Lincolnshire County Council: Supporting Doncaster airport businesses

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Lincolnshire County Council is supporting businesses around Doncaster Airport following its closure, while trying to re-route supply lines into the county.

The closure of Doncaster Airport was announced in September, after operators Peel Group claimed it was “not viable due to its lack of adequate forward revenues and high operating costs.”

The last flight touched down on November 4. However, efforts are still being made to save the airport with the results of a judicial review last week still to be announced.

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Councillors were told efforts were being made by officers during an update on the work of the authority’s Team Lincolnshire project, which aims to encourage more investment into the region.

Councillor Hilton Spratt was positive about the potential for future investmentCouncillor Hilton Spratt was positive about the potential for future investment
Councillor Hilton Spratt was positive about the potential for future investment

Members also debated the ethics of whether the authority should be encouraging defence and security contracts if it meant arms or services were sold to “difficult foreign powers”.

During the meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Matthew Boles who oversees parts of West Lindsey, including Gainsborough, said: “It’s been well represented to me from businesses in my area the impact the closure has had on them in terms of trade investment and supply chains.”

He questioned whether the closure would impact the work of Team Lincolnshire and whether LCC was working to push for a potential takeover of the airport, so that it could reopen.

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Samantha Harrison, LCC’s Head of Economic Development, said Team Lincolnshire would be working with all the local businesses to examine supply routes and get them moving forward.

“We will be lobbying on their behalf and trying to get everything re-routed,” she said.

“We are working closely with West Lindsey District Council as part of a regional programme to see if there is viability for the airport to reopen, and that is ongoing.”

During the meeting, councillors were told that since Team Lincolnshire was set up, it had increased from 109 members to 147. It had also overseen the creation of 331 new jobs, and had direct involvement in influencing or developing 96 investment sites across the county, including 13 within the new South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone.

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Looking ahead, it was focusing on things like agri-food, the East Midlands Airport and Humber Freeport and support of the defence sector.

However, Councillor Ashley Baxter feared the defence sector aims could be used “as a euphemism for arms exports” and asked if there was any examination of the “ethics of sales” within the county.

He was told the investment would mostly be around intelligence information and satellite activity, as well as retaining RAF and military experience within the county.

However, he said: “The question of selling those services to foreign powers, whether they’re friendly foreign powers or difficult foreign powers, that question still stands.”

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Councillor Hilton Spratt was positive about the potential for future investment.

“If a manufacturer came to Lincolnshire that would create hundreds of jobs in the defence procurement industry, for example, to supply air defence missiles to Ukraine, I don’t think this council will be in a position to turn it down,” he said.

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