CAMPAIGNERS calling for a council debate into whether Sheffield City Airport could be reopened have presented a 5,000-signature petition at the Town Hall.
The number of supporters means a debate will be triggered at the next full council meeting.
Members of the South Yorkshire Federation of Small Businesses, supported by Sheffield Conservative Party, organised the petition.
They believe the airport, which last had commercial flights in 2002 and closed in 2008, could be viable if reopened, to provide short-haul connections with London and continental airports like Amsterdam.
The petition follows a lengthy campaign by aviation enthusiasts to try to prove insufficient efforts were made to make the airport viable by its old owners, Peel – the company which also operates Robin Hood Airport. Peel, which denies the claims, received the Sheffield Airport land from the council for £1 after the council was unable to make the airport viable.
The company, which has set up a property firm, Sheffield Business Park, to manage the site, now has planning permission to site offices and industrial premises there.
Sheffield Council and Peel point to an independent study in 2005 which concluded that, because the airport runway was too short to attract jet aircraft, it could not be made viable.
The petitioners point to changing circumstances and say that restoring flights would help attract businesses to Sheffield, creating jobs.
They argue that flights currently available from Robin Hood, at Doncaster, serve holiday destinations so are of little use to businesses.
For - Gordan Milward, South Yorks FSB:
“The Federation of Small Businesses is delighted that over 5,000 people have supported our campaign.
“We will be reminding the council that more people supported our campaign than voted for any councillor.
“Sheffield is a city of worldwide renown for its high technology manufacturing.
“But to exploit these strengths to the full the city needs to provide an infrastructure for international travel and communication that matches the expertise of the manufacturers and service providers.
“There are private sector bidders who are interested in the airport and operating it as a commercial facility for aviation.
“We believe that their commitment to the city region deserves an expression of strong support from a council which has remained stubbornly seated on the fence.
“This is not acceptable from a council elected to further the interests of the community.”
Against - Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council:
“The council is not in a position to determine the future of the former Sheffield Airport site.
“It belongs to Sheffield Business Park and the check-in building was converted to offices years ago.
“The council has no grounds whatsoever, or indeed enforceable powers, to attempt to seek to inhibit or delay the redevelopment of the site.
“To return the site to a functioning and commercially viable airport would require a huge investment.
“Any backer with a private sector investment proposal would need to approach the landowners to buy the site, not the council. Our involvement would only be as the planning authority if and when an airport plan was submitted.
“The previous airport lost money. Given the huge cuts the council is facing, we therefore believe it would be entirely inappropriate for the council to commit to underwriting any losses.”
What do you think about the future of Sheffield City Airport? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Artist, aged 26, Hillsborough
“I don’t think we need an airport - it would bring noise and pollution. Sheffield is a nice city.”
Retired, Parson Cross
“I think it would be a good idea for Sheffield to have its own airport once again.”
Retired, Parson Cross
“Having flights from Sheffield City Airport would be more convenient than travelling to fly elsewhere.”
“It would be great if Sheffield could have shuttle flights to places like London and Amsterdam.”