Waddington Air Show cancellation spurs hope for RAF Scampton event

Lincoln politicians, tourism bosses and the public have reacted to the news that the Waddington International Air Show has been permanently scrapped by the Royal Air Force.

As previously reported, the RAF has been conducting a review of its air show commitments and announced that the popular show will no longer be held at Waddington due to “significant security concerns and operational risks.”

In a statement, the RAF suggested that it would be possible to hold an air show at RAF Scampton but not until 2017 at the earliest.

More than 135,000 people attended over the two days of the 2014 Waddington Air Show. Photo: SAC Lauren Pope

More than 135,000 people attended over the two days of the 2014 Waddington Air Show. Photo: SAC Lauren Pope

One of the first to comment was Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, who said that Lincolnshire County Council wanted to move the Waddington Air Show out of his constituency to RAF Scampton, despite his long-running campaign for it to be restored to the calendar.

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney. Photo: Steve Smailes/The Lincolnite

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney. Photo: Steve Smailes/The Lincolnite

McCartney said: “Whilst I understand that operational activity and increased security threats have raised the risk of hosting a major public event at RAF Waddington in my constituency, I’m naturally extremely disappointed by the decision of the Air Force Board Standing Committee who’ve decided that no further air shows will be hosted at the station.

“Of course, this very sad news is tempered by the plans for a similar event to be hosted at RAF Scampton in due course.

“In the run up to the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, it is important to all of us in Bomber (and Fighter) County that we retain an International Air Show very close to its original home just north of Lincoln in Scampton, the home of the Red Arrows, and that the RAF intends to maintain its traditional and modern links to Lincolnshire.

“Maybe now the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will relocate to the same base too.”

Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Martin Hill, has disputed McCartney’s account of events.

He said: “Karl is incorrect – the council has not been campaigning for the air show to be moved to Scampton. The RAF have made it clear that their decision is solely motivated by security concerns and operational issues, and we respect that.”

Mary Powell, tourism development manager at the county council, added: “The Waddington Air Show has always been a popular event in the county calendar, but, at the same time, contributes a relatively small part of the £1.2bn generated by Lincolnshire’s tourism and culture sectors.

“This year has been a big one for the county, with the re-opening of Lincoln Castle and the celebrations for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

“And we’re looking to build on that momentum, helping to mitigate the economic impact of the air show being cancelled.

“The RAF plays an important and growing role in the county that the council is keen to build upon and support.

“We await news on the future of the air show and whether it will be relocated with interest.”

Mary Powell. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Mary Powell. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincoln residents have also given their thoughts to the cancellation of the show on The Lincolnite’s Facebook page.

David Robinson said: “It’s really sad that the Waddington Air Show as been cancelled, not good news for the city, or the guys down at the Sentry Post Viewing Enclosure, but I suppose security concerns have to come first.”

Kate Hugill said: “Relocating makes sense. You can’t really have a major, strategic base open to the public during a crisis like the one with ISIS/Syria.

“Their primary role is to defend the country, not provide national events. It’s about priorities.”

Trevor Gibbs added: “Taking it to RAF Scampton makes total sense. They need to build a good sized visitor centre/museum to celebrate The Dambusters at Scampton and tidy the place up a bit.”