Flights to be capped at rural airfield

AN appeal will be lodged against a decision to impose a limit on the number of flights at a rural Suffolk airfield.Suffolk Coastal District Council announced yesterday it had given permission for a limited area of land at Cherry Tree Farm, Monewden, near Framlingham, to be used as a 500metre long grass airstrip.

By Richard Smith

AN appeal will be lodged against a decision to impose a limit on the number of flights at a rural Suffolk airfield.

Suffolk Coastal District Council announced yesterday it had given permission for a limited area of land at Cherry Tree Farm, Monewden, near Framlingham, to be used as a 500metre long grass airstrip.

It said a maximum of five single-engine fixed wing aircraft could be in use or stored at the site and the number of flying movements annually - defined as landings or take-offs - was to be capped at 400.


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Residents had complained that the level of flying suddenly escalated two years ago when Horizon Flying Club started using the airfield.

The council warned earlier this year it wanted to take action over the number of flights but any action was deferred when the airfield owners applied for a Certificate of Lawful Development for the land.

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The certificate has now been granted, but with conditions including capping the number of flights.

But Michael Wright, a round-the-world pilot whose father John Wright owns Cherry Tree Farm, warned that the conditions were unacceptable.

He will also appeal against a council decision to take out enforcement action for the use of land bought 10 years ago from nearby Rookery Farm as an extension to the airfield.

Mr Wright said: “I know from records that from 1973 to '76 there were about 2,500 flights a year, but I do not have records until 2004.

“It is running at about 2,500 at the moment and even if Horizon Flying Club were not here, the council's figure is not enough.

“I would like the appeal to be heard as soon as possible, but the earliest is 12 months and in the meantime we can continue as we are. There will almost certainly be a public inquiry.”

He added: “People have worked themselves up into a bit of a lather around here but if you want to learn to fly the nearest other places are at Beccles, Clacton and Cambridge.”

Glenn Read, 58, of Ashbocking, is a timber importer who used the airfield yesterday to make a business trip.

Mr Read said: “The flying issues have been blown out of proportion. The pilots who fly from here are all very aware of noise and disruption and have always been very careful to avoid over flying the local villages.”

Caroline Saxby, of Monewden Action Group, said: “The certificate restricts the number of movements to a lot less than they are doing at the moment and this is quite pleasing.

“Hopefully, the usage will go back to what it was before when there was some recreational flying.

“It was the introduction of Horizon Flying Club that was the problem.

“We were not quite sure how the council would view the situation and I imagine there will be an appeal, so I do not think this is over yet.”

A council spokesman said: “This certificate does not authorise any use which involves the hangarage, take-off or landing of gliders, hang-gliders, microlights, helicopters, multi-engined aircraft, jet-propelled aircraft, hot air balloons or dirigibles, or large model aircraft.

“We concluded, on looking at all the available evidence, that the aerodrome had been in regular and frequent use for at least 10 years, and the certificate confirms what is the lawful amount of use at the airfield.

“Any flying in excess of the certificate may result in the council taking enforcement action.”

The applicant can put in a new application for approval of a greater level of flying activity and this would be subject to public consultation.

The flying club has been unavailable for comment. It has maintained that flight movements were not excessive, that complaints about noise were exaggerated and “over-flights” were made by pilots from other airfields.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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