Woodbridge: Owners of Bentwaters military base insist it will not be used as civil airport

Bentwaters - by Mike Page

Bentwaters - by Mike Page

Owners of the former Bentwaters military air base have denied flying will greatly increase if a new blueprint for the site is agreed – and say it will not become an airport.

Bentwaters Parks says the seven heritage planes which do aerobatic displays, plus Carolyn Grace’s Spitfire, and a small number of light aircraft used by businessmen will continue to take off and land as at present.

However, the Bentwaters Campaign Group fears that the application will mean an increase in aircraft – leading to more noise – and that would have a huge impact on the tranquillity of the coasts and heaths area of outstanding natural beauty.

Planning consultant Steven Bainbridge, of Evolution Town Planning, for Bentwaters Parks, said there were no plans to increase the number of flights, which would be restricted by planning permission to an average of less than two flights per day.

He said: “People talk about this as being the thin end of the wedge and are worried about it getting larger, but that is bonkers – less than two flights a day is not a money-making exercise that would attract someone to spend billions of pounds creating a civilian airport.”

He said the Planning Inspectorate had ruled the site was not suitable for an airport.

He added: “If you read the inspectorate letter it says the site is unacceptable for a civil airport – that was the issue they were being asked to address.

“They do not say there can be no flying.”

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Mr Bainbridge said the heritage planes were operated by the same company to finance the care of the Spitfire and allow it to carry on performing at displays.

He said: “The planes at the site take off, fly off to wherever they might be performing a display – other parts of the region – and then return later.

“When people have spoken of planes doing aerobatics in the sky above the area, it is other planes attracted here because of Bentwaters.”

Mr Bainbridge said the proposals for 960 air movements a year was a small part of the overall proposals for the 380-hectare former base, with the main issue being consent for uses for the majority of its near-200 buildings.

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