FlyPlymouth, the organisation seeking to re-open Plymouth Airport in the UK, has launched a second fundraising campaign which will run through to October 29, 2016. It is seeking to raise £75,000 to provide the pre-revenue company with operational funding as well as a ‘war chest’ as it prepares for an important planning battle to get Plymouth City Airport re-opened – initially for general and business aviation flights.
The project is an ‘all embracing’ community initiative with the intention that the freehold will be transferred out of the commercial sector. The group behind FlyPlymouth ran a petition in 2012, collecting positive signatures from 38,000 people. “This showed us that 15% of Plymouth people are in favour of re- opening the airport and we are confident that more will come forward in the next round, largely because of the so-called Brexit bounce,” said FlyPlymouth Chief Executive Raoul Witherall.
Importantly, Plymouth City Council responded to the Group’s earlier efforts (between 2011-2014) by stating that the airport is to be safeguarded in the Draft Plymouth Plan for aviation use between now and 2031. “The Plymouth Plan specifies only GA, but leaves the opportunity for scheduled operations open [in the longer term],” Mr Witherall added.
“It is now clear that 2017 will be the deciding year in the story of Plymouth airport as a Planning Inspector will decide whether the City Council’s Plymouth Plan Policy to allocate the airport for aviation use between now and 2031 is sound policy.”
FlyPlymouth will seek to participate in the Examination in Public. It says it is vital that the case for aviation be made forcefully and coherently and FlyPlymouth is putting together its team and funding to make that case. Once the Examination is complete, the airport will have to be sold either as an airport or as development land. FlyPlymouth and Plymouth City Council are both confident that it should remain as an airport.
“The move to raise a larger fund is necessary to cover operational costs for the coming year, to pay for legal and aviation experts to help protect the airport at the Examination in Public. And we are putting down a marker by beginning to assemble our transactional funds to pay for costs involved in acquiring the airport once that Examination in Public is complete.
Grant Shapps’ British Infrastructure Group of 42 MPs has identified Plymouth Airport as one of those damaged by policy failure in its July publication: Gate now Closing. The Government has also published its GA Strategy which sets out the importance of smaller aerodromes as strategic assets
As well as increasing the amount being raised, FlyPlymouth is widening its ask to engage with the general aviation and professional aviation communities across the United Kingdom. It will participate at a business aviation industry conference at London Oxford Airport on October 18, for example.
Further information on the funding campaign, the present stage in the Plymouth airport process can be found together with FlyPlymouth’s plans for a reopened Plymouth Airport at the company’s website www.flyplymouth.com.