Sir Roger Bangs the Drum for Manston

The campaign to save Manston Airport rolled into the House of Commons this week following the launch of an all-party group for general aviation.

Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale renewed his vow to fight to see Manston re-opened and aircraft once again landing and taking off at the historic airfield, describing it as an “act of corporate vandalism” on the same week that Thanet District Council opens its consultation into amendments to its local plan, where it proposes the site will be turned over for mixed-use, rather than just aviation.

A report by consultants Avia Solutions last year concluded that airport operations at Manston were “very unlikely to be financially viable”.

Sir Roger was joined at the launch by television personality Carol Vorderman, who owns and flies her own light aircraft and has previously done so from Manston.

At the meeting, the former Countdown star stressed the importance of the contribution made by the Air Cadets, for whom she is an ambassador, to the training of tomorrow’s young pilots and engineers and of the country’s airfields to the future of jobs and prosperity both now and post-Brexit.

Sir Roger himself paid tribute to the late Ted Girdler, the former Red Arrows pilot and founder of TG Aviation, and for his family’s work in running a flying club and promoting general aviation.

He also called upon the group to press for legislation to protect airfields from changes in planning use, saying that “once these national assets are gone they are lost forever”.

The group has been formed under the chairmanship of the MP Byron Davies to promote the interests of general aviation and to protect further airfields from closure and re-development as “brownfield sites”. Mr Davies said: “General aviation is worth over £3 billion to the UK annually, provides unrivalled training to our pilots and supports a huge industry of enthusiastic aviators.

“Aviation has a long and proud tradition in the UK and supports thousands of jobs in constituencies across the country yet it faces a crisis that must be averted.

“Together with [former party chairman, aviation minister and private pilot] Grant Shapps, we seek to change the current situation by supporting the industry as strongly as possible and to seek to influence government policy.”

From Kent News (http://www.kentnews.co.uk/news/sir_roger_gale_continues_to_bang_drum_for_manston_as_former_countdown_star_carol_vorderman_joins_kent_mp_at_launch_of_parliamentary_group_for_general_aviation_1_4853492)