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Fears restrictions could spell end of Bagby Airfield
AN AIRFIELD manager says he is waiting to see if the latest council restrictions on their activities proves to be the final nail in the coffin for the business.
Hambleton District Council this week agreed to provide £34,550 to cover enforcement regulation matters at Bagby Airfield, restricting certain activities at the business near Thirsk.
The money is a one-off expenditure that was not budgeted for. It includes £20,000 for legal and consultant fees at the recent public inquiry into the airfield and £2,000 in legal advice to draft the enforcement notices for the airfield and £10,000 to monitor compliance with the notices.
Bagby Airfield manager Steve Hoyle said he is now waiting to see what these enforcement restrictions will involve, but says if they involve aspects such as removing jet fuelling points and restricting early morning flight times, it may mean the business is no longer viable.
He says restrictions have already cost five jobs at the airfield and another ten to 15 jobs will be lost if it closes.
He says there could be many more jobs lost from the racehorse industry, as he has been approached by race horse trainers who say they will seriously consider moving their businesses to the south of England without access to flights from Bagby.
He said: “One racehorse trainer has told us that if Bagby Airfield closes, it will be one step further to him moving his whole system down south, with the loss of 125 jobs in this area.
“We have a bunch of ten to 15 people who are against this airfield. We’ve done everything we can to help them.
“The only alternatives airfields around here are military ones - the race horse owners can’t use them. They’ve spoken to me and said they will consider moving their operations to Newmarket if this closes.
“Some of the top jockeys and trainers use this airfield. They spend their money here in hotels, B&Bs and pubs and with local taxi firms.
“A lot come and spend their winnings in the local economy."
Stephen Hornsby, from the residents’ group Action for Refusal refuted these claims.
He said: “This threat of closure has been made before and really I don’t think these latest claims ought to be given any more credence than they were given in the past.
“The airfield has a future – it might not be the future they wanted of turning this into some kind of business hub.
“The enforcement of reasonable restrictions on the airfield activity will not lead to relocation of business south, it just won’t happen.
“The council are going to have to spend some money enforcing this and it’s really disappointing that the local ratepayers money is being spent in this way when we would just have liked the airfield to comply with the notices.”