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Bentwaters: RSPB hopes to resolve concerns over air base flying impact on birds

PUBLISHED: 10:10 08 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:10 08 August 2014

Archant

Leaders of one of Britain’s biggest wildlife organisations say they are hoping to be able to resolve their concerns about proposals that could increase flying at the former Bentwaters air base.

The RSPB has not objected to the principle of aviation at the former USAF base and says not all flying causes harm to birds.

However, the society has expressed “significant concerns” in its submission to Suffolk Coastal on the blueprint for the future of the 380-hectare site, but is hoping these can be addressed before the application comes before councillors.

RSPB conservation officer Jacqui Miller said: “Our objection was on the grounds that the applicants had not provided sufficient information to fully assess the impacts of proposed flight activity on birds at designated nature conservation sites.

“This information would enable any potentially significant impacts on birds to be identified, and therefore ensure that measures can be put in place to avoid or reduce any predicted impacts.

“Bentwaters is very close to some of the Suffolk coast’s internationally important nature conservation sites, which support bird species that can be very sensitive to aircraft disturbance.

“Flying does not always result in harm to birds, however, some flights (even occasional flights) do cause disturbance, due to factors including the type of aircraft, their altitude and how long the flight is in the vicinity of sensitive species.

“We have also raised our concerns through regular correspondence with the relevant parties with the aim of resolving these outstanding issues with the application.”

Bentwaters Parks and Stansall Properties Ltd are seeking permission for 960 air movements a year – fewer than two flights a day – for a Spitfire, heritage aerobatic aircraft, some business flights, and an annual air show.

The applicants say the aim is to regularise flying and not to greatly increase the number of flights.

Planning consultant Steven Bainbridge, of Evolution Town Planning, for Bentwaters Parks, said noise assessments submitted to Suffolk Coastal were based on worst-case scenarios and not actual flying that would take place.

The applicants firmly believe their proposals sit against an established background of wider aviation activity in the area and will have no significant adverse impact on tranquillity.

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