PLANS to redevelop part of Oxford Airport have been criticised by locals.

The airport in Kidlington wants to construct a new, ‘fit-for-purpose’ building for its tenant Airbus to move into in the north-east corner of the site.

Airbus supports the UK’s police, air ambulance and military training helicopters. The new building proposed would have enough space to house 31 helicopters.

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But Green Cherwell District Councillor for Kidlington East Ian Middleton is concerned about how the expansion of the airport will impact the environment.

He said: “We’ve recently seen an increase in the number of large jets that are using the facility and they often thunder over local beauty spots like Spring Hill.

“Helicopters are also increasing in frequency and, for those, there are fewer restrictions on height and noise. As a Yarnton resident myself I’ve noticed a definite increase in flights over and around my house. 

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“The news that there may be far more of these aircraft sited at the airport is very worrying.”

Oxford Airport submitted a ‘screening’ application to Cherwell see if it would need to do an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for its proposals.

The district council has now said that an EIA will be needed, so an application for planning permission will be required.

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Oxford Airport says is it anticipated that the development would not give rise to any additional air traffic and that 95 per cent of Airbus users are visitors who position in for maintenance work, not aircraft based at the site.

But Mr Middleton says any expansion of air travel should not be happening, given the climate emergency.

He added: “As a Green I’m also very concerned about unnecessary air travel like this which will reduce air quality and directly impact the global and local environment. As a council which has passed a climate emergency motion we should definitely not be encouraging any expansion of air travel.”

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Airbus currently occupies three of the old World War Two hangars on the site.

Resident Tim Thompson said the airport should consider demolishing or renovating the old hangars instead of constructing a new one and that building the new space could lead to more development in the future.

He said: “They haven’t looked at alternatives. The first alternative would be, ‘Why don’t we knock down what we have and improve what we’ve got?’.

“They’re spreading the industrialisation of the airport by putting it in another area, they’re building on a green field site, they’re putting in 400 car spaces. We have to assume that what they’re deliberately trying to do is industrialise an area of the airport for some other reason. It’s not because they want to maintain the same number of helicopters.

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“The minute you industrialise a green field site, it allows you far greater powers to industrialise more of that area.”

Residents are also disappointed with the lack of communication and consultation between the airport and local villages and parish councils.

Julian Keates said: “The owners of the airport are expanding, have suspended their consultation forum for rather a long time, and are avoiding using virtual forums for some reason. Despite this lack of any form of consultation, they are aggressively expanding.”

Mr Middleton, who is the airport liaison officer for Kidlington and Yarnton parish councils, said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ that, for most of the past two years since he was elected, there had been no meetings between the airport management and the parish councils, despite numerous requests for them to be convened.  

He said: “We are now being promised that this matter will be addressed in the near future, but to be frank, I’ve heard that many times before and will believe it when I see it.”

This paper asked Oxford Airport whether any meetings had taken place and if not, what the reason was, but did not receive a response.