Lincolnshire

Axed air show 'must move to Red Arrows base'

Ground Control Station for the Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) Reaper at RAF Waddington Image copyright PA
Image caption Reaper drone aircraft are piloted remotely from RAF Waddington

An air show axed over "increased security concerns" must be relocated nearby for the sake of the local economy, a council leader has said.

The RAF decided its annual air show can no longer be held at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, where there have been numerous protests against Reaper drones being remotely piloted from the site.

Councillors want the air show to move to RAF Scampton, also in Lincolnshire, where the Red Arrows are based.

The RAF said that "would be possible".

Its statement continued: "However, further work is needed to address significant legal, commercial and infrastructure issues.

"The RAF is making every effort to resolve these issues, but it is regretted that this work will mean that it will not be possible to hold an air show at RAF Scampton until 2017 at the earliest."

RAF Scampton is about 10 miles away from RAF Waddington and is in the district of West Lindsey.

Jeff Summers, leader of West Lindsey District Council, said: "We will be making an official representation to the powers that be to bring this event to Scampton."

Image copyright Drone Campaign Network
Image caption Several protests against the RAF's use of drones have been held at RAF Waddington

RAF Scampton would be the ideal choice, he said, because of its history as the home of the Dambusters.

He added that Lincolnshire's economy would lose "a tremendous amount" if the county lost the air show completely.

Waddington International Air Show has been held since 1995 but was cancelled this year, with the RAF saying this was because of work to refurbish the runway.

Monthly protests against the RAF's use of drones were held outside the base throughout 2014.

Six protesters - including two priests - were found guilty of criminal damage after breaking into the base in June 2013.

Four people were arrested after cutting through the fence and entering the base on 5 January this year, and are due to stand trial later this month.

A large demonstration is due to be held this Saturday for the start of Drones Week of Action.

Rod Whiting, BBC Radio Lincolnshire

Image copyright Getty Images

The RAF's decision comes as no great surprise - the writing was on the wall when it was announced a review was to be held into the future of RAF air shows.

Ostensibly the problem here was the runway work but sources made it known that security and workload were the major factors behind the review of the Waddington Air Show.

This has become a very busy military base and the commitment required from service personnel to host an event for more than 130,000 visitors was asking a lot of an organisation that has been stretched by defence cuts in recent years.

That said, it had become a massive part of the county social calendar and was a big hit with many local people who've been thrilled down the years by the best of the world's aerobatics teams, not least by Lincolnshire's very own Red Arrows.

They of course will still be seen in our skies but the RAF has tantalisingly suggested that it would be possible to hold an air show at the home of the Red Arrows.

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