NATS owns a number of sites where traditionally it has stationed multiple radars, radio masts and accommodation, however advances in technology mean many of these sites now stand largely empty and unmanned and can be sold without impacting NATS’ ability to provide a service.
With air traffic volumes at only 40% of where there were in 2019, NATS is seeking buyers for these excess acres to both reduce its costs and bring in revenue. The move will also see these disused sites brought back into practical use for their local communities.
Paul Hughes, NATS Head of Assets and Development, says: “This is absolutely not about selling off the family silver – we are maintaining full ownership and access to all our critical infrastructure, but where we have land and accommodation we no longer need, it makes sense to find a better use for it, while also helping us reduce our maintenance and running costs at what remains a very difficult time for the aviation industry.”
NATS has a total of 70 acres of land available for sale at sites in Prestwick, Debden, Pailton, Preston, Stornoway and Hillingdon, with more being sought, and has had interest from a number of potential buyers, including home builders and local entrepreneurs.
Paul continues: “One of the sites we’ve sold in North Devon in Burrington is being converted into a facility for local artists, another to a local business keen to set up a workshop and showroom. It’s to everyone’s benefit that this land finds new uses.”
As part of its broader COVID response strategy, NATS has also partnered with the company Shared Access to begin actively leasing space on its sites to different mobile network operators.
Paul concludes: “We have 124 sites all over the country that would be perfect locations for mobile phone networks to put their own masts and antenna, helping to improve coverage in harder to reach locations and giving us a new source of income.”
Developers or mobile network operators that are interested in working with NATS are being encouraged to get in contact.
Part of the Burrington radar site will become a series of workshops for local artists.