Nonsense on airport

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much nonsense has been said about Sheffield airport. I write as just an interested observer, having had no involvement in original decisions nor any subsequent consideration by the council.

The first charge is that it was ‘a disgrace that Sheffield was the largest city in Europe without an airport and that this was because the (Labour) council wasn’t interested.’

Nearly 30 years ago, I arranged for the deposit in Sheffield Archives of minutes recording the council’s persistent efforts since 1945 to secure an airport in the region.

Every attempt was firmly rebutted by the Civil Aviation Authority (and its predecessors) on safety grounds, because of industrial and utilities infrastructure, topography and, until the late 60s, air quality.

Thatcher’s decimation of coal, steel and engineering industries and the success of local clean air policies opened up possibilities which were explored by both the council and the Chamber of Commerce, before being taken up by Sheffield Development Corporation.

It is said that ‘the airport needs to be in Sheffield, not Doncaster’. Of all the sites for a Sheffield region airport, RAF Finningley easily came top on all criteria, including runway length and commercial and development opportunities. Unfortunately, the MoD insisted there was no prospect of it becoming available for civilian use. We all now know different.

If it had been available then – or if the MoD had said it would be available in the future – there’d have been no Sheffield airport.

Finningley’s advantages were so great that no-one in their right mind would invest in a limited airport at Tinsley Park. It’s a joke to say Robin Hood is too far from Sheffield. As a regular business flyer, I can confirm that nearly all cities have lengthier city-to-airport times than here.

Sheffield alone could not generate enough demand to support the high-fare, short-hop business flights that could use the limited airport.

If Andrew Cook is so convinced by Sheffield Airport’s viability (June 1), I wonder why he decided not to buy it when he had the chance.

Howard A Knight, S4