PILOTS have welcomed the opening of a newly-resurfaced runway.
The £1.5m runway work at Daedalus airfield in Lee-on-the-Solent was finished and it opened on Tuesday.
Jon Butts is the chairman of Lee Flying Association, based at the site.
He said the work – paid for by Fareham Borough Council – would attract more investment in future.
‘Aviation is definitely cresting the hill at the moment,’ Mr Butts said.
‘We’ve been pushing up hill for seven or eight years since the airfield was slated for closure.
‘It’s been done through business investment through Fareham Borough Council.
‘They’ve been visionary and courageous in doing this.
‘We’ve still got a way to go on this ground but the enabling investment has been made.’
As reported, the former HMS Daedalus site has been designated an enterprise zone, with firms moving on to it taking advantage of huge business rates discounts.
Fareham council leader Sean Woodward said the resurfacing of the 4,265ft runway means that bigger aircraft can use the site if it is licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘The council has spent £1.5m on resurfacing the runway. It’s fantastic.
‘It means we can bring in more significant aircraft for maintenance.
‘We’ve got a lot more to do – the next stage is to get it licensed.
‘At the moment it’s an unlicensed airfield, now it’s at the quality where it can be licenced.’
He added that Cessna craft and turboprop aircraft could use the field if it is licensed.
But he sounded a note of caution about the scale of flights at the site.
He added: ‘It’s not going to turn into Heathrow.’
‘You could bring in a 747 but you couldn’t get it off again.’
Around 3,500 jobs are expected to be created over the course of the enterprise zone’s life by 2026. Fareham council launched a bid to buy the site.