MICHAEL Gove is still solidly behind campaigners against a garden village being built on the Fairoaks Airport land.
The MP for Surrey Heath – who was recently appointed Environment Secretary – reasserted his opposition during a visit to the Chobham airfield and business complex on Friday last week.
Mr Gove was taken on a tour of Fairoaks by Douglas Mancini, chairman of the No Fairoaks New Town group. Also present was James Derbyshire from the General Infrastructure Network, which campaigns to keep small airfields operating.
Mr Gove talked to representatives of businesses including High Level Photography, Gamma Aviation, Surrey Car Craft and Synergy Aviation before being taken up in a light aircraft to tour the area.
“It was a great pleasure to meet everyone at Fairoaks, and to listen to their reactions and fears about the potential loss of their precious airport,” he said.
MP Michael Gove with Douglas Mancini (left) and James Derbyshire
“I am hugely grateful that I was given the opportunity to view the airport from on high, which was a truly remarkable and beautiful sight, and it certainly put the large scale of the redevelopment proposals into perspective.
“I shall continue to campaign to say ‘no’ to the redevelopment here, until we get absolute guarantees and insurances.”
He added that many residents had told him of their alarm that Fairoaks is threatened with large-scale redevelopment and that they are worried about the impact on Chobham and neighbouring villages.
Mr Mancini told the News & Mail: “Mr Gove heard from several businesses that they will find it difficult to find new premises if they have to move from Fairoaks due to redevelopment.
“All of the companies at the airport are doing very well and have plans to expand. If they have to go it will mean jobs moving from the village, including apprenticeships which some of them have.”
Despite their bid for garden village support being turned down by the Government earlier this year, the Fairoaks owners are pressing ahead with plans for large-scale housing development.
A spokesman for Fairoaks Garden Village Ltd told the News & Mail: “Over the last few months the Fairoaks Garden Village team has continued to develop plans for a new village community at Fairoaks.
“To support the proposals we have undertaken a number of surveys and technical assessments and are using the results, along with the outcomes of our conversations with members of the community, to help shape our plans.
“In the months after the summer holidays we will hold a series of public exhibitions and ask for further feedback.”