THOUSANDS of people have backed a campaign against plans to further control the skies over Oxfordshire.

The joint proposals from RAF Brize Norton and Oxford Airport to triple the 'controlled airspace' in the area aim to boost safety and ensure effective coordination between the Kidlington airport and RAF base.

Critics - who call the plans the biggest airspace grab in the South West for a generation - say the move is 'completely disproportionate to the requirements of the airports involved'.

The petition was launched two weeks ago by a group known as The Free Flying Community of the UK and has quickly amassed nearly 3,000 supporters.

Its opening statement reads: “These proposals constitute an enormous threat to the free flying community.

“It is the largest single airspace grab in the south west of England in a generation, and which we consider to be completely disproportionate to the requirements of the airports involved.

“If approved they will seriously impact your ability to fly freely and safely.”

Many members of the flying community have raised concerns about the impact on gliders and light aircraft - increasing the risk of collisions by forcing them unto narrower corridors of uncontrolled airspace.

Those signing the petition - many of them pilots of light aircraft - outlined their objections to the plans.

One, Mark Young, said: “The airspace is not appropriate and in the case of Brize Norton they are not operating a public transport operation.”

Another, Tony Conway, added: “Airspace is not the property of the military or commercial operations.

“Aviation enthusiasts should not be pushed out of the sky to accommodate them.”

In its statement on the proposals, Oxford Airport explained its motivations.

The airport said: “In collaboration with Brize Norton, London Oxford Airport is looking to introduce new GPS-based arrival procedures and restructure the local airspace to protect these procedures within controlled airspace.

“The re-design will enhance levels of safety on the London Oxford Airport approach and improves efficiency by reducing the number of broken off approaches and the environmental impact of these extended flights.

“The new designs will also ensure effective coordination between London Oxford Airport and Brize Norton.”

Sharone Parnes - a town councillor in Woodstock, just a couple of miles away from Oxford Airport - said the plans were common sense.

He said: “It’s obvious to me how essential it is – for pilots, passengers and everyone else – to ensure the airport will be able to identify all aircraft in the proposed airspace, and where they are headed; and, preferably also to communicate with the pilots.

“Safety is the first and foremost consideration. Let’s face it – massive urban sprawl is already significantly eroding green field spaces that could otherwise have been available for emergency landings.

“This creates all the more need to introduce procedures and systems that can help ensure emergency incidents can be avoided.

“Developments on the ground add to the need for enhanced flight control of activity in the air. Times are changing and so must airspace. It’s for everyone’s safety, including the hobbyists.”

In December the Oxford Mail reported on London Oxford Airport’s desire to expand and run commercial flights across Europe.

A poll on revealed that many would support the airport expanding onto the Green Belt.

The consultation on the proposals closed on April 5.