Controversial Eshott Airfield plans up for approval by Northumberland councillors

A controversial bid relating to the operating hours of a north Northumberland airfield is up for a decision next week.

Monday, 2nd March 2020, 2:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 9:53 am

A controversial bid relating to the operating hours of a north Northumberland airfield is up for a decision next week.

The application, which seeks to allow aircraft to take off, land or move around at Eshott Airfield between 7am and 11pm on a permanent basis, is recommended for approval at next Monday's (March 9) meeting of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council.

However, it is also recommended that a condition is imposed to limit the extended hours to a further 15-month trial period and that there should also be an agreed management plan in place.

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Eshott Airfield.

The proposal has attracted 107 letters of opposition from residents, as well as objections from both Thirston and Felton Parish Councils, but also 170 letters of support.

However, despite a range of concerns, the planning officer's report concludes that 'the proposals are considered to be acceptable in principle and in terms of residential amenity, ecology, transportation matters and landscape/visual impact subject to the conditions'.

Back in September 2018, the local area council agreed a series of changes for the facility to the south of Felton, which sought to regularise the conditions attached to a planning permission granted in 1995 for the airfield, which is now under different ownership.

That application, which was approved unanimously after plenty of discussion, included increased hours of operation, up from 9am-7pm to 7am-11pm, but for a temporary period of 12 months.

At that meeting, Coun Glen Sanderson, the area’s ward member, had proposed amending the hours of operation to 8am to 8pm as a compromise to try to appease local residents.

However, he did not receive support for this, particularly after members heard that while the 7am-11pm operating hours would apply all year round, in practice this would only be during the summer as the runway is not lit.

The latest report to councillors states that the applicant, Richard Pike, has supplied details of flights between September 2018 and September last year, which show a total of 3,083, but only 45 of these were during the extended hours of 7am to 9am or 7pm to 11pm.

It adds: 'Officers have cross-referenced these statistics against representations received from objectors and the parish councils and there are no substantial inconsistencies.'

The report also notes that the council’s public protection officer, who has not objected, has visited the airfield and observed aircraft taking off, landing and undertaking circuits.