LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Council acts like a Conservative money collector and now the airport could go

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Council acts like a Conservative money collector and now the airport could go

By Admin | 29/07/2022

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Council acts like a Conservative money collector and now the airport could go

WHAT’S happened to Rotherham? I’ve only been a resident for just over 20 years, but I’ve had family here for most of my life and visited almost weekly as an adolescent and teenager, and in those days it was a really great town.

But look at the place now; we have a council that acts more like a Conservative money collector than the people’s organisation it purports to be, we have a once winning public transport system about to descend into total chaos, we have an invisible police force that for 20 years has been unable to bring to justice the enablers of our nationwide CSE scandal, and has now admitted its inability to solve a single burglary, and now we are apparently about to lose the local air terminal that Rotherham, Sheffield and Doncaster set up at great publicity and expense less than 30 years ago.

We’ve had an airfield at Finningley for over 100 years. First opened in 1915 as the base for a squadron of BE2cs charged with the defence of the industrial North East against German Zeppelin raids, between the wars it served as a bombing and navigational training station.

In 1940 it became an important base for the minelaying of German ports against the expected German invasion. Later in the Second World War it served under bomber command as a Wellington bomber station.

Since the war it has served in a variety of functions, as navigational school, conversion in 1955 to full nuclear status and base for all three of our “V” bombers, base for the USAF Transport Command who in the late 50s carried out the runway upgrading for their super heavy transports that makes the airfield unique today.

It was later home to the Yorkshire Universities Air Corps, to the RAF’s Search and Rescue helicopters, and of course anyone in Yorkshire and nearby counties can remember the famous Battle of Britain air displays of the ‘80s and ‘90s until its abandonment by the RAF in1994.

Taken over by Doncaster for a new regional airport, it opened with barely one Thomson airline flight per day until Peel Holdings, the developer of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport, came in, and with the building of the £85 million terminal complex made it the 1.3 billion passenger multi-airline airport it became and continued as until 2020.

On November 11 2015 it demonstrated its most unique feature, when Russia, researching a refueling stop for its giant Antonov A225 transport en route for the USA, found that the only runway in Britain and the Eastern seaboard capable of taking the giant air freighter was the Robin Hood Airport main runway.

Now the future of the airport, considered one of the greenest airports in Britain, and three times voted by Which magazine to be the most popular airport in the UK, is under threat.

The owners of the site, Peel Holdings, state that it has never achieved its potential or operated at a profit, which sits poorly with their stated expected maximum of 300,000 passengers per year at the original planning enquiry.

A further mystery is the current reluctance of airlines to use the site, though one unofficial statement of exorbitant landing charges by the owners may be a consideration.

Peel Group say they remain “committed to delivering growth, job opportunities and prosperity” to the site, which makes me wonder how much of their decision is coloured by the value of the airfield as potential development land covered by giant warehouses and commercial buildings. Only time will tell.

To anyone wishing to sign the protest against the airport’s closure, you can do so at... https://tinyurl.com/yxu9c97a

Charles David Foulstone,      
Rotherham Green Party

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