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Donington: Airport proposal "bonkers" claims Councillor

NEWS STORY
04/01/2009

Ahead of North West Leicestershire District Council's verdict on the 'master-plan' for Donington Park, which hopes to host the British Grand Prix from 2010, a senior councillor has dismissed one of the proposals being put forward as "bonkers".

In addition to a park and ride scheme, which would see as many as 90,000 race fans bussed into the circuit, circuit boss Simon Gillet has claimed that there is an agreement in place which would see East Midlands Airport heavily cutting back on flights over the duration of the race weekend, possibly even suspending all normal flight activity during certain periods. Instead, the airport, which virtually adjoins the land on which the race-track is situated, would almost exclusively concentrate on Grand Prix (air) traffic.

We are working with them to ensure we minimise their traffic," said Gillet recently. "We don't necessarily have to fully close them, but we are thinking when the race is on, no one is going to be flying in or out. The idea is that at peak times the airport has exclusive use for Formula One and us."

However, this has come as a surprise to many locals, not least Councillor Nicholas Rushton, county council cabinet member for highways, and indeed, East Midlands Airport.

"There are no discussions to close at this time," an airport spokesman told the Leicester Mercury. "As far as we are concerned we will carry on as normal."

Councillor Rushton was a little more forthright: "As far as I am concerned, they are completely and utterly bonkers," he said. "East Midlands Airport is completely commercially run and I would be surprised if they would agree to stop their flights."

Ironically, logistics giant DHL, which was recently announced, along with LG, as an official partner of F1, has its main British hub located at East Midlands Airport.

North West Leicestershire District Council is due to deliver its the circuits 100 million master-plan on Thursday, with Gillet confident that it will get the go-ahead.

"We have done it on a calculated risk," he told the Leicester Mercury, "but we are confident we have the planning in the bag.

"It's not as if we've not worked with the council," he added. "We've been in consultation with them, and we're recommended for approval, so we're going there on January 8 expecting to walk out with a piece of paper."

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