Airport watchdog condems tax plan

A Norwich airport watchdog tonight condemned bosses for failing to consult it over plans to introduce a controversial departure tax.Members of the Norwich Airport Consultative Committee, an organisation required by the Department for Transport by law, said they felt as if they had been “run over” following news of the £3 tax and want to hold an emergency meeting with bosses.

A Norwich airport watchdog tonight condemned bosses for failing to consult it over plans to introduce a controversial departure tax.

Members of the Norwich Airport Consultative Committee, an organisation required by the Department for Transport by law, said they felt as if they had been “run over” following news of the £3 tax and want to hold an emergency meeting with bosses.

However Richard Jenner, managing director of Norwich International Airport, said the commercial issue of the tax was not in the committee's remit and that it was set up to consult on matters of community interest.

As reported in the EDP today airport bosses are to levy the charge to fund a £18m expansion plan despite its owners resisting pressure to introduce a similar tax for measures to offset carbon emissions.

Shelagh Gurney, a Broadland district and Norfolk county councillor as well as a member of the committee, said the first thing members knew about the tax was in the news.

She said that nothing had been mentioned in a meeting of the committee and airport officials on February 19.

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A statement issued by her and fellow committee member and councillor Tony Adams, read: “People who choose to travel by rail are not expected to fund railway lines. They will be asking us to buy the planes next.

“As representatives for a large number of electorate who use and support the airport, we are very concerned that we were not consulted.”

John Pennells, chairman of the committee, said he was shocked at the news of the tax and wanted to call a meeting to discuss the issue with the airport's management.

But Mr Jenner said: “Our view is that the committee's remit is to count for the interests of the community and the impact the airport has on it in terms of things like noise but that it is not there to consider commercially sensitive issues.”

Mr Jenner said the committee is being consulted on with regards to the expansion plans for which the tax will be imposed and added that the tax was not mentioned in its last meeting as it was a confidential matter at that point.