Friday, February 17, 2006

Green fields, brown fields and airfields

The UK government, lead by deputy prime minister Prescott, wants to turn Britain into an urban wasteland by building more and more houses to meet the demand from new demographics (family break-up, single person households) and continuing immigration (mainly from Eastern Europe) to complement the workforce since the UK population is ageing and pension funds are already becoming depleted.

One obstacle has been the opposition by environmental campaigners who do not wish to see the countryside destroyed. Hence, the government encourages building on brown sites rather than freshly developing green sites. Developers do not like such restrictions and it seems that the government has now found a way of helping them by simply declaring green sites as brown sites.

The government’s most recent planning policy statement (PPS3) states that previously developed brown sites should be considered for housing developments. When defining brown sites certain facilities were excluded, namely hospital sites and airfield. In a revised draft of the planning policy statement the airfield example has been removed. As this change is tugged away in an annex it would hardly be noticed, but thanks to someone in the aviation world spotting it they are now up in arms.

Airfields are locations with previous development, namely a runway, a tower and a few hangars, but otherwise surrounded by ample green land. As build-up areas are not good for safety in the immediate vicinity of an airfield and as residents would probably start complaining of noise, airfields were hitherto unavailable for developers. With this sneaky change in the policy statement they are becoming a target and many small airfields used for flight training and recreational flying could be lost to make room for urbanisation.

For more read http://www.loop.aero/

People who do not wish to see airfields disappear from the UK countryside should urgently write to their MP, as the consultation period is running out, and copy the letter to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Planning Policies Division (2), Zone 4/J5, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU, email: pps3consultation@odpm.gsi.gov.uk

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