From the East Anglian Daily Times - June 20, 2014
Bentwaters: Campaigners hit back in row over Spitfire flying at former air base
Richard Cornwell Friday, June 20, 2014
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.
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.
From the East Anglian Daily Times - June 23, 2014
Bentwaters: Flying at old military air base has split communities across east Suffolk
Richard Cornwell Monday, June 23, 2014
Campaigners fighting proposals to increase flying at a former military air base say they are not opposed to an historic Spitfire using the runway.
The Bentwaters Campaign Group (BCG) says it is trying to promote a “sensible and rational” debate about the future of flying from the site and its potential impact on the coastal Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Pilot Carolyn Grace, whose company Air Leasing Ltd operates the Grace Spitfire ML407, withdrew from a display at the weekend’s Rendlesham Show, saying her decision was “a direct result” of the activities of the BCG.
A BCG spokesman strongly refuted the suggestion, saying Mrs Grace’s decision was fuelling unwarranted resentment against the campaign group.
He said: “The decision to withdraw from the event was Mrs Grace’s alone.
“Any suggestion that BCG is involved in it is wrong. The BCG did not make any comment about the event. It didn’t contact Suffolk Coastal District Council about it, and the district council did not, to our knowledge, say she could not fly either.”
The group says its critics have “mischievously suggested” that it is opposed to flying by the Spitfire from Bentwaters.
The spokesman said: “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.
“Many individuals have objected to proposals for flying by more aircraft at Bentwaters. That is the point.”
Opponents believe extra flying will destroy the tranquility of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, harm wildlife, and ruin one of the main reasons people visit the Suffolk Coastal area.
Bentwaters Parks says its blueprint for the future of the former 940-acre Cold War base seeks to regularise the activities already taking place.
It is seeking consent for the use of nearly 200 buildings as well as 960 air movements a year, which would include an air show, the flying of heritage planes and occasional business flights. It has denied that it is attempting to create a civil airport.