Great Oakley: Airfield expansion plans move a step closer
09:29 27 November 2012
CONTROVERSIAL plans for the expansion of an airfield in Essex have been recommended for approval.
The owner of Great Oakley Airfield submitted two retrospective planning applications to Tendring District Council (TDC) to allow flying training and helicopters to operate from the site.
The move followed a complaint from district councillor for Great and Little Oakley Tom Howard, who said the owner was in breach of planning regulation.
Under current rules, up to 30 flight movements a day are permitted but it does not grant flight training or helicopter usage.
However, last year, Skyward Flight Training opened offering one-off lessons and Private Pilot Licence (PPL) training.
Airfield owner Tim Spurge said he was also seeking permission for helicopter usage because it would benefit offshore wind farms in Harwich when executives visit the site.
The move has prompted 100 letters of objection from some local residents who say the planes cause nuisance noise.
But the council has also received letters of support from pilots and other residents.
On Saturday, officers at TDC released a report recommending the applications be approved by councillors at the next planning meeting.
The report states that the noise impact resulting from the proposals would be low and not “significant.” It also says that any earlier breaches of planning regulations would not be sufficient reason to refuse the applications.
However, a number of conditions have been set-out, including no take-offs or landings between 9pm and 8.30am, no circuit training on Sundays and public holidays, while all flights must be logged to monitor movements.
The current limits on flight movements would also remain with no more than 30 take-off movements in a day and no more than 3,650 take-off movements in a year.
Officers also say allowing helicopter usage will help to support business and provide a landing area for refuelling for the police helicopter and air ambulance.
Great Oakley resident Dawn Stevens, who opposes the applications, said: “I am very disappointed. When it comes to the helicopter application, there are already facilities at Harwich should business people and the offshore maintenance people need to use it.
“A local doctor’s surgery, which serves about 3,000 people, has also objected because of the noise but the council does not seem to have taken that into consideration.”
Mr Howard said: “It’s not a good start but the door is still open.”
Both Mr Howard and Ms Stevens said they would be speaking against the applications at the meeting on December 4.
Airfield owner Tim Spurge reacted with caution. He said: “We still have to wait for the planning committee to make their decision so we’ll see how it goes on the night.”