John Healey has called on the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, to help save Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) due to the crucial emergency services and national security functions based at the airport.
It’s after John and other South Yorkshire MPs wrote on Friday (30 September) to the Transport Secretary to urge her to use Ministerial powers under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to prevent the imminent closure of the airport and to ensure it retains its Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) licence.
The airport’s current owners, Peel Holdings, announced plans to close DSA and wind down the provision of aviation services by the end of October.
Peel rejected an offer put forward by South Yorkshire Mayor, Oliver Coppard, and Doncaster Mayor, Ros Jones, to keep DSA running which would have allowed more time for a new operator to be found.
In the letter the Wentworth and Dearne MP says: “This is a decision with a huge impact on the whole of the South Yorkshire region and at least 2,700 jobs at stake. Importantly, it is also a decision with consequences for our national defence, security and emergency services. Government has a direct stake in the airport’s future.
“At a time when threats to the UK are increasing, we should not accept the short notice closure of this airport when it is used as a base for enabling our Armed Forces to fulfil their duties to defend Britain and for enabling our emergency services to reinforce our national security.
“There is long-term investment and commitment to these vital emergency and security activities at DSA. If the current owners, Peel Holdings, have lost their ambition to succeed we in South Yorkshire have not.”
The airport provides crucial training for the country’s Armed Forces, including live training for the British Army’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and rear seat Sensor Operators for the RAF’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Force.
DSA is home to the National Police Air Service which provides overland search and rescue operations, assistance with criminal pursuits, overwatch for large gatherings such as protests, sports matches and the G8 summit.
The Maritime and Coastguard Service also has aircraft on call at the airport 24/7, 365 days a year for the UK Border Force, Joint Maritime Security Centre and other Government departments including patrols in the English Channel.
You can read the letter in full below: