Newquay Airport 'could become a rock concert venue'

Newquay airport Image copyright bbc
Image caption Newquay Airport costs owner Cornwall Council about £3m a year in subsidies

A Cornwall councillor has suggested the loss-making Newquay Airport could become a rock concert venue to help balance the books.

Cornwall Council, the airport's owner, subsidises the airport with about £3m a year.

But UKIP councillor Harry Blakeley said there was "no reason at all" why the airport could not host concerts, go-kart racing and other activities.

Cornwall Council said space was limited at the airport.

'Big enough'

Last year passenger numbers at the airport fell for a fifth year in a row to 174,000, down from 431,000 in 2008/9.

The airport, a former military base, was hit by Ryanair and Air Southwest pulling their flights in 2011.

And there is concern that the airport's links with Gatwick will end in the autumn when Flybe is set to pull out, saying the service it is not viable.

Councillor Blakeley said it was "big enough" for concerts.

"The only downside is road access which isn't good," he said.

"There are huge tracts of land and a go-kart area is probably an acre or an acre and a half.

"A lot of people would spend good money to have international facilities there."

He also suggested kite boarding.

"A lot of small drops make an ocean," he said.

TV filming

Councillor Adam Paynter, cabinet member for partnerships, which helps oversee the airport on the Independent-Liberal Democrat controlled council, said they would consider the proposal.

But he added: "The total acreage is about 861 acres - it is a big area but a lot is the Enterprise Zone which is 650 acres and 231 acres is development land, occupied by commercial companies and 87 acres is the solar park.

"We also get paid by the government to stay open as an emergency airfield. The runway is one of the largest in the country so any plane can land there."

Health and safety problems made it "very difficult" for the airport to host thousands of people at a concert, he added.

"The difficulty is keeping people apart from the commercial activities," he said. "The site is really not big enough."

The airport has already hosted car shows, eco-car races, police driver training and has been used for filming TV and commercials.

Income from these activities has risen from £80,000 in 2008 to more than £350,000 this year.

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