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  • Writer's picturePhil North

New Tree Planting to Replace Noisy Airfield

Residents of Hurstbourne Tarrant and the wider Bourne Valley will be pleased to hear that at TVBC's planning meeting last night, the committee gave permission for a new dwelling at Bourne Park and the planting of 12,500 trees to replace the noisy airfield operation. 

Over 100 members of the public wrote in to back the application citing noise generating and low flying gazelle helicopters over the AONB, which have been having such an impact on local residents and injuring livestock. 

The permission will also have huge ecological benefits - creating two wildlife corridors linking Doles Wood to Rag Copse. Not only will this help the objectives of the local dormouse project - it is absolutely crucial to help deliver our collective commitments to tackling climate change. 

I spoke in favour of the application and you can read my full speech to the committee below:

"Mr Chairman,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak tonight.

The Northern Area Planning Committee first considered this application in March of this year – where, by a large margin, it voted to give the application permission.

I was a member of the planning committee back then – and I made the argument that it should be given permission under local plan policy LE10 – criterion (B).

Which states: “On existing employment sites development for an alternative use WILL be permitted provided that:

The current activity is causing, or COULD cause significant harm to the amenities of residents”

I believed there was enough evidence then – 96 different members of the public indicated their support for the application on the basis of noise and low flying gazelle helicopters over the AONB.

Indeed, in its resolution the committee decided – and I quote: “That the proposal would result in the loss of a noise source where there is significant anecdotal evidence that noise from the site is having adverse impacts.”

The Planning Control Committee then considered the application and asked for a noise survey to back up what members of the public said.

Despite the conclusions reached in this committee report I believe the noise survey adds weight to the application being approved under LE10 (B):

On page 23, the noise survey clearly states: “that if operated at capacity Bourne Park Airfield could generate aviation noise that could elevate the ambient sound level in the area.”

It goes on to say that: “the operation of the airfield could significantly contribute to the ambient sound level and intrude significantly into the soundscape of the Bourne Valley more widely.”

Remember that criterion (B) of LE10 is clear “that development WILL BE PERMITTED if the employment site COULD cause significant harm to the amenities of residents.”

COULD is quite a low burden of proof – and if you combine the findings of the noise survey with evidence of almost 100 local residents, the Parish Council our speakers here tonight and landowners who have had livestock killed and injured as a result of helicopter noise, then I believe there is more than enough evidence to justify permission.

Remember that if you believe it should be approved under criterion b) it does not need to comply with criterion a) relating to economic development needs. And in any event – as Falcon Aviation have confirmed – they employ just one full time member of staff and are not opposing this application.

Not only that – as the previous Northern Area Planning Committee identified when it granted permission – the application will also deliver significant ecological and landscape enhancements through the planting of twelve and half thousand trees.

You will see from your agenda papers that the application has the support of the North Wessex Downs AONB, Andover Trees United and Test Valley Borough Council – concerning the tree planting – which will create two wildlife corridors linking Doles Wood to Rag Copse. Not only will this help the objectives of the Test Valley Doormouse project – it is absolutely crucial to help deliver our commitments to tackling climate change.

I know there are still some outstanding issues relating to nitrate neutrality and Natural England but if you were minded to give this application permission tonight because it complies with the Local Plan and because of the huge ecological benefits it entails – then you could grant permission and delegate the nitrates element to the Head of Planning to sort out.

Finally, having served on the planning committee for 12 years, I know it’s sometimes difficult to vote against the recommendations of officers but in this instance you have officers from Test Valley, albeit in a different department, backing the application because of its huge green benefits. There is a wider prize for the council here that I would ask you to consider.

One dwelling, twelve and half thousand trees and peace and quiet for local residents will be so much better than an airfield operation that employs just one full time member of staff.

I ask that you please support this application."

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