It’s time to level up and let our local airport really take off - Business editor's comment

It was a little surprising, not to mention gracious, of Doncaster Sheffield Airport to welcome £150m expansion plans at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 9:33 am
Updated Friday, 19th February 2021, 9:36 am

Serving the same county, you might have thought of them as rivals.

But DSA bosses correctly acknowledge that air travel is critical to the North’s economic recovery.

Few Sheffielders use the site anyway, although not because it is hard to get to.

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To get there, we have to use the long and winding Snake Pass, followed by horrendous congestion in Glossop and then potentially more trouble on the motorway.

You could take a train direct - but this service is under threat under proposals to improve reliability and punctuality in and around Manchester.

Which all makes the case for expansion at Doncaster, only 30 minutes from Sheffield city centre thanks to new roads.

For a start it would put an end to thousands of lengthy journeys and the fuel they consume.

But there is more to it than convenience, DSA is a huge site with a massive runway and enough space to rival Stansted in the overheated South East.

With the East Coast Mainline providing a two-hour service from London to Doncaster, it is estimated millions of people could benefit.

This, surely, is the way for air travel to expand and meet climate goals. And all it needs is £300m for a rail link into the site.

Before the pandemic and HS2 moved up the agenda, £300m sounded like a lot of money. Today we realise it is peanuts. When the government wants something costing billions it has easy access to ample funds.

DSA supporters say the new track would create 72,000 jobs and bring in £3.2bn of income to South Yorkshire.

Ministers’ decision to deny this project is baffling, especially since ‘levelling up’ is supposedly top of the agenda - and this combines two of the best levelling up levers there are: rail and air.

It is time to give this vital scheme the go-ahead - or promises to help the North will be exposed as worthless.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.