Bentwaters: Flying at old military air base has split communities across east Suffolk

Carolyn Grace talking to pupils from Rendlesham Primary School during a trip to the airfield at Bentwaters to see the Grace Spitfire. Carolyn Grace talking to pupils from Rendlesham Primary School during a trip to the airfield at Bentwaters to see the Grace Spitfire.

Friday, June 20, 2014
9:59 AM

Arguments over whether flying should be permitted at a former Suffolk air base have intensified with community leaders closest to the site backing aviation use.

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Rendlesham Parish Council has confirmed its support for a new blueprint for the Bentwaters site – saying it will bring new jobs to the area, and extra public amenities.

But the application, which seeks consent for the use of nearly 200 buildings as well as 960 air movements a year, has split communities across east Suffolk.

So far Suffolk Coastal council has received 400 letters about the plan – 66% of them against flying from the former USAF Cold War base.

Rendlesham Parish Council chairman Kay Nash said the blueprint was seeking to regularise the activities at the former base, which already include use by heritage aircraft, including the Grace Spitfire, and occasional business flights.

She said: “The application supports local employment and will make provision for a new bridleway which will provide pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders with better access to the forest.

“We also fully support the level of flying being proposed.

“As with any activity there will always be the one or two people that have differing views but the Spitfire and the other heritage planes that are housed at Bentwaters are considered an important part of our heritage, even more so now as we recall the recent D Day commemorations to remind us what a critical part the Grace Spitfire played during the D Day landings.

“We strongly believe that every effort should be made to support the dedicated people that maintain these planes as part of our history.”

Bromeswell Parish Council has called for a “clear and robust flight recording and monitoring system” to be established with quarterly figures published, and a clear statement from Suffolk Coastal council that it would not tolerate any further increase in flying.

Opponents believe extra flying will destroy the tranquillity of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, harm wildlife, and ruin one of the main reasons people visit the Suffolk Coastal area.

They believe permitting an agreed level of flying sets a precedent and is the thin end of the wedge, opening the door for the creation of a civil airport.

Eyke Parish Council is calling for the blueprint to be rejected and wants flying treated as a separate application.

The council said: “What is being proposed will have a major impact which will irrevocably change the tranquillity of the area forever. The permission to fly in principle will make it easier to increase greatly flying levels in future, with, or without, necessary planning applications.”

Alderton Parish Council and Chillesford Parish Meeting have also both objected.

Campaigners also feel the Spitfire could accomplish its flying within the deferred development rights which allowed flying from Bentwaters 28 days a year.

18 comments

  • We are rapidly being defined as a nation by what we are against rather than what we are for. For once, let us support something that will bring positive outcomes - employment, interesting activity, heritage flying and maintenance, aerial spectacle and sounds rather than grim housing and jobless silence. Lets support the airfield and face down the detractors - after all, we have paid for the facility already!

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    markjnorris

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • Well, do any of the complainers fly to destinations abroad from other airports, if so, then its ok for other people to put up with the noise when you fly, you get used to it, I grew up locally and I have helicopters and large aircraft fly over my house every day, and it doesn't bother me, they are doing a job. The Spitfire was so important and should be admired by all, had we not have succeeded in Ww2 we might not be here today.

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    Paul Edwards

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I was a supporter of the original cargo airport plans when the USAF moved out. I and many other local people want to work, and that would have helped. Instead a few people shouted very loudly, got a few celeb's involved (one of which is still very active in the oppose everything brigade as mentioned in yesterday's EADT) and it looks tobe happening all over again! What these NIMBY's fail to realise is that the Grace Spitfire doesn't run itself, it needs quite considerable funding. This is provided in a large part from servicing of other aircraft. So to say that the Bentwaters Campaign Group are not trying to stop the Spitfire is wholly misleading and they should be ashamed for deliberately trying to ground one of the few flying memorials to our 'brave young men' of the RAF.

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    Dean

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • What's this about use of 200 buildings? Seems ridiculous! So when the base was open there was zero wildlife in the area? I don't think so. What annoys me on this issue is that a lot of misinformation is being banded about by certain parish councillors to their own ends via websites and Facebook that have no allowances for other views to be recorded. Well they did have, but were taken down when people recorded opinions they didn't like. Not so even handed there...

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    Chris Balmer

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • No problem with all the noisy army helicopters across the road at RAF Woodbridge then?

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    amsterdam81

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Citizen, Don't you understand that the USAF have already said Lakenheath is to remain open? It's a shame that general flying was stopped when the base closed. It shows that decisions are still taken in this country to suit the great and the good rather than being based on good sense.

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    amsterdam81

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • The flight movements asked for are very small, one to two light aircraft a day it works out at. Is this really going to spoil the the entire peace of the area ?, i think not as more noise is produced by road traffic. Just look at Snape Maltings when they hold a concert, the amount of cars going through local villages to get there is spoiling the AONB. What twaddle to say that if this is approved it will lead to a full blown airport, its like me applying for planning permission for a new driveway and saying 'you can't have that, next thing it will turn into a motorway'

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    milkyway

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Shame on you Citizen. You appear to want to live in a sterile world devoid of heritage and forget all that this country once stood for. Perhaps we should close all museums as well. I take you will be happy if the (green) stealthy and whisperlike spaceships return.

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    dinosaur detective

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • And as for reopening it as an airfield, talk to the USAF, perhaps they will also decide to keep Lakenheath open to make sure no-one misses the sound of the jets there, no more cold war... no need for airfields.... helloooo folks!!!

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    Citizen

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Heritage... past....history....late 70s.... have you heard yourselves? It's 2014, there are better things to do with money other than satisfy the whims of some people who want to fly 80 year old planes. And if someone has bought a house, pays their rates and is a good citizen it doesn't matter if they "moved up from London", they have the rights of every other resident.

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    Citizen

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • The complainers seem to be outsiders that have moved into the area since the base closed and should not be given any say. I lived very close to the base when I grew up never had any issues. With planes fly over regularly, you soon got use to it. I'm in full support of Bentwaters to be returned into some form of a fully functional airport, that will also create jobs for locals.

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    amigo

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Some people don't know they are born!lShould have been around in the late seventies with F4 Phantoms taking off on full reheat! Now there was a noise to behold,of course most of the"up from London brigade" didn't know or really care where Suffolk was in those days..

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    mjf

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • We are very lucky to have a spitfire in our sky's a huge part of our heritage. We still had wildlife and a gorgeous area even with the phantoms and A10 s flying as does Thetford forest and area with Lakenheath and Mildenhall F16 flying. Nature will not be disturbed. We also need local employment in that area. Supporters must write to the council.

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    Sanmax

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Its an airfield with a runway. Its not like its never been used for flying! It is a part of our heritage.

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    David C

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Once again its the minority who are shouting the loudest. Bentwaters should have been an airport from the moment the Americans closed it down. To use noise as an excuse to prevent additional flying is a load of rubbish as the rate of climb of these aircraft is such that when it goes over the villages that are campaigning against additional flight they are to high to cause a noise problem. The council should endorse this application for all the reasons stated

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    thundercat

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Bentwaters was in existence as a military airfield from 1943 to 1993, with some intensive flying in that 50 year span. It certainly wasn't "tranquil" when the USAF jets were flying from there, although it was as beautiful then as now (apart from the hideous new housing developments everywhere), and the wildlife were pretty used to the din. The limited flying of vintage and quiet, modern small civilian aircraft seems to me to be a good use of part of an historic airfield; and, provided the people responsible (presumably Suffolk Coastal et al) set and strictly enforce the necessary conditions, it is unlikely it will turn into a civil airport.

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    T Doff

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Let's have Bentwaters back and active again. The birds won't mind. Nor will the hedgehogs, nor the badgers. Let's have some life back into this moribund area. East Suffolk is rapidly becoming one large old people's home, criss-crossed daily by small cars carrying carers from one piece of ancient humanity to another. Start thinking, you nimby folk. It is you that are changing this area for the worse.

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    Rita WAG

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I don't think it's fair to say it's split the community at all. Its seems to me like it's at least 99.99% in favour of continued spitfire flights and literally maybe a handful of people opposed to it.

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    Tamara Knight

    Friday, June 20, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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