Flightpath threat to racehorse breeding

THE home of British racing could lose its breeding industry if aircraft are stacked over the skies of west Suffolk, it has been claimed.

Laurence Cawley

THE home of British racing could lose its breeding industry if aircraft are stacked over the skies of west Suffolk, it was claimed last night.

Proposed changes to air traffic routes over Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have been unveiled by NATS and include the creation of three new “holds” - one for Luton and two for Stansted.

But one of these holds is just south of Newmarket and breeders in the town, the historic home of horseracing, fear persistent noise would affect both animals and staff and prompt horse owners to take their animals elsewhere.

The warning comes just days after hundreds of residents from the Lavenham area turned out to voice their concerns about the proposals.

A leading barrister has been appointed to represent a consortium of those in the horse industry in Newmarket.

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Alastair Watson, chairman of the Newmarket Stud Farmers Association, said: “Continuous background noise is the concern. Far more people would be working out in the air here than pretty much anywhere else in East Anglia. The horseracing industry is a very moveable and international population. We feel that it is enough of a concern to make a submission to NATS.”

Nigel Wright, stud operations manager at The National Stud, said: “We are extremely concerned. Newmarket has breeding and training facilities for between 2,000 and 3,000 horses. If owners are put off they can take them elsewhere.”

South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice said: “No one should underestimate the importance of the racing industry to Newmarket in terms of jobs, taxes and local businesses.

“The fact that NATS have not even bothered to consult East Cambridgeshire District Council shows they have made no real study of the area or of the impact of their proposals.”

But a spokeswoman for NATS said: “NATS is consulting widely on these proposed changes to airspace and receiving a wide range of feedback which will be taken into account in finalising the proposal we put forward for consideration by the Civil Aviation Authority.

“East Cambridgeshire District Council and James Paice MP are amongst primary consultees; both have received full copies of the consultation documentation and both have been offered meetings with NATS to discuss local implications and to have specific queries answered.”

Under NATS' proposals, the Luton hold would be to the west of Cambridge and the two Stansted holds would be between Ipswich and Stowmarket and to the south of Newmarket.

It would mean aircraft heading to land at either airport would route towards these holds. The consultation period closes on May 22.

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