NOISE pollution campaigners have asked the government to step in and take direct control of air traffic at Wycombe Air Park.
Wycombe Air Park Action Group, which was formed last year by residents who were angry about noisy planes, has lodged an application with secretary of state Geoff Hoon for the Department for Transport (DfT) for 'specification’ of the air park in accordance with the Civil Aviation Act.
If it is successful air traffic from the site in Booker, Great Marlow, will be regulated by the DfT and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the same way as the largest UK airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick. Currently, it is effectively self regulated.
An unsuccessful application was brought by Wycombe District Council in the late 1980s. WAPAG spokesman Richard Wetenhall, said: “We are saddened and frustrated that we have been forced to take the unusual step of applying to the DfT for a specification order.
“However, the complete breakdown of all attempts to work constructively with the Air Park leaves us with no alternative. As the law stands, the only bodies that can resolve the impasse are the DfT and the CAA.”
WAPAG’s move follows both Hambleden Parish Council and Lane End Parish Council suspending their membership of the Wycombe Air Park Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), in protest at the way in which it is run – including barring members of the public from its meetings three times in 2008.
Among WAPAG's aims are the fitting of secondary silencers to aircraft operating out of the park, an end to circuit flight training fat weekends and on Public Holidays and an no more helicopter training at the site.
Wycombe Air Park, which was built in 1967, provides flight training for pilots and the National Air Traffic Service’s trainee air traffic control cadets.
Airpark manager Tim Orchard would not comment on WAPAG's aims.
However, in response to the parish councils' decision not to send a representative to meetings of the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) he said: “Those parish councils are entitled to send a representative to JCC meetings.
“They have chosen not to which means they are no longer able to influence the JCC on behalf of their parishioners.”
Wycombe MP Paul Goodman, whose constituency includes the air park, said: “I'd be completely opposed to any proposal to close Wycombe Air Park. However, I'm not convinced that the balance of the law is currently fair between users and residents.
“It hasn't really been substantially revised for over 20 years - and there's been considerable growth in air traffic during that period, particularly of helicopter flights.
“I haven't seen the details of the action group's application, so I can’t comment on it, but I think it's important for relations between the people who run the air park and local residents to be as open as possible, and for there to be the widest possible access to meetings held by the Joint Consultative Committee."