A FORMER RAF base in North Yorkshire could become the county's first international airport, but it would need new planning permission first, say council bosses.

The old airbase at Church Fenton, near Tadcaster, now known as Leeds East Airport, has been granted a licence by the Civil Aviation Authority to operate chartered flights from next year.

Makin Enterprise, the owner of the airport, hopes flights will begin next May, and proposes to operate no more than four flights a day to places including Malaga in Spain, Faro in Portugal and Cannes in the French Riviera.

Since buying the airfield from the Ministry of Defence in December 2014, Makin Enterprise has created 300 jobs and could create another 150.

However, Selby District Council believes the airport would need new planning permission before its proposals could go ahead.

A spokesperson for the council said: "On the basis of current information we have about the proposals, we believe that planning permission would be required to operate public commercial flights from Church Fenton.

"At the moment, no application for permission has been submitted to the council.

"If planning permission is submitted, and this would be a matter for the site owners, the council’s role would be to consider the application in terms of the impact and benefit for the local community and wider district.

"This would be considered in terms of our long-term development plans for the district, which seek to deliver sustainable growth and open up new business opportunities, whilst supporting the needs of our rural communities.

"We have an ongoing constructive dialogue with the site owners and have been in regular contact with them. We’re aware of their long-term ambitions for the site."

York Press:

Makin Enterprise wants to offer a "first class service", with return flights expected to cost around £1,000.

Sally Rafferty, general manager of the airport, said: "If we need planning permission we will look into this and submit an application if required.
"We plan to do chartered flights. We can now do them in Europe and the UK, we couldn't do any chartered flights before."

Church Fenton parish councillor Jo Mason claims the community has not been consulted over the plans.

She said: "There has been no consultation on whether or not a commercial airport is a suitable activity."

"At the moment there is no planning permission for a commercial airport.

"My personal view is that is should come under the planning system.

"The owners of the airfield seem to think it's not a change of use from an RAF training base. I would beg to differ.

"The Civil Aviation Authority has also advised me they need planning permission. Everything other than aircraft safety would come under the planning system.

"It's incredible to think they could offer a commercial airport in a rural residential area without planning permission.

"The biggest concern for me would be noise. If it was to generate traffic I would also be concerned about that. The roads around here can' take anoy more traffic."