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Officials give go-ahead to increase flights at former US airbase Bentwaters

PUBLISHED: 19:40 13 November 2014 | UPDATED: 19:40 13 November 2014

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EADT Mike Page Aerial Photo Library Bentwaters PICTURE COPYRIGHT MIKE PAGE - PICTURES AVAILABLE THROUGH ARCHANT SUFFOLK PHOTOSALES WITH A DONATION TO CHARITY AS AGREED PICTURES RECEIVED - MARCH 2009 EADT 6.6.09

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Proposals to increase flying at a former military airbase have been given the green-light by officials.

Following a Suffolk Coastal District council chamber meeting, councillors approved plans to increase flights at the former US airbase Bentwaters, near Woodbridge.

Councillors unanimously agreed to give the proposals the go-ahead, which have been subject to fierce debate, splitting communities in east Suffolk.

Flights at the former base will be limited to historic, classic or vintage aircraft, or piston-engined general aviation planes, or other aircraft below a maximum take-off weight of 15 tonnes.

No more than 960 aircraft movements a year will be permitted – and no more than 40 a week, with no flying between 9pm and 7am.

The number of air traffic movements green-lighted is less than 2% of the air traffic movement considered and refused in 1999 by a government-appointed inspector when Suffolk Coastal proposed an airport on the site.

All pilots using the runway at the 964-acre site will be supplied with a navigation chart, highlighting special protection areas and advising the avoidance of low flying over wildlife areas, and a full log will be kept of all aircraft movements.

During the discussion, which included parish council representation as well as that from local societies, councillor Andy Smith said the base was a “fantastic resource”, and as a business point had a unique selling point that there would be access available by small aircraft.

He added: “There is a tremendous opportunity to bring the highest level of employment with very little impact on Suffolk.”

Christopher Hudson, also a councillors, added: “This is the future, this is progress, and this is change.

“What damage would accrue if we said no? How much money would disappear? How many jobs would disappear?”

Councillor Stephen Burroughes added: “It’s a cracking good use of a former airbase.

“It’s a good way to support our agenda for jobs and growth.”

However councillor Tony Fryatt had concerns about the environment, saying: “It does come at a cost. People outside will suffer.

“My concern is not whether we should do it but have we got the right conditions which I think we have.”

Debbie McCallum, who was chairing the meeting, said the site would offer more to young people, and keep them in the district.

Following the decision, planning consultant Steven Bainbridge, of Evolution Town Planning, for Bentwaters Parks, said: “It’s a relief for the local community, there has been overwhelming support.

“It’s a relief for everyone, it’s taken too long to get to this point.

“It’s eyes to the future and eyes to the sky.”

7 comments

  • Very good news, but why so few flights? What a fiasco making such a small use of a rare and potentially valuable local facility which could be put to so much more use for the benefit of the local economy and its people.

    Report this comment

    Iceman2000

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • @thundercat - I was at the 6 hour long meeting. The annual air show will not count towards the flying cap, and hasn't been restricted to what is in the show. Could be anything and how many take offs the base likes subject to Council approval.

    Report this comment

    Luk38644 .

    Friday, November 14, 2014

  • Common sense prevails, people move into the area with the sole purpose of telling those who are born & bred there how they should live their lives, if you don't like it go back to their origins.

    Report this comment

    Bing B

    Friday, November 14, 2014

  • Started my day off with a smile, thank goodness the Council are forward thinking and that the NIMBYs have been kicked where it hurts. I now await with great anticipation the return of the annual air show, although with the low number of flights permitted each day this may not happen. Hopefully the council will give the nod on this.

    Report this comment

    thundercat

    Friday, November 14, 2014

  • Hallelujah! Sense prevails - It's been a long time coming, but it's prevailed! Take that Mr Sherwen and the BCG!

    Report this comment

    Luk38644 .

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

  • Glad all the lies spread by the BCG have bit them on the behind, i'm just waiting until the main objectors want to put planning permission in for something in the future and they will reap what they sowed.

    Report this comment

    milkyway

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

  • Good news ! Glad the newbies to the area didn't get there wish to shut the base down

    Report this comment

    Steve Cotterell

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

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

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