Fears over military helicopter noise

By John HowardTHE introduction of the £25million Apache gunship helicopters to Suffolk will mean more night flying as troops prepare for combat operations.

By John Howard

THE introduction of the £25million Apache gunship helicopters to Suffolk will mean more night flying as troops prepare for combat operations.

They have started arriving at Wattisham Airfield, near Needham Market, which is planned to have 32 of the attack helicopters to replace its Lynx and Gazelle helicopters.

Four Apaches have so far arrived at the Suffolk base as they are gradually phased in and crews trained.


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The military has already given assurances to Mid Suffolk District Council's environmental policy panel that there will be no firing or electronic warfare activities at or near Wattisham Airfield.

However, there may be training exercises mounted in remoter parts of rural Mid Suffolk and a Wattisham Airfield spokesman said the Apache would be involved in more night flying in preparation for combat operations.

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“The introduction of attack helicopters is a quantum leap in the standards of army aviation. Wattisham is now absolutely secure for the next 30 years,” he added.

“The night flying is likely to be slightly longer hours and the aircraft have a different sound, although it is felt at this stage that this will be as intrusive as that of the Lynx.”

The spokesman said simulators would be used more extensively than they were currently and the military was aware of its duty of care to the environment where troops lived and worked.

Andrew Stringer, a Green district councillor who serves on the environmental panel, has been calling for more information from the military to ensure residents' quality of life was protected.

He said: “We need far more information from the military than we have been given. We deserve the right to be told.

“The Apache has phenomenal floodlighting and we need to know if this will be in use. They say there are longer hours, but they are less intrusive.

“I cannot quite see how that works. It's very difficult to know if they will be less intrusive without facts and figures.”

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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