Sheffield City Airport’s future up in the air again

Sheffield City Airport  from the air.
Sheffield City Airport from the air.
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A EURO MP has met with campaigners still battling to save Sheffield City Airport three years after it closed.

Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire, warned councillors against granting an application being considered next week which could speed up plans to rip up the runway and build a business park.

Mr Kirkhope has helped the group submit a petition calling for the European Commission to halt the airport’s destruction - because £3 million of European cash was given to build roads on condition an airport was operating.

The petition is still being considered by the commission.

Sheffield City Airport opened in 1997 but the last scheduled flights ceased in 2002. Iit was finally closed in 2008, with owners Peel saying they could not attract enough commercial flights to make it viable.

Under terms of the contract between the original airport company and Sheffield Development Corporation redevelopment agency, the site owners could have the publicly-owned land for £1 if it did not make any money after 10 years.

An independent review commissioned by Sheffield Council in 2005 found the airport was not financially viable due to its short runway, meaning it could not accommodate most types of passenger planes - paving the way for closure.

Mr Kirkhope said: “I share the group’s concerns about the use of European grant money and it not being well-used.

“The European Commission has not yet come to a conclusion and it would be dangerous to proceed with planning applications concerning development of the runway until the matter is resolved.”

He recognised the airport ‘had difficulties’ but said he believed it could still be a success if reopened - and if other firms were willing to take it on from Peel.

“There are lots of people all over Europe who I think would be interested in buying the airport,” Mr Kirkhope said. “London City Airport was the same type of venture and has become a success - Sheffield could still be.”

However, a Sheffield Council spokesman said: “We’ve always said that as far as we are concerned we have not breached any terms of the agreement or lease.

“Our only role was to inherit the situation from Sheffield Development Corporation, which included the lease that had already been granted, and the terms that allowed the transfer of the airport to the owners if it was unviable had already been set.”