Minister tells South Yorkshire Mayor ‘clear’ government grant is available to reopen Doncaster Sheffield Airport
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Mark Harper has responded to the accusation by Oliver Coppard, the South Yorkshire Mayor, that he had refused flexibility about the reallocation of £30m of the so-called City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS) funding so the Doncaster Sheffield Airport could reopen.
In a letter sent (and published on Twitter by Nick Fletcher, the Don Valley MP) to the mayor on February 1, Mr Harper said that CRSTS was awarded “against criteria that applied to all bids”.
Mr Harper said among the factors was that the funding was for local transport and needed to be contributed to cutting carbon emissions.
Any changes to the delivery plans, he added, required approval from both Mr Harper’s department and the Treasury.
He added the government was supporting South Yorkshire through “Gainshare funding, making £900m available through £30m per year over 30 years”.
He said: “This is exactly the funding which the Mayor of Teesside used to support Teesside Airport and is consequently very likely to be suitable for your needs.
“I am sure we can both agree that it is excellent news that there is clear Government grant available that you can choose to support Doncaster Sheffield Airport.”
DSA closed in 2022 after owner Peel Group said it was financially unviable.
As reported last week, Oliver Coppard had written to Mr Harper to consider his proposal to reallocate the £30m – from the Gateway East Rail project.
Mr Coppard accused Mr Harper of previously turning down “those requests for greater flexibility to be applied to that money”, and claimed the funding was at risk of being unspent within CRSTS timescales.
A DfT spokesperson told the LDRS that it was “not right to say that the minister blocked a bid as no formal request or submission was received from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority”.
She said: “South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority have not submitted a formal request or business case to use CRSTS funding for the airport, and therefore ministers have not reviewed any such request.
“The letter received from the mayor does not amount to a formal submission, but we will respond to it in due course.”