A definition of what constitutes a GA airfield now figures in the glossary, and ‘land that is or has been used for general aviation purposes’ has been excluded from what is defined as ‘previously developed land’ (giving it the same level of protection as land previously occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings and areas such as parks and recreation grounds).

Chair of the 148-strong parliamentary group, Grant Shapps MP, said: “Whilst it’s great to have General Aviation recognised in the National Planning Policy Framework for the very first time, this won’t solve the problem of a diminishing airfield network.

“If we are to maintain and enhance our position and deliver the government’s own stated objective of being the best country in the world for General Aviation, then the NPPF needs to make four further small changes. That is why I have written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, asking for these simple amendments that would make all the difference.

“Ministers do recognise that the future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs are at stake. This consultation provides General Aviation’s chance to make sure we get this right as a nation for future generations. Now we need everyone who cares about General Aviation to take a couple of minutes to respond.”

The APPG is asking all parts of the General Aviation community to back the proposed amendments by visiting today. The whole process takes less than sixty seconds, but could keep General Aviation vibrant for future generations. The consultation closes on 10th May 2017.

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