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Is RAF Northolt being turned into 'little Heathrow'?

We've examined the claims made by worried locals

Aerial shot of RAF Northolt(Image: Google Maps)

Concerns have been raised over the future of RAF Northolt with many people living nearby suggesting the air base will be turned into a commercial airport.

getwestlondon decided to investigate claims that the airbase, which is also used as a private airport, could become a "little Heathrow", just five miles away from one of the world's busiest airports.

The airfield is due to close in 2018 for improvements to the runway , which anti-commercial campaigners Stop Northolt suggest is a ruse to set the airfield up to receive larger passenger commercial planes.

A spokesman from the RAF confirmed that the improvements were to extend the life of the runway and there is no official documentation to suggest this isn't the case.

RAF Northolt opened in 1915(Image: TMS)

The spokesman also described Northolt as a "core" RAF site, adding that work would be carried out as swiftly as possible to return the site to operational condition.

RAF Northolt is currently also being used as a private airport, advertising itself online as "London's premier business aviation airport".

The spokesman admitted that the airfield is used significantly by private commercial aircraft, as opposed to airline operators like British Airways or EasyJet .

The planes use up "spare" capacity at the airfield and military use always has priority, we were told.

The revenue generated by using RAF Northolt as a private airfield provides a better deal for the taxpayer.

Private aircraft use 'spare' capacity at the airfield(Image: TMS)

“Civilian commercial flights at RAF Northolt will continue to utilise spare capacity to ensure we get the best return for the taxpayer, the closure of the airfield for renovation has no association with commercialisation," the RAF spokesman said.

Use of the airfield by private planes will continue up to the closure of the airfield and resume once improvements are complete, the spokesman confirmed.

Liberal Democrat election candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Rosina Robson, said:

“The Stop Northolt campaign says the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has increased the number of non-military flights from 7,000 to 12,000 every year without consulting with local residents.

”Any substantial change of use for an airport – especially a military facility - should go through a proper consultation with the public. There should be a fair and full planning process to cover this, but the local Conservative council seems to have let this change of use happen by stealth.”

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