Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Grant for Newquay Airport announced

Yesterday the South West of England Regional Development Agency announced it was making a grant of £8million in support of Cornwall's Newquay Airport. One of the problems the airport is facing is the removal of the military presence there in the form of RAF St Mawgan. I think I am right in saying that the military provide such things as air traffic control and emergency fire cover which the civil airport will now have to provide. So no doubt this dollop of money is very welcome.

My normal reaction to airport expansion, particularly in this country, is a negative one. I'm strongly against another runway being built at Stansted for instance; that is where many of Ryanair's flights depart from of course and I really don't see a case for any further expansion there. With the worries about climate change we should not be encouraging the ever expanding numbers of cheap holiday flights. Similarly with the technology of tele-conferencing is it really necessary for so many business men to need more facilities at Heathrow?

But here in Cornwall the situation is rather different. Newquay, if it's to remain open, needs more passengers to pass through and there's also scope for freight traffic to be built up. These are just economic facts. It is no good if the airport just stays an albatross around the neck of Cornwall County Council. With increasing numbers of short breaks being taken in Cornwall one can see a lot of potential benefit from a degree of development. That is not to say that there should ever be another runway, which I would totally oppose, but improvement of facilities would help to put it on the map. I understand that the grant from SWRDA is only part of what promises to be a larger funding package. So with the ever developing Eden Project mid Cornwall should get a boost to counter in part the losses in china clay country.

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