Proposals for a new airport in the Midlands could effect equestrian business in the area

Plans to increase airport capacity in the Midlands could affect thousands of riders, cause equestrian businesses to close and even halt the development of a national equestrian centre at Stoneleigh.

Proposals for a new £7 billion airport development between Rugby and Coventry in Warwickshire suggest that it would have the capacity for 77 million passengers per year and would combine the passenger business from the existing Birmingham airport with the freight duties of the Coventry cargo terminal.

Two Warwickshire villages – home to a number of equestrian businesses, including two riding schools and several competition yards – would be wiped out by the development and large tracts of the countryside blighted by being on the flightpath of one of the largest air terminals in Europe.

Transport specialists estimate that 500,000 people could be affected by the noise.

An alternative proposal is to increase dramatically the capacity of Coventry airport.

This could also have ominous prospects – the Coventry terminal is just two miles from the National Agricultural Centre (NAC) at Stoneleigh, where the British Equestrian Federation and the Royal Agricultural Society (RASE) plan to establish an international equestrian competition centre.

The NAC already hosts major equestrian events such as the Royal Show and the national dressage championships and RASE is watching the developments carefully.

Director of exhibitions David Storrar said: “We just don’t knowwhat will happen at the moment. While flights from the proposed new site at Rugby would probably not affect us any more than existing air traffic, expansion of Coventry could potentially be much more serious. We just have to wait and see what comes out of the consultation period.”

Last week, Birmingham airport, previously threatened with closure, entered the debate by unveiling new expansion plans.

The BHS has produced an online questionnaire to try to ascertain exactly how many riders and equestrian businesses will be affected by the development and will use the results to help campaign against the proposals.

For more information visit www.bhs.org.uk

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