CLARIFICATION: The "commercial operations" will not include companies such as airlines, it is understood.

MORE flights than ever before are expected at Old Sarum Airfield as the site owners announced it will be offering "unrestricted" flying for commercial operations.

But, in a statement sent by the owners of Old Sarum Airfield say the airfield will "remain closed to all private and recreational flying" but it will "henceforth operate on a long term commercially contracted basis with unrestricted flying as a unique selling point".

This, the statement said, would "provide a positive return to the owners instead of the substantial operating losses caused by the need to severely restrict operations".

The "commercial operations" will not include airlines, it is understood.

Yesterday, GoSkydive said it had reached a multi-year agreement with the airfield owners at Old Sarum and it would be operating from the airfield throughout 2020 and beyond.

READ MORE: GoSkydive signs new agreement to continue operations at Old Sarum Airfield

The statement from the owners of Old Sarum Airfield said: "The new multi-year deal with GoSkydive will allow that company to make unrestricted commercial use of the airfield, operating seven days each week with expanded hours of operation. This is the first of the new unlimited flying contracts and will permit GoSkydive to expand its operation to include parachute training and sport parachuting. As the new business develops the number of aircraft movements will increase significantly and it is expected that the number of GoSkydive aircraft operating at the airfield will increase."

The airfield announced its closure plans in the summer after a planning inspector turned down an appeal by Old Sarum Airfield Limited against Wiltshire Council after the authority refused planning permission to build 462 homes and create a “flying hub”, complete with a heritage centre, visitor centre, restaurant, and new control tower at the site.

The statement from Old Sarum Airfield said: "Old Sarum Airfield’s owners’ deep commitment to saving the airfield as a living example of the nation’s aviation heritage while also limiting operations and noise had been on display for 12 years. These restricted operations transformed potential profits into substantial operating losses as the Council well knew and its own expert has recorded. This loss of profits and revenue shortfalls has been underwritten in its entirety by the owners under an agreement with the Council reached in 2007. Based on the Council’s actions and testimony at the recent appeal this agreement has clearly been breached by Council with the result that it will no longer be implemented.

"While GoSkydive is the first of what is expected to be several commercial arrangements for operations at the airfield, the airfield will remain closed to all private and recreational flying, indeed all operations other than commercial arrangements entered into by Old Sarum Airfield Ltd.

"When questioned by the planning inspector our managing director made it clear at the recent appeal that if permission was refused the only “fall back” position consistent with preserving the heritage of the airfield would be increased commercial activity based on unlimited flying, bringing to an end a dozen years of loss-making, tightly restricted public flying.

"It is very much regretted that this change in operations has proved to be necessary. The airfield’s owners, management and staff have spent three decades attempting to keep the airfield open without exercising its rights to unlimited flying, dating as they do back to the time before the Town and Country Planning Act. Cynically utilizing the airfield owners’ sincere concerns for the many families who are susceptible to aircraft noise damaging their quality of life and property values, the Council has been responsible for the owners losing an eight figure sum in operating losses, foregone profits and wasted planning costs – all incurred at the invitation of the Council. All due to Council’s breach of its 2007 agreement – made in good faith by both parties at the time but subsequently treated with cynicism, even contempt by some subsequent and current officers.

"This change will mean that the airfield will henceforth operate on a long term commercially contracted basis with unrestricted flying as a unique selling point. This will provide a positive return to the owners instead of the substantial operating losses caused by the need to severely restrict operations as had been requested by and agreed with the local council in return for cooperation in processing planning made in accord with the Core Policy, the Local Plan and the decisions of the first 2 Inspectors. Planning which would have seen continued restricted flying plus new noise controls along with reinvestment of millions into the existing heritage structures and the new permanent home for the National Aerospace Library and Artefacts Museum plus other substantial planning gains to the benefit of near and not-so-near neighbours."

Councillor Toby Sturgis, Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning said: “The Local Plan provides the framework within which decisions about developments are made. It contains a specific planning policy for the airfield which has taken over from any earlier draft policies including the one from 2007. At the recent public inquiry, the Inspector agreed with the council that the development proposals put forward by the company did not accord with The Local Plan.

"She was unambiguous in concluding that the development to build 462 houses on Old Sarum Airfield would harm the setting both of Old Sarum and the listed hangars at the airfield, and would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Old Sarum Conservation area."

He added: “Aircraft noise is specifically excluded from the noise control legislation used by local authorities. This means councils do not have the legal powers to take action on matters of aircraft noise. However the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advises anyone who has a complaint about aircraft noise to take it up with the operator of the airfield. We would encourage the airfield owners to be mindful of their neighbours to ensure the right balance is achieved.”