Airport campaigners lifted by MP’s concerns

CAMPAIGNERS trying to save a closed city airport from the bulldozers have claimed they had new support from an MP and the director of an advanced manufacturing research facility.

The South and East Yorkshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses has called for work to convert Sheffield City Airport into a business park to be halted until an inquiry into its future is carried out.

Sheffield Council gave planning permission for the runway to be dug up and replaced with business units earlier this year despite an opposition campaign, but work has yet to begin on the site.

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The FSB, which claims Doncaster’s Robin Hood Airport is “no good for business travellers”, released a letter yesterday from Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield which said he had concerns over what had happened at the Sheffield site.

Mr Blomfield said: “I am not convinced that sufficient efforts were made to run the site as an airport and I worry that this objective was eclipsed by the option of developing a business park in a prime location.

“Robin Hood Airport is not a business airport and I question whether it will ever fulfil that function for Sheffield’s business community.

“Many people from Sheffield who have the need for business flights find travelling to Manchester Airport quicker and more convenient than reaching Robin Hood Airport.

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The MP added: “I think an independent public inquiry would be worthwhile in order to once and for all assess the commercial viability of Sheffield City Airport, and to explore any outstanding concerns.”

Professor Keith Ridgway, the research director of Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre beside the airport site, said Sheffield is suffering without an airport.

He said he “always opposed closure of the airport in Sheffield” and added that as a regular traveller to Scotland he found he could get to London from Aberdeen or Dundee faster than he could from Sheffield.