The bold masterplan revealed today to transform Doncaster Sheffield Airport into a major international hub with its own railway station and the capacity to handle 25 million passengers per year is a project that must be assessed as a national planning priority by the Government.
Officials at the airport believe their proposals could help create tens of thousands of new jobs, provide a £3.2bn economic boost to the region in the next 30 years and, crucially from a national perspective, alleviate congestion around London by reducing the need for passengers to travel to Heathrow and Gatwick.
The cost of the expansion plans is put at £280m, with the hope funding will come from a mixture of private and public money procured from both regional and national Government. In comparison with the billions being ploughed into HS2 and Crossrail in London, the level of investment being asked of the Government is a relative drop in the ocean.
The former RAF base, which became a commercial airport in 2005 and currently handles just over one million passengers annually, has the advantage of 1,600-acre site in which to expand and its central position means the creation of a new railway link would put nine million people within 90 minutes of it by public transport.
The scheme has support of Transport for the North and local business and tourism leaders - but now needs national backing from the likes of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
These proposals now represent a litmus test for a Government that has made repeated promises about rebalancing the economy away from dependency on London, creating a Northern Powerhouse and investing in Yorkshire’s transport network. There must be no delay in assessing whether this scheme can be delivered - and if so, bringing it fruition as soon as practicable.