Agreement over Daedalus despite warning of risks

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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VAST swathes of land which is earmarked for use in the Daedalus Enterprise Zone could soon be under the control of Fareham’s council.

Fareham Borough Council decided last night that it would put itself forward to become the long-term landowner of the Daedalus site, which sits between both Fareham and Gosport.

Plans to invest £10m in the site were met with little opposition at the council’s executive meeting.

Members of the executive said the plans were risky but decided having a working airfield and investment from aviation businesses outweighed the possible risks.

But for Councillor Paul Whittle, Lib Dem opposition leader, the risks are too high to warrant such investments.

He said: ‘It has been said that if the council doesn’t invest in Daedalus then it would close. I don’t know if the public would think that saving the airfield was the most important use of money.

‘I think it is a risk for the council to be investing £10m into Daedalus.

‘We are not here to be the last resort for a potential white elephant.’

As previously reported in The News, Fareham Borough Council was looking to take over all of the land which falls within the Fareham council boundary – about 80 per cent of the total – as well as some which falls within Gosport.
The agreement would see the land transferred from the Homes and Community Agency to the council.
This is expected to happen in March next year after which the council can invest in temporary and permanent hangars as well as resurfacing the runway.
And for Councillor Connie Hockley, who sits on the board, the plans are exciting.
She said: ‘I think the Daedalus plans are very innovative and exciting. It is full of risks but life is full of risks.
‘I just don’t think we can sit back and do nothing.
‘We know about the risks but this council has a fantastic track record of managing risks.’
Councillor Keith Evans agreed. He added: ‘With any long-term projects there are risks but the figures in the report does show some great investment.’
Speaking in his conclusion, council leader Councillor Sean Woodward said: ‘There are a number of advantages to moving into the Daedalus site. We are showing we are prudent in knowing the risks but it also shows we can deal with them.’