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The National Picture

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The predicament at Fairoaks is not solely a local issue.  It is also of national significance and is part of a wider issue for General Aviation in the UK.

General Aviation airfields are under threat.  The national housing shortage and the pressure on local councils to deliver their Local Plans by March 2018 place severe pressure on airfields to justify their value, both to their owners and to local authorities, who are eyeing many of them as ideal sites for much-needed housing.  In contrast, nationally, the Government has a vision for the UK as “the best place in the world for GA as a flourishing, wealth generating and job producing sector of the economy” - Department for Transport’s General Aviation Strategy, 2015.

 

aviation sector graphicThe General Aviation sector contributes more than £3 billion per year to the UK economy and supports 38,000 jobs in the UK.  Through the training of new pilots at flight schools at GA airfields, it supports the larger Commercial Aviation Sector, which contributes £60 billion per year to the UK economy and 961,000 jobs.

Airfields require a significant acreage of land and, as land is in high demand, there have been no new GA airfields built since the Second World War.

This means that every time a GA airfield is closed and re-developed, there are fewer airfields at which to land.  This is a particular issue in the case of an emergency - an emergency landing at an airfield greatly increases the survival rate of both the pilot and the plane and is greatly preferable to an emergency landing in a field, or worse in a built-up area.  Therefore, a Minimum Viable Strategic Network of GA airfields is essential from a safety critical standpoint.

Employment at the Airport

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

More than 300 staff are involved with aviation-related business at Fairoaks Airport.

The largest employer is Gama Engineering, with 42 employees handling aircraft maintenance.  Gama's yearly rental payments amount to 51% of the total site rental income.

The General Aviation industry is represented by a mixture of specialised businesses:

  • Engineering and Maintenance
  • Training: Fixed Wing Aircraft
  • Training: Helicopter
  • Training: Executive Jets
  • Training: Aviation regulations, compliance and safety management training and consultancy
  • Medical Flights
  • Aircraft and Helicopter Recovery
  • Air Taxi and Charter
  • Aerial Photography
  • Flying Clubs and Groups
  • Shared ownership of turboprop aircraft
  • Business Aircraft
  • Police, Ambulance and Military Helicopter Operations

Fairoaks Airport is also home to a number of non-aviation businesses:

  • Car Restoration and maintenance
  • Motor Racing
  • Car & Vehicle Upholstering
  • Taxis and Private Hire
  • Bicycle Sales and Repairs
  • Photographic
  • Photo Processing and Printing
  • Bookkeeping & Financial Services
  • Sign Writers
  • Air Conditioning Services
  • Food and Drink Deliveries
  • Coffee Shop
  • IT Systems and Network Infrastructures
  • Recycling and Cleaning Services

The Current Operation

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Our research suggests that:

  • The largest aviation business based at Fairoaks, Gama Maintenance, is at full capacity, limited by available hangars
  • This suggests that not only are the operations at Fairoaks already at a significant size but that they are enjoying a period of excellent growth, despite a complete lack of investment from the airport’s current owners
  • Fairoaks2020

 

The real reason for the perceived lack of viability stems from the current ownership of Fairoaks Airport.

 

Freehold Ownership Map 23mar17The airport site covers an area of 310 acres.  At the moment, 40 acres are owned by TEREF ADP Fairoaks Ltd., which includes hangars, office, and warehouse accommodation totalling approximately 161,391 sq ft.  The remaining 270 acres are owned by Albemarle Fairoaks Airport Ltd, which includes the airstrip.

 

Home Page

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Keep Fairoaks Flying

Fairoaks2020 - formerly known as No Fairoaks New Town - is dedicated to protecting Fairoaks Airport and the Green Belt land on which it sits from the proposed Fairoaks housing estate.

We are passionate about protecting Surrey Heath’s Green Belt for its benefits to the local community and wildlife.

We also recognise the value of General Aviation to the UK economy and to the local community, and are working with industry experts and the General Aviation Infrastructure Network (GAIN) to make sure that this vital national infrastructure asset is protected for future generations.

You can help us!

SIGN UP VOLUNTEER DONATE

WRITE TO YOUR COUNCILLOR

Fairoaks2020 film:  Fairoaks Airport Past, Present and Future

Click here to go to individual interviews

 

Unity Land unveils bid to buy Fairoaks

Unity Land have now gone public on their bid to purchase Fairoaks, with the view to retaining it as an operational GA Airfield. Go to https://www.unitylandllp.com/ for more details of their plans.

The Planning Application

(SHBC18/0642 ; RU18/1615 ; and WokingPLAN/2018/1172)

See our Facebook page for details of how to respond: www.facebook.com/NoFairoaksNewTown/

Here's a summary of major objections to the Fairoaks Housing Estate application:

  • It conflicts with the relevant adopted and emerging development plans, e.g. the draft SHBC draft Local Development Plan that emerged during the summer.
  • It conflicts with National Planning Policy, which requires that large development in the Green Belt should only be approved in "very special circumstances".  It is a matter of record that housing need is not accepted as a VSC.
  • The benefits claimed by the applicant are generally not benefits at all, they are mitigation for the harm the development would cause.
  • The harm the applicant claims the development would cause is understated.  Together with the previous point, this means the developers' case is grossly overstated.
  • The estate would generate an enormous amount more traffic on roads that are already unacceptably congested.  The proposed new road through the site would in no way compensate for this.
  • Most of the site is open greenfield:  to put 1,000 homes on it would obviously affect the site’s openness and would harm the landscape and biodiversity.
  • The loss of the airport would harm the local economy.  The alternative airports that the applicant claims could be used instead of Fairoaks are not suitable.

We'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Please use the form below to ask us questions, to volunteer to help our campaign, to let us know your wildlife sightings and to send us any of your photos we can use of Fairoaks Airport.

The maximum file size is 5mb (jpg, jpeg, png, pdf, doc)

Contact & Corporate Details

Registered Office:
1-3 Poole Road
Woking, Surrey
GU21 6WW

Company No: 10675480

Fairoaks2020

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

We have a vision for the future of Fairoaks Airport, recognising its place in the national network of General Aviation Airfields, called Fairoaks2020.

The airport’s owners are adamant that the airport is not viable and the hopeful developers have said that “the existing aviation operations at Fairoaks Airport are loss-making, in decline and unsustainable with the inability to increase revenue”.

aviation business communityHowever, our review of the current operations suggests that the site generates an income in excess of £1.7 million with a net profit on an EBITDA basis in excess of £0.5 million, with even the airfield operations being profitable!

The Fairoaks2020 vision would see better utilisation of the business park space at the airport and create a community hub with employment, education, transport and leisure for the local community and our international aviator visitors.

Local Services

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Healthcare

Much like the transport network, the local services which serve Fairoaks and the surrounding area are already struggling to cope with the current demand and there is little opportunity or budget to make the necessary improvements to accommodate the size of the proposed development at Fairoaks, let alone the other housing projects which are at various stages of the planning process including Deepcut and Longcross.

The A&E department of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust has a design capacity of 60,000 patients per annum.  For the last seven years for which statistics are available attendances have exceeded 80,000 per annum, resulting in the hospital regularly failing the 4-hour A&E target set by Central Government.  Moreover, the hospital only has 400 beds (including acute care).

This hospital will also be used by the new residents at the Longcross Garden Village development which has already received planning permission.

In July 2017 Surrey Heath’s local MP, The Rt Hon Michael Gove, said that “the approved development at Longcross makes the development of Fairoaks Airport even more difficult to justify” due to the impact on Surrey Heath’s infrastructure and environment.

Moreover, the local GP surgeries are under similar levels of over-subscription already, with waiting times already increasing.

Education

The developer's plans for Fairoaks Airport include a primary school but this school’s capacity is less clear.  This is particularly important given that schools in our area are already over-subscribed by an average of 2.5 applications for each place.

A representative of the developers recently stated that they are under no obligation to build additional schools - a remark that makes the inclusion of a school in their plans questionable.  Add into the mix Government under-funding, a desperate shortage of quality teaching staff, and discussions about a 4-day school week, and we have an educational crisis in the making in our local community.


healthcare

People

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

AIR QUALITY

The impact of an operational Fairoaks Airport on air quality is minimal, owing to the speed with which aircraft leave the area, the height at which they fly and because the majority of light aircraft engines do not burn diesel.

The impact of the predicted 4,000 additional road vehicles associated with the proposed development on air quality, particularly Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), would be highly detrimental.  It is likely, given the already high volumes of traffic in the area that the additional vehicles would raise the level of pollution above the safe annual average as outlined by European directives.

“Traffic congestion such as is experienced on busy high streets such as in Chobham is equivalent to passive smoking 10 cigarettes a day”, according to a Government source.

The proposed development’s impact on the air pollution levels make it unsupportable for any local authority that cares about the quality of life of its residents.

NOISE POLLUTION

Not only will the higher concentration of vehicles affect air pollution in the area, it would also increase the noise pollution levels for local residents.

Shutting the airstrip at Fairoaks would mean the elimination of Fairoaks’ 4-mile Aerodrome Traffic Zone, resulting in aircraft being routed over Chobham 200 ft lower (at 1,700 ft) to intercept the Instrument Landing System on the runway at Farnborough.  This increase in noise would be compounded further by the increase in air traffic over Chobham towards Farnborough, if Fairoaks Airport was to close.

G MARTY I2017 800x330It is important to note that very few jet-powered aircraft operate from Fairoaks Airport.  Jet-powered aircraft which currently fly low over Surrey Heath operate from Farnborough or Blackbushe Airport.

TRANSPORT

The roads around Fairoaks Airport are already subject to very high volumes of traffic and the proximity to junctions with the M3 and M25 mean there is a knock-on effect from accidents and traffic-jams on those motorways.

Any further increase in traffic levels will have an adverse effect on the economy due to the loss of productivity and the increased journey time for suppliers and staff.

Moreover, there is little that can be done to ease the situation in terms of public transport.  The two nearest railway stations - West Byfleet and Woking - are more than 3 miles away and the area is served by unreliable and infrequent bus services, which are delayed by the same traffic.  Expansion of the current bus routes is not feasible given the narrow and congested road network.  Adding to the congestion will not improve the position.

traffic congestion

Wildlife & Habitats

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Green Belt land on which Fairoaks Airport sits is a unique and protected Heathland. It provides habitat for over 19 ‘Red List’ bird species and four priority species of bird.

Red list birds include: large flocks of Northern Lapwing, flocks of Fieldfare, Sky Lark, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Barn Owl, Stone Curlew and many more.

Habitats include woodland pasture, wet woodland, many veteran trees, hedgerows, hazel copse, scrub and the meandering River Bourne.

All of this is now under serious threat from the proposed housing and associated Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG) development, which would bring noise and destruction on a monumental scale.

Deer at Fairoaks

Heron

What is a SANG?

A SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) is a piece of land which has been made into a visitor attraction. Why ‘alternative’? The purpose of a SANG here, in the boroughs of Runnymede and Surrey Heath, is to draw people away from Thames Basin Heathland. SANGs give people an alternative place to go. SANGs require a great deal of landscaping, path creation, signage, visitor centre construction, road construction and parking. This is all done to provide an area for high visitor numbers (high footfall), potentially in the thousands. Sound good? It can be – if it’s in the right place. At Fairoaks, however, it would be a catastrophe.

Mother and baby fox1

Fairoaks Airport and its associated Green Belt land is an area of outstanding conservation value. It hosts many nationally rare species and sensitive priority habitats. It is without doubt best to leave this exceptional landscape as it is. This will ensure that the plants and animals that are already thriving here continue to do so without disturbance. SANG is a true misnomer because it really is not ‘natural’ – it is man-made and its construction would devastate this fragile natural landscape.

Vulnerable Landscape

Unfortunately, long-term wildlife surveys are lacking for this area and this leaves it vulnerable and open to dismissal, tampering and destruction. The area is home to Badger, Deer, Fox and possibly Dormice in the hazel coppice. There are definitely Bat species in the aircraft hangars. All would be lost through the noise and upheaval of construction, landscaping and the activity caused by the SANG itself. This would be devastating to our local and national biodiversity and to our precious Surrey wildlife. This beautiful area of Green Belt deserves our protection.

If we do not act quickly to protect Fairoaks Airport and its surroundings, it will be too late to prevent these precious habitats from being degraded and destroyed, and too late to save the rare wildlife for which they provide sanctuary.

Traditional Farming

The woodland pasture habitat here is very important as a priority habitat. It is grazed by a small number of dairy cattle that maintain the short grassland, but it is not constantly grazed or over-grazed. This provides the perfect habitat for declining farmland bird species, such as the Lapwing. The cattle would be not part of the so-called SANG and these farmland species, which are already under threat nationally, would lose out yet again - as will our local farmer.

Threat to Wildlife

The proposed SANG looks pretty on paper. It has some pretty phrases – ‘species rich meadow’, for example. It has even been stated by the developers that the SANG will ‘improve and enhance’ this area. However, this is neither true nor possible. The SANG would not be natural and would not sustain the wildlife that is there now. It would do the opposite. The arrival of cars, where there are none now, visitor centre construction, the large number of visitors themselves (potentially in the thousands) and the noise and upheaval of construction would all contribute to the loss and displacement of these rare and beautiful species – forever. Claims by the developers of strategies to mitigate these losses are disingenuous and simply not realistic.

This precious, hidden and peaceful landscape is under serious threat. Fairoaks Airport protects this landscape and these rare animals.

We’d be delighted to hear from you with your wildlife sightings at Fairoaks Airport.  Are you particularly fond of any special birds, animals, trees or other plants that call Fairoaks Airport home?

 

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