Future of Red Arrows show ‘up in the air’ as environmental debate continues 

The Red Arrows flying over Sidmouth during the Airshow

The Red Arrows flying over Sidmouth during the Airshow - Credit: Sidmouth Town Council

Uncertainty continues over the future of Sidmouth Airshow as concerns are raised over its environmental impact. 

Sidmouth Town Council is currently exploring local views on the Airshow and has carried out an initial survey of local residents, which showed overwhelming support. 

But no decision will be made until later this year after further research has been carried out. This will include a consultation of local businesses on the Airshow’s economic benefits, a traffic survey, and information on the fuel consumption of the Red Arrows and other aircraft, along with the emissions they produce. 

The results of the residents’ survey were discussed at the town council’s meeting on Monday, July 4. 

The online poll attracted 869 responses from the EX10 area – almost all extremely supportive. 

Just under 91 per cent said they thought the event brings an overall positive benefit to the people and community, and almost the same percentage wanted the Airshow to return in future years. 

But the survey did not ask for views on the show’s environmental impact, and some people took to Facebook to express those concerns. 

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The comments on the Herald's Facebook page in response to the announcement of the survey included:

"At a time when we are discouraging people from flying because of the effect on the environment and climate change I don't believe we should be encouraging airshows. There must be a less damaging way to bring people into Sidmouth." 

"I struggle to understand how a display by the Red Arrows can be described as climate friendly. The emissions from the planes must be significant. And that's before thousands of people drive to the event."

At Monday’s meeting, councillors accepted that there are environmental concerns about Sidmouth’s Airshow, but were divided over whether discontinuing it would bring any real benefits. Cllr Steven Kendall-Torry said: “If we give up the Red Arrows they’ll go somewhere else in a heartbeat – it'll still happen but it won’t happen here, and we’ll only have gained the moral high ground.” 

The council will discuss its options on the Airshow again in October, after all the necessary research has been completed. It was agreed that the collection at this year’s Airshow on Friday, August 26 will go towards the cost of staging that event, in case a decision is taken to cancel next year's show.