Bentwaters: Campaign group is reactivated to fight flying proposals at former USAF air base
13:39 15 May 2014
Extra time is to be given for people to comment on a new masterplan for the former Bentwaters military air base amid growing concern that there could be more flying from the site in future.
The Bentwaters Campaign Group (BCG) has been reactivated to fight the proposals, saying an increase in aircraft noise would have a huge impact on the tranquillity of the coasts and heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The masterplan for the 380-hectare former USAF base has been submitted to Suffolk Coastal by the site’s owners and aims to formalise its current and future use, and traffic movements.
Included are proposals for 960 air movements a year, the housing of seven aerobatic aircraft, plus an airshow and additional business flights.
BCG leader Mike Sherwen said: “Once flying is permitted in planning law it becomes impossible to control the aircraft.”
He said any aircraft could be allowed, at any time of day or night, to fly anywhere permitted by the CAA, with no control over noise.
The application stipulates seven aerobatic aircraft can be kept at Bentwaters, leading to fears that initially the majority of flights will be aerobatic aircraft, which BCG says are “the most persistent noise creators, flown mainly on the sunniest days in the best of the weather” when people are enjoying their gardens and the countryside.
Mr Sherwen said: “This is not about the Spitfire that flies from Bentwaters, it’s about the long-term implications.
“Once planning for flying is granted, it can’t be taken away.
“Over the years ahead, we could face a permanent, growing aircraft industry at Bentwaters, and the insidious degradation of our currently tranquil environment, and the jobs it supports.”
Plans for a major civil airport at Bentwaters were defeated in 1999, and HM Inspectorate said civil aviation would not be allowed.
Suffolk Coastal council has extended the public consultation period to mid June.
Steven Bainbridge, of Evolution, agents for the application, said although the application 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”.
Anyone with concerns is invite to contact Evolution on 01359 233663.