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Future of North Coates Airfield ‘under threat’ due to wind farm compounds plan

One of the country’s oldest airfields could be forced to close if plans to build three works compounds for an offshore wind farm nearby go ahead.

More than 400 people have signed a petition set up by North Coates Flying Club to ask renewables firm SMart Wind to change its plans.

The company has proposed locating three works compounds close to the runway at North Coates to enable it to lay cables for the Hornsea offshore wind farm.

But the compounds – which would house industrial machinery and excavated earth – would make landing or taking off from North Coates impossible.

Club secretary Brian Stafford said: “This is an extremely worrying time for us.

“We’ve been working with SMart Wind for three years now because we knew they were laying the cables next to the runway and we had no problem with that.

“But these compounds are a different matter. We couldn’t operate with them near the end of the runway.

“We’re determined to fight this and make sure they’re located somewhere else where they won’t jeopardise the future of one of the country’s oldest airfields.”

There are currently 75 members at North Coates and between 500 and 600 aircraft from across the country land at the site each year.

Chairman Steve Charters added: “Anything being built in the vicinity of a runway is a problem because if there is an engine failure on take off or landing, then the aircraft has nowhere to go.

“There are already houses to one side of the runway and these compounds would be to the other side.

“It would most definitely bring about the demise of the airfield.”

A spokesperson for SMart Wind said the company is in the process of consulting with the community on the Hornsea Project Two offshore wind farm.

He added: “We have liaised with North Coates Airfield through consultation meetings and direct correspondence to understand their operational requirements.

“On assessing this feedback, SMart Wind will not be progressing with the temporary compound at the end of the runway and we will continue to discuss the location, timing and nature of the other temporary compounds to ensure that navigation safety will not be compromised at the airfield.

“Through working together with North Coates Airfield, it has been possible to allow the consultation process to influence the project’s design to minimise the environmental impacts and to the delivery of the project.”

As reported, the first aircraft landed at North Coates back in 1914 and the airfield was established in 1916. It became a staging post for the Royal Naval Air Service before being used as a practice camp for RAF bomber squadron and then to host the RAF’s strike wing during the Second World War.

Post war, the airfield was used for storage until 1954, when it became a helicopter air sea rescue base.

In 1958, it became the trials base for Bloodhound missiles and it was closed as an active RAF airfield in 1992.

North Coates Flying Club took over the site in 1994 and extended the grass runway from 660 to 750 metres.

To sign the petition to stop the compounds being located in North Coates, visit www.petitions24.com /north_coates_flying_club