Farnborough Airport has formally submitted plans to Rushmoor Borough Council for a substantial expansion of its annual operations, including an increase in the number of permitted flights from 50,000 to 70,000 per year.
The airport's revised proposals reflect the feedback received during the consultation, which took place from September 4 to October 18.
It is still applying for an uplift in flights from 50,000 to 70,000 annually and from 8,900 to 18,900 at weekends. But changes have been made in response to criticism, including the retention of current non-weekday operating hours and a phased approach to growth to address concerns about the airport's future growth rate.
This will see the expansion in flights phased in over a decade and a half, up to 2040, while improvements have also been made to the community funding program.
Notably, the airport aims to enhance its Sound Insulation Grant Scheme, offering what it claims is the most generous eligibility criteria among comparable airport noise insulation programs in the UK.
How Farnborough Airport responded to consultation feedback – in its own words...
- The operational change least supported was the proposal to adjust the Airport’s operating times on non-weekdays. In response, this has been removed from the application, instead retaining the current non-weekday operating hours of 08.00-20.00.
- The operational change with the most support was the proposal to increase the restricted aircraft weight category to accommodate new generation business aviation aircraft, which are often quieter but slightly heavier.
- A common theme was concern around the Airport’s future growth rate. In response and to ensure growth is phased over time, revised annual and non-weekday flight limits have been proposed. These would replace the Airport’s existing 50,000 annual total and 8,900 annual non-weekday flight limits and commit the Airport to a gradual growth trajectory towards the amended annual flight limits of 70,000 and 18,900 by 2040.
- The most commonly raised subject across email responses related to noise. As a result, the revised application includes new measures to mitigate and reduce the potential for increased aircraft noise, including proposing the most generous eligibility criteria of any airport in the UK in relation to grant funding for noise insulation.
- Around 50 per cent of respondents supported increased contributions to the Airport’s community funding programme, with majority support for a new Sustainability Fund to help fund local sustainability projects. The proposals were updated to include additional funding as well as flexibility for an extended geographic reach of the Fund and the potential for a broader remit in terms of local community initiatives.
The application also stresses, as one of the largest employment sites in the local area, Farnborough Airport plays a significant role in supporting the economic prosperity of the region. It says the proposed expansion is viewed as essential to meet the long-term market demand for business aviation connectivity, contributing £200 million to the local economy annually and supporting thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
The revised plans also introduce a new Sustainability Fund, focusing on projects outside the borough of Rushmoor and in neighboring communities affected by the airport's operations.
Additionally, the application emphasises a commitment to emissions reduction and air quality monitoring, with a goal to lead in the adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
The consultation process involved six exhibitions in four local authority areas, engaging more than 1,200 people who provided feedback through various channels.
Simon Geere, chief executive of Farnborough Airport, said: “We have gone to great lengths to understand the opinions and priorities of local residents and stakeholders regarding our proposed changes.
"We are thankful to the local community for engaging in the evolution of our proposals by providing valuable feedback. This collaborative approach has helped us shape improvements to the final application, which has now been submitted to Rushmoor Borough Council.
“We are committed to ongoing engagement with the community, and will continue to work with residents, community representatives and elected officials in and around Farnborough as our application is considered.”
The plans are now available for review on Rushmoor Borough Council's planning portal under reference 23/00794/REVPP.
The council will conduct its own consultation process, and the airport's website, www.FarnboroughAirport2040.com, will provide regular updates during the determination period.