Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 09:34 UK

Legal battle for airport begins

Llanbedr airfield
The site's new operators insist the airport plans will go ahead

Conservationists have started legal proceedings in a bid to halt proposals for a commercial airport in Snowdonia.

The Snowdonia Society has written to the Welsh Assembly Government setting out a proposed claim for judicial review.

The dispute centres on a 125-year lease for a former military airfield at Llanbedr, near Harlech, Gwynedd.

However, new operators Kemble Air Services insist the deal will go ahead despite a potential High Court hearing.

"There's no question of us pulling out because of a threat from an unelected body," said David Young of the air operators.

"I've been to Llanbedr this week with two of our other directors. We had an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone we met. There's a huge amount of goodwill."

The society has been attempting to seek confirmation that Welsh ministers have acted lawfully
David Firth, Snowdonia Society

Legal action was first threatened by the new director of the Snowdonia Society, former assembly government culture minister Alun Pugh.

He argued that evidence to show that leasing the site met special planning requirements for national parks such as Snowdonia had not been produced.

In a letter to assembly government Counsel General Carwyn Jones, the chairman of the society David Firth spelt out why it intends pursuing legal action.

"Since 3 March, the society has been attempting to seek confirmation that Welsh ministers have acted lawfully by several freedom of information act requests to see evidence," he stated.

"This information has not been supplied."

Opponents to the airport development claim it will harm the environment and deter tourism in the area

Petition

However, the assembly government has previously insisted that the development is simply a continuation of flying at the site.

The airport also has the backing of many local residents, who handed a 1,000-name petition to their AM, Lord Elis-Thomas.

Gwynli Jones, a former community councillor from near Harlech, collected the signatures and claimed the air operations would benefit the area.

"This place was run as an airfield from 1939 until it closed four years ago. If anything it is more noisy since it closed because now jets from [RAF] Valley fly over," he said.

"The whole area from Barmouth to Porthmadog wants this. In the 1,000 people I asked to sign the petition, only one man refused."




SEE ALSO
Legal action threat over airport
11 May 08 |  North West Wales
Airport 'will ruin' national park
07 May 08 |  North West Wales
Airfield takeover by private firm
26 Feb 08 |  North West Wales
Former MoD airfield up for sale
07 Sep 07 |  North West Wales

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