Reigate MP Crispin Blunt has welcomed the recent Planning Inspector's decision to refuse the appeal for a hard runway at Redhill Aerodrome.

A Public Inquiry was held into the appeal in January, at which Mr Blunt appeared and gave evidence.

The MP argued that development of a hard runway at the airstrip in Kings Mill Lane, Redhill, would result in an unacceptable breach of national Green Belt policy and cause harm to the surrounding natural environment. He also said that the economic arguments put forward by the aerodrome as to the development's supposed benefits were flawed.

In the published report, Planning Inspector Diane Lewis refused the appeal, judging that the plan would bring "harm to the Green Belt," and stated that "the loss of openness and encroachment into the countryside" weighed heavy in her decision.

Commenting on the Inspector's report, Mr Blunt said: "In their appeal, the aerodrome's owners placed acute emphasis on the alleged economic and employment benefits that the development would bring.”

He said: “It was my riposte that our borough's economy and employment situation are comparatively strong, certainly when put against the picture nationally - unemployment is at 1.7% in Reigate, whilst it is 3.8% across the UK as a whole. “Therefore, it was entirely disingenuous for the aerodrome to claim that they are responding to a major sub-regional jobs crisis.”

He concluded: “I am delighted that the Planning Inspector shares my view that we should not allow such heavy breach of national Green Belt policy on a weak economic argument. “I'm very happy with today's news."

East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah also welcomed the Planning Inspector's rejection of Redhill Aerodrome's appeal against Reigate and Banstead Borough Council's and Tandridge District Council's decisions to refuse planning permission to build a hard runway at the airfield. Redhill Aerodrome Limited's appeal, though attacked by people and groups including Salfords and Sidlow Parish Council and the Gatwick Airport Conservation Campaign (GACC), did have the support of some, including the Crawley-based Gatwick Diamond Business forum. Ann Bartaby, director of Redhill Aerodrome Limited, said they were “extremely disappointed” by the Inspector's decision, calling it “a great pity that the livelihoods of so many people and the opportunities for additional jobs, training and apprenticeships” had been “given so little weight.”

She concluded that they would now take time to review the operation of the aerodrome, in conjunction with their tenants “with a view to making best use of the existing facilities.”