Funnily enough, when Clarkson’s column was discussed on PPRUNE*, some of the pilots there actually thought he had something of a point, if a little OTT. Civil aviation in the UK is highly regulated, more so than in the USA.
James May, Clarkson’s fellow presenter on Top Gear, is a private pilot in the UK, and flew a small plane across the whole of France in one of their “races” – which makes this article look to me at another episode of collegial ribbing, at least partly. Not to be taken too seriously.
*Professional Pilots’ Rumour Network: thread at http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=293403