The letter below from Steve Milligan, senior planning officer of SCDC planning services, was written in response to the initial application made on behalf of Bentwaters Parks by their agents Evolution. It underlines many of the SCDC concerns as it wrestles with the difficulty of controlling flying with in a planning framework (a position BCG believes to be impossible!). Read against the revised application, it is noticeable how many of Mr Milligan's concerns have not been properly or fully addressed. Please help support the SCDC in your letter to the council, expressing your concerns as to what ruling can be made that would prevent flying or the growth of flying at Bentwaters, particularly in the longer view (for example, if the airport should change ownership).
|Mr Steven Bainbridge|
Evolution Town Planning
Elm Farm Park
Bury St Edmunds
Please ask for:Mr S Milligan
12th June 2013
Dear Mr Bainbridge
THE TOWN & COUNTRY PLANNING (ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT) (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2011 : REGULATION 13 REQUEST FOR SCOPING OPINION.
FLYING ACTIVITY, BENTWATERS PARK, RENDLESHAM.
I write in response to your letter and attachments of 26th November 2012 and subsequent correspondence and must apologise for the delay in the Council’s reply on this issue.
Since your letter of 15th February 2013, the Environment Agency have written (28th March) to confirm that the issues raised within their response to the scoping request can be appropriately addressed through the production of a ‘site management/environmental management plan’ which could be the subject of a condition of an approval of C10/3239.
In both your e-mail of 7th December 2012 and your letter of 15th February, you appear to be suggesting that the amendments to the building use schedule and clarification of the (proposed) level of flying activity do not need to be included into the scope of the existing EIA; however I believe that it must be and under the terms of Para 22, Part 5 of the Town and Country Planning (EIA) regulations 2011, be the subject of further publicity/consultation. C10/3239 was subject to EIA and the subsequent amendment proposed and submission of ‘further information’ falls under this section of the 2011 Regulations.
In relation to the detail/level of information submitted, I had previously suggested that information should be provided in respect of intensification of flying activity and impact upon tranquillity, and still consider that these remain areas that should be covered, given the condition you have so far advocated would in no way control the number, size or type of aircraft or hours of use; with potentially significant impact upon residential and rural amenity/tranquillity. The Sharps report is clearly based on there being no significant change in the number of flights or type of aircraft. It does not consider the impact upon tranquillity within the wider AONB. Whilst part of Para 123 of the NPPF is quoted in relation to impact upon ‘health and the quality of life’; the same part of the NPPF states that decisions should aim to ‘identify and protect areas of tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason.’ The Suffolk Coasts and Heaths AONB is one such area, with the ‘Suffolk Coasts and Heaths Management Plan’ stating that the area is ‘prized for a feeling of peace and tranquillity and for its outstanding wildlife’ and that ‘future development within the AONB must recognise the essential value of tranquillity and build in solutions that respect this special quality.’
The EIA Circular 02/99 states in relation to ‘Information to be Included in an Environmental Statement’
(amongst other matters):
- An outline of the main alternatives studied by the applicant or appellant and an indication of the main reasons for his choice, taking into account the environmental effects.
- A description of the aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the development, including, in particular, population, fauna, flora, soil, water, air, climatic factors, material assets, including the architectural and archaeological heritage, landscape and the interrelationship between the above factors.
- A description of the likely significant effects of the development on the environment, which should cover the direct effects and any indirect, secondary, cumulative, short, medium and long-term, permanent and temporary, positive and negative effects of the development, resulting from:
a. the existence of the development;
b. the use of natural resources;
c. the emission of pollutants, the creation of nuisances and the elimination of waste,
and the description by the applicant of the forecasting methods used to assess the effects on
- A description of the measures envisaged to prevent, reduce and where possible offset any significant adverse effects on the environment.
This gives rise to the following questions which should be addressed:
- Why do the 8 display aircraft (and Spitfire) need to be based in this location?
- What will be the impact upon tranquillity and ecology?
- What measures (conditions?) will prevent /reduce impact on tranquillity?
I must state at this stage my disappointment with the inclusion of this amendment late in the consideration of C10/3239, given you state that the aircraft housed in building 669 ’have been operating from the site for approximately 4 years’; which pre-dates the submission of C10/3239 and the EIA, which made reference to only a single spitfire flying from the site. The position of the Council to defer enforcement action in 2009 to allow your client to prepare and submit an application for authorisation of activities at the site, was taken in good faith and I believed that the information and use schedule you submitted with C10/3239 was comprehensive and correct. For this to be shown otherwise is clearly disappointing.
If you intend to formally submit the ‘amendment’ you would be advised to submit evidence in respect of the level of flying activity undertaken in the last few years, including flight logs; as well as address the points raised within this letter.
As you are aware the matter of flying from the site has been the subject of ‘local interest’ and whilst it has not yet been the subject of public consultation by this authority, a number of bodies have expressed interest including Eyke and Melton Parish Council; The National Trust and the RSPB. The RSPB have commented in writing (objected) and have requested an assessment of impact of flying upon ornithological interest within the site and adjacent/nearby Designated Habitat. I attach a copy of the letter received from the RSPB.
As you are aware, I have been concerned at the cost implications to this Council of further public consultation and for any more publicity/consultation to be undertaken only one more time. As stated above, there is a need to consult on the ‘amendment’ and the further changes to the proposed rights of way; but clearly I do not wish to undertake this if further information is to be forthcoming in respect of the above matters and any further information submitted in respect of the RSPB comments. I would also like assurance that there will be no more ‘amendments’ necessitating consultation (unless this is as a result of a request from this Authority). As it stands, the ‘amendments’ have not, I believe, been formally submitted for consideration, but were submitted for ‘scoping’. Please clarify/confirm whether you (your clients) wish for these to be formally submitted as an amendment to C10/3239 and whether you will be preparing the further information to cover the above matters and those of the RSPB.
Given the support of members of the DCC to limited ‘incidental’ business flying only and the desirability of a favourable outcome to application C10/3239, I would suggest that your client seriously re-considers the ‘proposed’ use of building 669 and its use by 8 display/aerobatic aircraft, as I believe this goes beyond the level of flying activity envisaged by members during the DCC meeting in September and may well (if formally submitted and publicised) give rise to significant local concern over the impact upon the tranquillity of the AONB.
Head of Planning Services
Stour and Orwell Society appears at the Stansted G1 Inquiry
|The Society's Honorary Treasurer, Stephen M Clark, presented the following submission to the planning inspectors appointed by the Government to consider Uttlesford District Council's refusal of BAA application to increase flights by 170 per day increasing the use of Stansted from 25 million to 35 million passengers a year.|
|The submission was made into week 10 of the inquiry held at Sudbury Town Hall on Tuesday 4th september 2007.|
|1. The Stour and Orwell Society|
The Society was formed to protect and enhance a peninsula of land bounded by the estuaries of the River Stour and River Orwell in south Suffolk. The area is known as the Stour and Orwell Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and together with the adjacent Special Project Area forms part of the Suffolk Coast and Heath Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is located adjacent to the Dedham Vale AONB. The area has significant statutory recognition as follows;
a) As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) it forms part of only four designated AONB’s in the six counties of the Eastern Region (see map 1).
b) The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance was signed in Ramsar, Iran as an inter-government treaty for the conservation and protection of bird life. This covers both estuaries and as such provides an international designation protecting internationally renowned wildlife and wetland areas. As well as an international designation, the salt marsh fringed estuaries contain some of Britain’s most important wildlife areas.
c) The area contains above average sites of Special Scientific Interest, conservation areas, ancient woodland, listed buildings and historic parkland.
The Society, with over 200 members, was formed to protect and enhance the natural assets of our area, but there has been a groundswell of outrage relating to the over-flying of the peninsular by air traffic, routed in and out of Stansted and Luton airports, which never existed before March 2004.
|2. Stour and Orwell AONB Characteristics|
|The AONB presents an unchanged sense of the English Countryside which it is designed to protect and enhance.” (Ref: Natural England). The area is characterised by reed beds, salt marsh and mudflats of the Stour and Orwell estuaries which, together with a rich mixture of undulating and vulnerable lowland landscapes, make the area unique.|
The area provides for quiet recreation with the rural economy based on both agriculture and tourism. The quiet recreation is not only enjoyed by residents but also by many UK and International visitors who come to enjoy bird watching, walking, cycling, angling with sailing and boating pursuits available on the estuaries and inland at Alton Water Reservoir.
The rural tranquillity enjoyed by residents and visitors alike up to March 2004 was significantly valued. In the Rural White Paper 2000 the Government recognised the contribution of tranquillity to the character of the countryside. So concerned at the increased disturbance, members of the Society asked Douglas Sharps to make an assessment of our own tranquillity. Mr Sharps runs one of the largest acoustic consultancies in the UK, known as the Sharps Redmore Partnership and lives on the peninsula. He has given evidence at over 300 planning enquiries into nuisance involving noise, most often related to noise from aviation.
He carried out noise tests within the AONB, his findings showed that the background noise was frequently at 35 dB and that only the sound of whispering grass was audible on his acoustic recording apparatus. Over-flying aircraft noise was recorded at 60 dB which he described as a medium frequency rumble or roar with sometimes a crackle from certain aircraft types. One of the chief characteristics of this noise, that he noted, was the unrelenting nature of the noise which, on several occasions, he found to be continuous or almost continuous due to the number of flyover events but also due to the low background noise, meaning the aircraft could be heard from long distances and at high altitudes.
|3. Current levels of over-flying of the Stour and Orwell Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty|
Up until the change of routing introduced by NATS in March 2004, the tranquillity of the area was not undermined by aircraft noise.
The change to the airspace in March 2004 by NATS was to relieve heavy traffic on the Clacton Beacon (see map 2 based on Stansted flight data, 3rd August 2003 before the change) and to reduce the effects on the western area of the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Indeed, Suffolk County Council’s response to NATS consultation on the new routes, dated 27th June 2003, was “The emphasis placed on reducing noise disturbance on the Dedham Vale AONB in framing these proposals is welcomed. The routing of the majority of flights inbound to Stansted and Luton from continental Europe to the north of Ipswich rather than to the south via the Clacton Beacon should significantly reduce the over-flying of the Vale”.
In March 2004 a new entry route into Stansted (see map 3 based on Stansted flight data, 15th August 2004 after the change) was from IDESI to the LAPRA way point, north of Ipswich. However, the vast majority of flights were ignoring the new route and were being directed into Stansted and Luton airports over the Stour and Orwell AONB and Dedham Vale AONB.
Quite clearly something had seriously gone wrong with the new flight paths since they were having environmental consequences that were never predicted or consulted upon by NATS. Whilst NATS had designed the route north of Ipswich to IDESI, a route approved by the Secretary of State, unfortunately it transpired that the air traffic controllers were not bound by the statutory protection of areas on the ground.
The Dedham Vale Society appealed to the High Court over the fact that 90% of the traffic was going over the Dedham Vale (and over the Stour and Orwell ANOB), rather than taking the approved route north of Ipswich.
In the court case much evidence was provided. For example I was able to hear 38 flights over my house between 7.00 pm and 8.30 pm on the 5th June 2005 (ie. 1 plane every 2.3 minutes) and this was corroborated by Mr L Boulton of NATS Corporate and Technical Centre. On the same day, I also noted 25 flights between the time of 10.00 pm and 11.00 pm (ie. 1 plane every 2.4 minutes), again correlated by NATS. Because of the very low ambient noise as illustrated by Mr Sharps’ technical observations as the noise of one plane faded away another could be heard leaving a continuous noise in the sky.
As a result of the court case which took place on the 14th–20th December 2005 the Hon. Mr Justice Newman found for the Dedham Vale Society and costs were awarded. The judge stated that “The events which transpired after March 2004 reasonably gave rise to a deep sense of grievance on the part of the claimants and to all those concerned for the environment in the Dedham Vale and other areas of outstanding natural beauty.”
He went on to say that the Dedham Vale Society had served the public interest in forcing the issue which has now led to NATS reconsidering air traffic control in the south east, due to be implemented in March 2009. However, there is no guarantee as to the outcome of this exercise and further damage to the AONB’s (by yet further over-flying) should not be sanctioned until this issue has been satisfactorily resolved.
|4. Impacts of intensification of use of Stansted airport|
a) The Stour and Orwell Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is located some 50 miles from Stansted but the effects of further intensity of aviation traffic will be felt by communities not only close to the airport but those a distance away
b) The Secretary of State’s guidance to the CAA on environmental objectives relating to the exercise of its Air Navigation Functions was published as part of the Transport Act 2000 and clearly states at paragraph 46 that “The governments aim is to give stronger protection to the most valued landscapes in designated national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Therefore, wherever practical the Director of Airspace policy should pursue policies that will help to preserve the tranquillity of the countryside where this does not increase significantly the environmental burdens on congested areas.”
c) Paragraph 55 goes on to say that visual intrusion by aircraft above 7,000 ft may be a consideration in exceptional cases such as national parks and AONB’s.
d) There is therefore statutory acknowledgement of the importance of protecting AONB’s in terms of both noise (tranquillity) and visual intrusion. Despite such protection, unrelenting inbound and outbound air traffic is causing major disturbance in the area. Increased usage of Stansted will further threaten our area.
e) We would therefore urge that you reject the proposal from BAA to increase flights by 170 a day at Stansted Airport.
f) However, if you are minded to approve BAA’s proposal then may I respectfully ask that a precondition for the implementation of such approval should be the adoption of routing arrangements which generally direct aircraft away from the Dedham Vale and Stour and Orwell AONB’s which are recognised areas of tranquillity and whose environmental quality is expressly protected by statute.
Stephen M Clark BSc FRICS ACIArb
21st August 2007
Response by the Alde and Ore Association
Mr P J Ridley Planning and Coastal Management Department Suffolk Coastal District Council , Melton Hill , Woodbridge Suffolk IP12 1AU
13 May 2014
Dear Mr. Ridley,
Bentwaters Parks Planning application ref: C/10/3239
I am writing on behalf of The Alde and Ore Association. As you will know the aim of the Association, as set out at the foot of this page, is to preserve for the public benefit, the Alde, Ore and Butley Creek rivers and adjoining land. The Association’s remit takes into account not only physical aspects of development adjoining the rivers but pollution of the estuary arising from causes beyond its immediate surroundings.
The planning application C/10/3239 includes a proposal to legalise 960 aircraft movements by 8 heritage aircraft a year plus an annual air show, and some commercial flights. The Association regards pollution arising from aircraft noise in the vicinity as detrimental to the tranquillity of the estuary which is one of its most notable features.
Bentwaters is only 3.5KM (2.2miles) from the nearest part of the estuary at Butley Mills. Aircraft noise, even if not directly overhead will be disturbing.
Heritage aircraft are of their nature relatively low flying and therefore noisy to people on the ground; commercial aircraft, even if higher, are noisier. The fact that the application proposes to limit flying to the period June to March specifically acknowledges that disturbance to nesting birds in the area will occur.
The application is asking approval for 960 aircraft movements a year plus an undisclosed number of commercial flights but is vague on how this relates to existing and illegal flight numbers. As the application recognises, the airfield cannot control flights either in where they fly before coming into land nor once they have taken off. Indeed, restrictions on flight paths and permitted flying heights are notoriously difficult to enforce and would be outside the jurisdiction of SCDC. There would not therefore be acceptable protection from noise pollution. Bentwaters Park is situated within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and we consider that any flying from there would be contrary to policies protecting this designated area, in particular protection of tranquillity. Policy SP8 seeks to give the highest levels of protection to designated areas of national or international status. Policies SP14, SP, SP17, DM18, DM21 and DEM29 are relevant. Protection of the countryside which is very relevant to this issue is included in policies SP19, SP28 and SP29. The core framework does not make any allowances for aerodromes/flying within the AONBs.
Flying can only be permitted in an AONB if there are exceptional circumstances or it is in the public interest and that the activity could not be carried on elsewhere. These exceptions do not apply and there are we understand five aerodromes in East Anglia where flying can take place away outside and AONB.
It appears that the current flying activity of one Spitfire is unofficially accepted. However while the low flying, including involving dive and barrel rollover by a single plane over some houses in the area, has been tolerated, to expand this to flying most of the year to 8 planes as well as other commercial flying would be a quite different order of nuisance.
The current use of the airfield for light industrial purposes supports local economic activity, flying heritage planes does not support the local community. There is no case in economic terms either for a change of use.
As well as being within an AONB, the Alde and Ore estuary is a valued location for visitors as well as home owners and sailors. The Association commissioned an economic study of the Alde and Ore Area from RPA Consultants. The results were available from 5 April 2014.The findings include that there are some 280,000 day visitors to the area and 100,000 overnight trips, these visitors together spending some £76 million a year. Based on questionnaire returns, the last question which was completed by half of all those householders and visitors who filled in the questionnaire, was to give a in a few words what people valued about the area: the top five words volunteered by 257 people were scenery, tranquillity, countryside, beauty and peace. Of the 105 responses completed by those answering the Sailing questionnaire the top five words were sailing, unspoilt, beauty, river and peace. A growing presence of aircraft noise would completely undermine the core elements of peace and tranquillity for which the area is valued. There would therefore be an economic loss to many businesses in the area as well as the impact on the quality of the area, the environment and wild life if civil aviation were permitted.
In conclusion, we see no justification for overturning the ruling made by the Planning Inspector in 1999 “that use of former RAF Bentwaters base for civil aviation is unacceptable.”
The Association therefore OBJECTS to this application.
Alison Andrews Chairman of the Alde and Ore Association
- The baseline for planning permission could be taken as the outcome of the last Planning Inquiry. Members may remember the major planning consultation in the late 1990s when there was great concern that Bentwaters would be used as a large commercial flying base. The outcome of the planning inquiry was that the Planning Inspector ruled was that there should be no flights. "That any economic benefits that might accrue from a new civilian airport are plainly outweighed by the costs to the wider surrounding area in economic, social and environmental terms. I have therefore concluded that … use for civil aviation is unacceptable." And as regards location, "the area enjoys a high status of protection in terms of landscape and scenic beauty, and wild life habitats. Government advice makes it clear that the siting of major commercial development in these areas is inconsistent with the aims of designation and only a proven national need and lack of alternative sites can justify can exception. No exception applies here."
- Since the last Inquiry, the Alde and Ore Estuary has continued to be subject to a range of special designations to protect a number of different wild life species. The include the estuary being a Ramsar site, a Special Protection Area, a Special Area of Conservation, a number of SSSIs and has a number of reserves.
- The application suggests that New National Planning Policy introduced in 2012 provides for sustainable development. It acknowledges that permission should not be granted where significant harm resulting from the development. But the application's findings on estimated flight heights conclude that there would be no significant impact on the internationally designated sites in the area.
- The application takes the view that the baseline for the application is current usage which has not been the subject of local complaints. In the last very few years, the Bentwaters site has been the base for the Spitfire which has started to fly over the area. The Spitfire is also based in Duxford.
- There have also been commercial flights, currently running at about 10 a month, which have resulted from people wishing to land and not at the initiative of Bentwaters. As yet no permission exists for any flights.
- The application seeks to provide for not only the Spitfire but also up to 7 more heritage aircraft and some commercial flights and an annual air show. Evidence for the impact on wildlife of heritage aircraft only exists for the single Spitfire.
- It is noted that the application states that control of flight paths is beyond the control of both the applicants and the local authority. It suggests that any aircraft are likely to move away from the AONB area and so only have a nominal influence on the tranquility of the area. No further explanation is given.
- The air show would be once a year and likely to be at one weekend and timed to avoid other local events. It is intended to avoid holding the show at the time of peak breeding season of the most sensitive species in the area, that is March to May for the woodlark.
- The proposals are based on the premise that applicants consider that the level of the current operations is the base line not the position when the 1999 Planning Inquiry decision was given.