Leicester

Airport hopes for doomed RAF Cottesmore

Harriers at RAF Cottesmore
Image caption Two squadrons of Harriers are stationed at Cottesmore

A Rutland RAF base earmarked for closure could be turned into a passenger airport, according to a county councillor.

RAF Cottesmore, currently home to two Harrier squadrons, is due to close in 2013 - with 2,000 jobs at stake.

There was no indication of any future military use for the base in the government's strategic defence review.

Conservative councillor Gene Plews said its location made it ideal for use as a regional airport.

"What we don't want to see in Rutland is a mothballed airfield," Mr Plews said.

"It's got great links from the north/south A1, and one road off the A1 on to the airfield, in my view, would provide direct access without egressing any Rutland village or upsetting any residents.

"What I'm hoping is that people will see Cottesmore as a great development opportunity to actually put something sustainable back into the Rutland economy.

"It's my belief that airport operators and investors are interested in Cottesmore once we know further what the MoD wants to do with the airfield."

He said the development of former RAF Finningley into Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport showed the feasibility of his hopes for Cottesmore.

After the closure of Cottesmore was announced, one of the base's four Harrier squadrons was disbanded and a second was moved to RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire.

The remaining jets were due to be transferred to RAF Wittering next year but this has been put in doubt by the scrapping of the Harrier fleet in the defence review.

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