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Suffolk: Petition urges go-ahead for flying at Bentwaters

PUBLISHED: 06:00 25 June 2014

The Grace Spitfire flying over Bentwaters

The Grace Spitfire flying over Bentwaters

Nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition urging planners to permit flying at the former Bentwaters USAF air base

The online petition, which will be sent to Suffolk Coastal when the consultation deadline finishes on July 7, is supporting the Grace Spitfire and other heritage planes which fly from the site.

David Burr, who launched the petition, said: “The 1999 Planning Inspector’s report concerned proposals for a regional airport of some 80,000 movements a year. The Inspector was not against all flying from Bentwaters forever.

“The (current) application proposes a maximum of 480 flights – 960 movements – per year. A take-off and landing is one flight.

“This averages 1.25 flights a day. There is no intention of creating an airport and the numbers confirm this.

“There is already flying in this area of the county by military and civilian pilots. It is common knowledge that since the Americans left in 1993 there has been continuous flying from Bentwaters.”

Kay Nash, Rendlesham Parish Council chairman, said more than 300 letters in support of the Bentwaters planning application had been handed in at the Rendlesham Show, and a further 350 signatures were collected on petition forms to add to those online.

Opponents stress that they are not against the Spitfire flying but fear an increase in flights could set a precedent for further flying development in future and harm the tranquillity of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and ruin one of the main reasons people visit the Suffolk Coastal area.

Steven Bainbridge, of Evolution Town Planning, agents for Bentwaters’ owners, said the website of the Bentwaters Campaign Group (BCG) proclaimed it was “opposed to flying from Bentwaters since 1997”.

He said a five-hour meeting had been held between the owners and Carolyn and Richard Grace from Air Leasing with the BCG to explain the planning application and the structure and function of Air Leasing, which operates the Spitfire, and how that supports the historic aircraft.

Mr Bainbridge said: “Therefore if the BCG truly support the Spitfire, they must know (because we told them) the fact is they must also support Air Leasing Ltd. The two are in fact inextricably linked.”

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