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Small Airfields in Hampshire

Smaller Airport Planning Explained

1. Windsocks? unless it can be proved that it is temporary, a windsock does need planning permission.

2. Mown grass airstrip? If the airstrip has been mowed and rolled, it needs planning permission.

3. 28 Day Rule? It is lawful to use an airstrip if is for up to 28 days per year - but this is very difficult to monitor.

4. CLU? A Certificate of Lawful Use may be granted if an applicant can prove that the airfi eld has been consistently used every year for 10 years. Once an owner/operator has obtained a CLU the airport effectively becomes a permanent.

As Britain's airports continue to grow many rural areas in the South East are subjected to more noise.

The number of flights has trebled over the past 20 years and as controversial plans to expand Heathrow and Stanstead unfold, attention has turned to smaller regional airports. Many have plans to extend runways and build new terminals. Hampshire has two large regional airports on its doorstep - Bournemouth and Southampton. This is in addition to the large amount of military flying activity from Odiham, Boscombe Down and Middle Wallop.

Both regional passenger airports have their own expansion plans. The Bournemouth Airport Masterplan (May 2007) predicts that passenger aircraft movements will treble from 13,000 in 2005/6 to 39,000 in 2029/30. Southampton now serves over a million passengers a year. However in the great airport debate, little attention has been given to smaller unlicensed airports and rural airstrips. There are many such airstrips scattered throughout Hampshire. Although some are just for the private use of the owner, many are used by clubs and flight training schools for flying light aircraft and microlights and are largely unregulated. Most flying activity tends to take place on sunny weekends just when you are out and about in the garden!

CPRE Hampshire has been tracking the location and extent of rural airfi elds around the county. Many sites such as Lee on Solent started life during World War II. Others started off as small farm strips and have now become busy General Aviation airports. Popham, near Basingstoke is an example of a grass strip that fi rst applied for permission to erect a timber hut in 1986. Now over 100 aircraft are based here with regular 'fly-ins' taking place during the summer. Sometimes what looks like a harmless grass strip can turn into something much bigger. Each expansion can bring with it planning applications for hangars, cafes, parking and windsocks. They can also be used for pilot training - of both light aircraft and microlights. Training involves repeated take offs and landings which can be very noisy for residents. So far we have documented around 20 of these smaller airstrips in the county but there is evidence that there may be more.

We have looked at the location, level of fl ying activity and their planning status and found that many grass airstrips do not have planning permission. Some operate under the 28 Day Rule; others have obtained a Certifi cate of Lawful Use. There is a brief explanation of these planning terms in the box above.

An Airstrip Near You?

Popham airfield

Popham airfield

Perhaps you can help us? If you know or have heard about an airstrip near you we would like to hear from you. Perhaps you could find out about its planning status or monitor activity if you live very near by. This will help us to build a national database of all rural airfields. Already we have volunteers working in other counties in the South East gathering information.

At the moment aviation policy is very much a top down approach which follows national guidelines for expansion of capacity. Local Development Frameworks and Transport Plans do not sufficiently address aviation policy on a local level. Although pilots are required to log every flight, the Civil Aviation Authority is only concerned with safety issues at unlicensed airstrips. There is no central register or body that monitors, controls or regulates flights. If movements were detailed more accurately they could be readily available for local residents and planning officers to see when planning issues arise. Although the new South Downs National Park Authority is likely to object to airport expansion, the planning authority may still have the last word.

CPRE would like to see Local Planning Authorities include local airfield planning in their Local Development Frameworks and Local Transport Plans. A central register that detailed movements/ flying activity would greatly assist them in this task. The information could also be use to lobby the Government to formulate a more joined up approach to aviation policy. Please contact Camilla Swiderska if you think you can help

This article first appeared in Hampshire Views No.2, Spring/Summer 2010 (PDF).

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