Thursday, December 15, 2011

United Kingdom: Dunsfold Park seeks Olympics flights increase

DUNSFOLD Park wants a temporary increase in the number of flights allowed at the aerodrome near Cranleigh next summer in order to cater for Olympic Games air traffic.  But the bid is already attracting opposition from people who believe it will open the door to permanent unrestricted aviation use, which the site's owners are fighting separately to achieve.  Dunsfold's flight movements are currently capped at 5,000 per year and restrictions are in force limiting those to weekdays with time and aircraft size limits as well.  Earlier this year, Waverley Borough Council rejected Dunsfold Park's bid to obtain a certificate of lawfulness of existing use (CLEUD) to lift all restrictions concerning the number of aircraft movements, flight times and type of aircraft. An appeal has been lodged and an inquiry will be held.

If allowed, then Cranleigh, Godalming, Guildford and Haslemere would all be directly under the flight path.  Now though, and "without prejudice" to its position on the CLEUD, Dunsfold Park is seeking a "modest" increase of an additional 1,560 aircraft movements from July 21 to August 15 and to temporarily remove other restrictions, as well as allowing flights on Saturday afternoons and four Sundays during the period of the Games.

The application follows the inclusion of the Dunsfold aerodrome in a government announcement on additional airports in the south east of England which will be co-ordinated to assist with the expected period of peak demand for air services for the London 2012 Olympics.  With one of the best runways in the region outside of the main commercial airports, Dunsfold can accommodate both private and business jet aviation.  The airfield's owners said it was ideally suited for many of the pre-Games training facilities which Surrey is providing, as well as offering easy access to London and the main Olympic venues.

A Dunsfold Park spokesman said: “LOCOG has acknowledged the importance of local businesses in the delivery of a successful Olympic Games and we are delighted that Dunsfold aerodrome has been identified to support this major event.  "We are now looking for the support of Waverley Borough Council and the local community in helping us provide a full aviation service for the Olympic Games.  "We hope our involvement will also provide other opportunities for businesses in the area to take part in this global sporting event.”  Dunsfold Park hoped to obtain permission for the flights increase without the need for a formal planning application, which will involve substantial delay, but Waverley's planners insisted it was necessary.

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