Reports that the Transport Secretary has Lobbied to Protect Airfields From House Building have been denied by the Government.
The Sunday Times reports that Grant Shapps is an amateur pilot and set up a team to help airfields overcome challenges.
According to it, the Airfield Advisory Team had objected to plans for home-building at an ex-airfield in Oxfordshire.
However, the Transport Department insisted that it was an independent advisory group.
Officials claimed that AAT did not lobby, but offered advice for supporting civilian airfields.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, accused Mr Shapps “within his department to lobby his government.”
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The Department for Transport funded the work of the group and provided two employees.
It is located in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a department that regulates civil aviation within the UK.
CAA documents from April indicate that the agency’s role is “to sustain” UK’s network airfields. It also provides advice to local planning authorities.
Shapps was a passionate aviation fan and received a pilot license in 1995. He became Transport Secretary in July 2019.
He was a former chair of a cross-party group that promoted the use and recreational enjoyment of planes before he took up his present post.
AAT expressed concerns about the plans to build 3,00 homes at Chalgrove Airfield, Oxfordshire. They claimed that the location could not be used for both development and a testing ground for ejection seat ejections.
Homes England, owner of Chalgrove said that in May, it would change its plans “taking account” these reservations.
AGigafactory facilities for electric vehicle batteries will also be built on Coventry Airport’s site by the AAT.
Sunday Times’ report is published at a moment when politicians are being scrutinized closely.
The government failed to prevent Owen Paterson’s suspension from Conservative MP for 30 days, following his breach of Commons rules about paid lobbying.
Following the Government’s refusal to allow him to be suspended, Paterson, who has denied any wrongdoing in his past, quit Parliament.
Angela Rayner from Labour said that the rules regarding MPs second jobs need to be improved.
According to her, the party will ban members of parliament from “paid consulting”, directorships within companies or being lobbyists.
She said they wouldn’t ban second jobs. However, she noted that MPs in certain areas – like while working as doctors, would still need to keep their professional registrations and provide “good public service.”
A spokesperson for Department for Transport said that Mr Shapps should promote all aspects of his brief “include the general aviation sector”.
They added the sector “contributes £4bn to the economy and supports 40,000 jobs”.
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