Update – March 2015

Although the vote went against us this time (unlike 1998), and permission has been granted for the “flying amendment”, we have gained some significant conditions limiting flying from Bentwaters.

In particular:

- Max 20 flights in any week (apart from airshows)

- Log of activity to be kept

- advice map to pilots to avoid low flying (less than 1500 ft) over protected areas

- no flying after 9pm

Our main concern is aerobatic activity, and we will monitor this, against these conditions. We would welcome comments from supporters at supporters@bentwaterscampaigngroup.org on such activity , and will collate observations , to liaise with the Local Planning Authority

There is, of course, civil and military use of the skies above Bentwaters, not from there. However sightings of the Spitfire or the Pitts-Special bi-planes will have originated there, and be subject to the conditions

 

Please go to the following link for the full SCDC report:  FULL REPORT

See page 65 and 66 (Relevant Extract Below) for full flying recommendations, which includes aircraft weighing up to 15 tonnes (we understand a Spitfire weighs only 2 tonnes unladen)

5.3.  The main theme of this report has been flying from the site, the proposal to allow 480 flights (960 air traffic movements) per year has been judged as suitable for this location and a reasonable expansion of the original proposal as supported by members in principle at the previous committee. Whilst the 480 flights have been seen by some as a significantly detrimental addition to the AONB, it is also acknowledged that there is a balanced level of support in the area for continued and the proposed increase in flying. Throughout the consultation responses there is a perception of fear that this proposal is the ‘thin end of the wedge’ and the precursor to a larger airport use of the site. The proposal does not represent airport scale flying and it would be identifiably different from the plans dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in 1999. There is no reason to refuse such a proposal based on a perception of fear regarding potential its growth. The permission would be conditioned and as such any unauthorised expansion would be enforceable. A further monitoring condition is proposed to require the submission of flight logs covering both aircraft based on the site and those flying into and out of the site. This would allow direct comparison with any disputed flight figures which may be raised in any potential complaints. Should the applicant choose to apply for further flights in the future they would be required to submit a variation of condition application which would enable full consultation and determination on their merits. This objection is therefore of given very limited material planning weight...

5.4. There are acknowledged benefits to the flying of genuine historic aircraft from the site and it is clear that there is local support for the presence of the Spitfire in particular. The applicants view that the additional aircraft are required to support the maintenance of the spitfire is understandable and a reasonable business case. In the interests of economic development on a substantial employment site such as this there is an appreciated benefit of business flying for established and future businesses and these reasons are of merit in favour of the application. The number of flights is considered proportionate and a sufficient provision for these purposes. There are flying activities which are noted to have greater impacts on the local area and which should be avoided on such a site. This includes pilot training and parachuting. These involve greater activity in the immediate area and a concentration of the use which officers consider should be avoided under the current proposal. Specific conditions on flying are now recommended following discussions with the applicant, who has sought independent aviation consultancy advice in forming conditions 1 and 2, as detailed below:

1) Flying at the site (which means taking off and landing) shall be limited to aircraft categorised as:

1. Historic, classic or vintage aircraft,

2. or Piston-engined General Aviation aircraft, or

3. All other aircraft below a maximum take-off weight of 15 tonnes (15,000kgs)

Unless in an emergency, where any aircraft movement shall be notified to the local planning authority within 24 hours of its landing at the site and within 48 hours details
shall be provided to the local planning authority of the timetable for its departure from the site and the arrangements for its storage and supervision before departure.

Reason: for the precise control of the type of aircraft using the site.

Informative note

For the avoidance of doubt in category 1:

· Historic aircraft will have the same meaning as that defined by the European Aviation Safety Agency Historic and Military Aircraft Definition as; non-complex aircraft whose initial design was established before 1 January 1955, and production has been stopped before 1 January 1975 or aircraft having a clear historical relevance, related to a participation in a noteworthy historical event, or a major step in the development of aviation, or a major role played into the armed forces of a member state.

· Classic aircraft will mean aircraft of not less than 25 years old (from date of production) on a rolling annual basis.

· Vintage aircraft will mean aircraft of not less than 40 years old (from date of production) on a rolling annual basis.

In category 2 Piston-engined describes the component of the propulsion system for an aircraft that generates mechanical power.

In category 3 the maximum take-off weight of an aircraft is the maximum weight at which the pilot of the aircraft is allowed to attempt to take off, due to structural or other limits.

2) Operational aircraft at the site shall either:

·  Be kept in a secured hangar when not attended, or
·  Be monitored by the site’s existing 24 hour security if not in a secured hangar and not attendedReason: for the safe and secure operation of aircraft activities.

Informative note

The term ‘operational aircraft’ distinguishes airplanes which are capable of flying from redundant airframes and static displays, like those at the Cold War Museum for instance.

3) No more than 960 aircraft movements a year and no more than 40 aircraft movements a week which are not part of a flying display (air show).

Informative note: An aircraft movement is a take-off or landing by an aircraft. The CAA define ‘flying display’. 960 one-way movements is equivalent to 480 two-way flights.

4) Time of Flying – No take offs or landings between 2100 and 0700 at the site. Except in the cases of emergency as described in this decision notice.

5) Site not to be used as a flying school or parachuting.

6) Maintenance of a flight log for all take offs and landings and a list of operational aircraft which are stored on the site shall be provided to the LPA on an annual basis simultaneously with the building use schedule required under condition x. The flight log shall also be made available at any other time upon formal written request from the Local Planning Authority.

Informative note

The term ‘operational aircraft’ distinguishes airplanes which are capable of flying from redundant airframes and static displays, like those at the Cold War Museum for instance.

7) No aircraft engaged in the business of commercial air freight shall be based on the site nor shall they land at the site for the purposes of commercial air freight.

8) Dates of any flying display to be notified to the Local Planning Authority 6 months in advance of any event taking place.

5.5.  These conditions would go some length to meet the concerns of objectors. The conditions aim to restrict the scale and impacts of the use and all are considered to be;

    •   necessary;
    •   relevant to planning and;
    •   to the development to be permitted;
    •   enforceable;
    •   precise and;
    •   reasonable in all other respects.

5.6.  It is unlikely that the site would be viable for commercial passenger or freight aircraft due to the site not having a commercial flight licence. A significant limitation in this regard is that the runway is not suited to large commercial airplanes landing due to the presence of structures within relatively close vicinity of the runway.

5.7.  Based on the above conclusion, the carefully considered conditions detailed above along with the full range of conditions below the full application, including its 2014 update are considered acceptable and are recommended for approval.

Protests are mounting as understanding grows in the community of the long term implications of flying requests buried in the 550 page Bentwaters Master Plan application - Read our highlighted excerpts on our PLANNING APPLICATION page or the whole application at the SCDC website here: (Ref. C10/3239)

You can read who we are by clicking here

You can read our reasons for concern here

You can read the Statutory Responses from your local council here

Throughout the website you will find information regarding the application and the implications for our area of outstanding natural beauty. As you will see when you keep reading - we are not opposed to some flying. We have genuine concerns about the expansion of the airport and the potential long term impact on the quality of the AONB - Government Policy

Our press page will keep updating with campaign news as it develops. We also have an aeronautical chart showing how Bentwaters is currently classified.

The planning background  page will show you some of the commnunications between those in the decision making seat. The letter to Evolution from the SCDC leaves a number of important questions still to be answered. Link to the letter

Over on our links page are links to relevant pages and also to our leaflet which has information regarding the direct impact on the immediate area.

We invite you to read through our careful sourced information and make a decision to act once you have taken onboard the concerns and implications of the planning application. 

On 31st July 1999, George Mapson, H.M.Govt. Planning Inspector, stated: “the use of the former RAF Bentwaters Base for civil aviation is unacceptable” and ended schemes for an airport there. The talk was of digging up the runways for road aggregate .. .

 

But this photograph - from the Bentwaters Park web site - appears to picture the whole area as a very workable airport. If no civil flying is intended, why is this?

Why we should all be worried!

  • Under general planning law, flying (or any other activity) can take place without formal planning consent for 28 days every year at Bentwaters. This is sufficient to allow existing flying by heritage aircraft to continue as now. BUT the new application requests planning consent for 960 new flights, breaching the 1999 HM Inspectorate ruling that planning consent should specifically not be given to flying at Bentwaters. This new flight limit would become the existing limit, and can be used as a benchmark for later planning applications for increases in flying. THIS IS WHY WE MUST PERSUADE SCDC PLANNERS TO REFUSE TO INCLUDE AVIATION IN THIS PLANNING APPLICATION.

  • The planning application does not define the aircraft permitted or place any controls on flying times, activities (ie aerobatics), or noise levels. Other airfields have planning consents that make such restrictions ie gliders only; another reason to refuse this application!

  • Once an aircraft is in the air, it is literally 'out of control', constrained only by CAA general rules. We already have disturbance from military aircraft (accepted of course) and visiting aircraft (which we can do nothing about). Don't lets create a home-grown additional problem!

  • The National Policy Planning Framework recommendation 123 sets out UK central government guidance on the protection of tranquillity as a quality to be preserved in planning law. The SCDC is being asked by the applicant to ignore this national ruling, and to overturn the 1999 ruling of the H.M.Inspector 

  • Once flying was banned from Bentwaters by H.M. Inspectorate in 1999, many people moved businesses that required the tranquillity of the AONB into the area around Bentwaters (for example, equestrian activity). Any noticeable increase in flying will threaten their livelihoods, and the jobs they create.

  • Air Leasing (the operator of aircraft at Bentwaters) describes itself as operating from a 'farm landing strip', yet Bentwaters markets itself as having 1.3 miles of maintained runway.

  • The application claims to be based on 'regularising existing flights' yet despite repeated requests no flying logs have been made available or records of flying shown. How can we judge this claim if the facts are kept secret? Anecdotal evidence from those living beside the runway suggests there are nothing like 960 take-offs and landings a year. An increase to these new levels could be a shattering experience. 

  • The applicant attempts to side step H.M.Inspector's ruling by claiming a distinction between ‘general aviation' and 'civil aviation'. But the Inspector was of course aware 'general aviation' is but a subdivision in 'civil aviation' when he instructed flying be deleted from the local plan. General aviation covers smaller aircraft operations. After all, small aerobatic aircraft are just about the worst noise polluters, rudely breaching the tranquillity the inspector sought to protect!

It's not about the Spitfire!

Our critics have mischievously suggested we are opposed to flying by the Spitfire from Bentwaters, while Bentwaters' agent Evolution has said the application is largely related to this historic aircraft. Both statements are wrong! 

Bentwaters played a vital part in our war effort. So did the Spitfire. It is appropriate that this iconic aircraft should continue to fly from there. But under regulations covering deferred development rights, flying (or other activities) are allowed from Bentwaters 28 days a year. Based on the number of times the Spitfire has flown in recent seasons, this would seem entirely adequate for this heritage need. Similarly, Bentwaters Parks' two-day air show could be again held under the same rules, and is enjoyed by many.

SO THERE IS NO NEED TO ADD AVIATION TO THE BENTWATERS PLANNING MASTER PLAN, AND CERTAINLY NO NEED TO SANCTION 960 NEW UNCONTROLLED AND UNSPECIFIED FLIGHTS AND SEVEN NEW, MAINLY AEROBATIC AIRCRAFT TO BE KEPT AT BENTWATERS.

In 1999 H.M.Inspectorate recommended flying should not be allowed from Bentwaters, and we understand the airport was sold to private interests with this condition unchanged.

IF THIS RULING IS OVERTURNED, AND FLYING IS INCLUDED IN A FORMAL PLANNING CONSENT, IN THE YEARS AHEAD, PERHAPS UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT OR OWNERSHIP, MORE APPLICATIONS AND MORE FLYING WILL FOLLOW, UNTIL OUR UNIQUE TRANQUILLITY IS FATALY COMPROMISED, AND THE JOBS IT SUPPORTS PLACED UNDER GROWING THREAT.

 

Who we are…

The Bentwaters Campaign Group was formed in 1997 to represent those in the community who opposed a civil airport at Bentwaters.  At its height, the Group had 1600 members, who funded a range of local protest activities. legal action, and information coordination.  Some of you will remember this poster, exposing the exaggerated claims for 'just a few quiet jets' contrasting with the 80.000 movements a year really being applied for.  Sound familiar!  (OK, not on the same scale of course, but one thing can lead to another . . . . .)


Now we have an active membership of over 600 members, and we are regrouping again to ensure the community wish to preserve the AONB is safeguarded.

contact us here