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CHANGES APPROVED: Increased flights and more changes for Athey’s Moor Airfield

CHANGES APPROVED: Increased flights and more changes for Athey’s Moor Airfield

Image: Google Maps

A microlight airfield in north Northumberland can now carry out more flights and hold air rallies thanks to backing from county councillors.

A number of changes to the existing planning permission for Athey’s Moor Airfield, to the north-east of Longframlington, were unanimously approved by the North Northumberland Local Area Council on Thursday, February 18.

The bid to remove and vary several conditions, which had been recommended for approval, allows the following on a permanent basis:

Flying training, circuits and touch-and-go manoeuvres to take place at the site;

Aircraft arrivals and departures on 150 days per year, up from 120;

Daily aircraft movements to be increased to 50 movements, ie, 25 take-offs and 25 landings, in a 24-hour period, up from 36;

The site to be used for up to four air rallies, festivals or similar charitable activities per year with 200 movements within a 24-hour period allowed on these occasions.

The proposals had sparked 38 objections from residents and local businesses, as well as from Longframlington and Edlingham Parish Councils, while there were also 57 representations in support from residents and pilots who use the airfield.

A written submission to the virtual meeting from nearby Dene House Farm described the bid as a ‘significant intensification’ from what was originally approved, amounting to what should require a full planning application.

It said the changes would ‘adversely affect and in some cases impede the Dene House Farm leisure business’.

A similar submission from Embleton Steads Farm, which also referred to New Moor Hall Farm, said that ‘both farming families are regularly disturbed by overhead flights’ and claimed that a 2011 incident led to a ‘dangerous stampede in a barn’.

“Intensification would adversely affect both families,” it added.

However, a statement from Doug Coppin, on behalf of the applicant, thanked the county council for its diligence which has meant ‘we have managed to dismiss some microlight myths’.

He said that a noise report submitted with the application shows how animals are not affected and how the noise is kept within NCC parameters.

Meanwhile, in response to a question from the chairman Cllr Trevor Thorne, David Latham, from the council’s public protection team, said: “I don’t think we could impose any more conditions to regulate what’s in front of us.”

Moving approval, Cllr Gordon Castle, said: “I don’t see this as objectionable in the way some are suggesting.

“There’s a public interest in microlight flying, it’s got a certain value in terms of community interest.

“I think it’s acceptable. I see why there are those that wouldn’t want it, I can see some would think it’s dangerous, but I think the risks are minimal.”

Cllr Thorne welcomed the range of conditions, which ‘have to be strong and have to be stuck to’, adding: “I don’t see this as a huge expansion, it’s measured, not an explosion.”

Words: Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporter

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