Bagby Airfield row rumbles on

THE owner of a North Yorkshire airstrip at the centre of a long-running planning battle has launched an appeal against council enforcement action – which will trigger a third public inquiry into the controversial site.

Hambleton District Council ordered Martin Scott, who owns Bagby Airfield, near Thirsk, to restrict the number of aircraft using the site and remove a fuel tank for helicopters in December, saying he must “reinstate the land to its former condition” after it began being used as a runway.

But Mr Scott has this week lodged an appeal against the two enforcement notices served by the authority, with the Government having confirmed a public inquiry into the issue will now be held. It will be the third time a planning inspector has been called in to settle the dispute between the airfield’s owners and the council.

Residents in Bagby and Thirkleby launched a campaign to cut noise from the airfield – which is used by leading jockeys and racehorse trainers – leading to the council carrying out a survey of its use, aimed at regulating activities there. The authority said Mr Scott’s appeal has been made on five grounds, including that the operation of the airfield has not breached planning controls and, at the time the enforcement notices were issued, it was “too late” to take any action against the matters it related to.

The appeal notice also said the measures required to comply with the notice are “excessive” and “lesser steps would overcome the objections”, adding that Mr Scott believes he has not been given sufficient time to comply. A date for the public inquiry, which will be held at the Civic Centre in Northallerton, has not yet been fixed.

Last March, the initial public inquiry upheld the council’s rejection of plans for a three-bedroom clubhouse, with extended aircraft hangars and a helicopter landing pad, at the airfield. A second hearing was held in May, with the inspector upholding eight enforcement actions put in place by the council.

However, the inspector also allowed one of Mr Scott’s appeals, which related to a move preventing helicopters from using the grass airstrip. Airfield manager Steve Hoyle has previously claimed the latest enforcement action will lead to job losses at the airfield and have a “knock-on effect” for local businesses. The council has said it is trying to establish “normality” in the area and is not looking to close down the airfield.

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