SEPTEMBER 4, 2008
A mess in Leicestershire
East Midlands Airport is complaining about alleged abuses of Donington Park's licences. The airport General Manager Neil Robinson told a hearing that a fairground ride TV broadcast platforms, mobile phone towers and other constructions led to the airport being forced to close down a 400m section of runway and divert two big cargo planes which could not land because of the hazards. He said that the circuit failed to notify the airport about the erection of structures.
"A systematic management failure at the premises has led to a number of instances where the safe operation of aircraft could have been endangered," he said.
The council review of the track's licence came just weeks after the circuit won the right to host the F1 British Grand Prix in a 10-year deal from 2010. Robinson said that under the terms of the licensing, the circuit must give at least 28 days' written notice to the airport and wait for confirmation before installing structures. He claimed that during June's MotoGP motorcycle race, the airport was concerned about a fairground ride and seven eight-metre high telegraph poles put up "in close proximity to the runway" and infringing on airspace.
"As a result of these obstacles, the airport could not continue normal operations. The airport was forced to issue a notice to pilots to this effect and to declare a reduced runway length," he said.
The licensing review came about because of complaints from Leicestershire police. The circuit has accepted that that there were "significant failings".
The three-man North West Leicestershire District Council panel decided Donington Park could keep its liquor and entertainment licence, but imposed tougher conditions, forcing it to comply with police and airport requests.
Police applied for the review hearing after the park failed a string of underage alcohol test purchases in June. Teenagers, working underground for the police, found that they were sold alcohol at 14 different bars. Under the new conditions, the park will now have to hire an event safety coordinator for each gathering of 20,000 or more people and submit an "aerodrome safeguarding plan" to the airport before major events.