Air rallies and extra flights planned for Northumberland airfield

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A microlight airfield in north Northumberland wants permission to carry out more flights and hold air rallies.

An application has been lodged with Northumberland County Council, seeking approval for a number of changes to the existing planning permission for Athey’s Moor Airfield, to the north-east of Longframlington.

If approved, the bid to remove and vary several conditions, would allow the following on a permanent basis:

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

Stock image showing a view from a microlight in flightStock image showing a view from a microlight in flight
Stock image showing a view from a microlight in flight

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.

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To avoid impacting on residents, the application explains that flying training, including circuits and touch-and-go manoeuvres, would take place on weekdays between the permitted hours of 9am and 7pm.

There would be flying training at weekends as well, but this ‘would be limited to upper air work and navigational exercises away from the site’.

In relation to the air rallies, a supporting statement says: ‘The airfield owner will invite local residents, businesses and operators to take part in shared festivals and flying activities to help broker positive relationships and promote shared ideas among the local community with a view to raising funds for local, national and international charities.

‘These activities will only take place during the permitted flying hours and days, they will be well managed, promoting volunteering, young people’s participation while building and strengthening community cohesion.’

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The document notes that the applicant has not been notified of any nuisance or complaints by neighbouring residents, nor from Newcastle International Airport or Air Traffic Control that safety has been compromised.

It adds: ‘Athey’s Moor Airfield has proven to be an efficient and effective small airfield which promotes flying recreation, increases physical activity among members, increases camaraderie and friendships, engineering skills, while securing additional income and footfall for local businesses and amenities, particularly village shops, restaurants, pubs and holiday parks.’

Flying on the increase?

A certificate of lawful use has now been granted for the facility, which features a grass airstrip for light aircraft, around 500 metres long by 25 metres wide, a small hangar for storage, and a static caravan that is used as a rest room for pilots and passengers.

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The scheme, which seeks to allow operating hours of 7am to 11pm on a permanent basis, was recommended for approval, although with a condition to limit the extended hours to a further 15-month trial period.

A previous 12-month period had been agreed by the local area council in September 2018, with the latest bid submitted last August.

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