Labour snub aerospace and Green Belt

The Conservatives

Labour councillors have failed to support plans for a new aerospace hub and protection of the Green Belt, whilst the LibDems are split – according to Conservative councillors in South Gloucestershire.

At a meeting on Wednesday 14th December, councillors agreed to submit to a planning inspector a revised future development blueprint – its Core Strategy – that now includes the re-development of Filton Airfield and safeguarding of 50 ha of aerospace land to allow local firms to expand and new ones to locate here.

The Core Strategy still includes the protection of the Green Belt stretching from Pilning all the way through to Frampton Cotterell and down the east of Kingswood – areas that had been under severe threat from the previous government’s Regional Spatial Strategy.

And the airfield’s redevelopment would strengthen that protection even more.

But in the main vote only Conservative councillors unanimously backed these plans. Labour abstained and the LibDem group was split down the middle with some voting for and against.

Cllr Robert Griffin (Con, Pilning & Severn Beach) said:

“I am pleased that the Core Strategy has been approved including the defence of the Pilning Green Belt and promotion of a new M49 junction, but I am disappointed that the other parties did not join the Conservatives in unanimously supporting these aims.”

“You just need to look at GKN’s decision to build their factory near Severn Beach to see that a runway is not a pre-requisite for a successful aerospace company.”

“But Labour’s overnight aerospace experts cannot seem to grasp that.”

“GKN ship all their manufactured components out by lorry.”

Cllr Steve Reade (Con, Boyd Valley), who was a leading member of the Siston and Warmley Save Our Green Spaces Group prior to being elected onto the council in May, said:

“It’s a shame to say the least that the Labour Group and some LibDem councillors were unable see the bigger picture – namely that failing to back the Core Strategy was giving the nod to developers to rip up whatever countryside they wanted to, including the Shortwood and Wick Green Belt.”

Cllr Ian Adams (Con, Siston) said:

“Labour almost succeeded in giving developers the Christmas present of a lifetime – a free reign to build houses where ever they like.”

“I’m glad, however, that Siston and Warmley’s precious Green Belt is now better protected than it was before the council meeting.”

“But until the independent inspector has signed off the council’s blueprint, we need to keep our guard up against developers lining up their unsustainable Green Belt planning applications, including in Warmley.”

Cllr Erica Williams (Con, Bitton) added:

“What we saw at this council meeting was a surprising Labour U-turn when compared to last year’s Core Strategy vote – this time around they refused to put their hands up in support of Conservative efforts to protect the local Green Belt, particularly east of the ring road.”

“What a difference a year seems to make when it comes to Labour’s commitment to the Kingswood Green Belt.”

“And sadly yet again we saw some LibDem councillors vote against protecting Green Belt areas like Bitton.”

Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council

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  1. The core strategy does actually contain some plans to build on the green belt, so the Tories are yet again lying through their teeth and out of the back of their hollow heads.

  2. The Labour group were trying to save the aerospace jobs at Filton, GKN moved the new factory because Airbus would not pay them enough to cover the cost of a new build at Filton, so they had to move into a existing building, they took the opportunity to then cut the T&C’s of the new work force.
    The Tories seem to forget they have included in the core strategy the ONLY green belt land in Patchway, seems strange that the increase in houses and greenbelt are ALL in Labour controlled Patchway.

    But it was the best decision for Yate and the other areas controlled by th ConDems

  3. To answer Cllr. Griffin, it is my belief that GKN intended to transport the A350 spars made at Easter Compton by road to Filton and then by AEROPLANE to Broughton, now because of the double dealing go some South Glos officers and the short sighted view of the ConDem councillors including Cll Griffin they will have to transport them all the wat to Broughton by Road, they at least do have a way to deliver their parts, it is my understanding that Airbus are now finding the proposed way to deliver the A400M wings to Spain unfeasable, how long before Airbus take the easy way out and move A400M wing assembly to Broughton.?

  4. This reads like a press release.

    It’s also full of statements made by people who clearly don’t understand the range of aerospace manufacturing that happens in Bristol.

    *Some* aerospace manufacturing doesn’t indeed need an airfield because the exported items are small. *Some* aerospace manufacturing does need an airfield because the parts are large and need efficient and timely transfer to final assembly. Filton specialises in the latter (lucrative) manufacturing.

    This is not rocket science (though we’d have nowhere to launch rockets from anyway).

    Also, it makes it sound like the Labour councillors were abstaining from the vote in order to have green belt in South Glos built upon, but the reality was that they would have voted it through had officers not removed the protection policy for the airfield. Simple as that.
    Had that been the case, BAE Systems would have simply sold the airfield on as a going concern.

    The irony is, of course, that the new Core Strategy *did* include development on the sacred greenbelt that councillors are saying Labour were jeopardising. Well, you can’t have it both ways; either you want to protect greenbelt or you don’t.

    And after making a big song and dance last time around about SGC refusing to accept housing targets, all they had to do was turn around to the planning inspector and say “No. We are keeping protection of *both* the important economic hub that is the airfield *and* our greenbelt, waving their two fingers at housing targets!

    But they didn’t. Why? Could it possibly anything to do with the fact that the Government trying to impose them this time are Conservative, a party who just happen to have had £4m donated to them by the HBF in the last couple of years??

    Cynical? Moi?

  5. I was at this meeting and what I saw was the Labour-led (albeit all-party) Save FIlton Airfield group fighting tooth and nail to preserve the world-class aerospace centre at Filton airfield. What sort of aerospace centre will it be if there is no longer any direct air access? How many lorries will it take to move the same amount of components as just one Beluga?

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