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Bentwaters: Air base project defended against disturbance claims

PUBLISHED: 08:54 12 May 2014 | UPDATED: 09:25 12 May 2014

Mike Page Aerial Photo Library:  Bentwaters.

Mike Page Aerial Photo Library: Bentwaters.

Project leaders behind the “masterplan” for a former Cold War air base in east Suffolk have attempted to allay community concerns about its impact on neighbours and the environment.

The application submitted for the former USAF air base at Bentwaters has provoked fears about the potential for hundreds of flights and aerobatic demonstrations to “totally destroy” the region’s peace and quiet.

Anne Johnstone, a former chairman of Tunstall Parish Council, said the disturbance of flights would “greatly impinge” on wildlife close to the site, which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“I am appalled that the number of properties that will be affected by the noise element of this plan are horrendous,” she added. “People hoping to have a quiet evening or to have the pleasure of sitting in their gardens enjoying decent weather, will have to beat a hasty retreat away from the roar of engines.”

Ms Johnstone was also concerned about the noise from aircraft flying above Snape Maltings Concert Hall and felt too little information had been passed on to the residents.

Steven Bainbridge, of Evolution, agents for the application, has defended against these claims and invited anyone with concerns to contact him directly.

He is keen to point out that although the application submitted for the site is described as a “change of use”, the owners are not seeking to carry out any new activities if it is approved.

“The planning application seeks to regularise the current uses,” he said. “We are not looking to expand on that – just formalise the things that are already in place”.

The site currently employs around 400 people. However its future has been left uncertain during the four years since the application was first submitted.

Mr Bainbridge, says its approval could “draw a line in the sand” and secure the site’s economic future.

The wildlife and noise concerns, he claims, have been addressed by the completion of two environmental impact assessments which revealed no issues.

He has also highlighted the fact that the skies above the site are designated open air space, which means aviators can fly there regardless of the application.

Anyone with concerns is invite to contact Evolution on 01359 233663.

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