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Wycombe council: air park residents "not at fault"
RESIDENTS suffer noise from Wycombe Air Park through “no fault of their own”, a leading councillor said, as bosses backed curbs on plane noise.
Councillor Audrey Jones’s comments put her at odds with some residents and councillors who say those unhappy with the noise should not have moved near the park.
Wycombe District Council’s ruling cabinet last night backed residents’ bid to have the Booker facility regulated, which could curb noise.
Conservative Cllr Jones, who proposed the move, said: “I’m in favour of doing whatever we can to improve the living conditions of people in live in Wycombe and, in particular, people who, for no fault of their own, in a situation where they are subject to a large amount of noise.”
Yet a consultation among WDC councillors who represent the area found four do not support the move, for the Department for Transport to “specify” the park (see link, bottom of story).
If this goes ahead then when the Civil Aviation Authority licence the park in Booker, Great Marlow, it would need to “have regard to the need to minimise so far as reasonably practicable any adverse effects on the environment”.
It would also have to regard “any disturbance to the public including noise from aircraft”. Presently the air park’s licence only covers safety matters.
Some councillors said: “Residents knew of the noise issues when they moved into the area.”
Also “only a few residents have complained” of noise and only Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead airports had come within this law, they said.
However, cabinet member Jean Teesdale, responsible for planning, backed the move.
She said: “As one of the local members that has been quite involved in the problems with the air park I welcome that we are going to do this.
“There are definitely some very serious concerns, particularly at weekends and the summer when people want to sit in their gardens and people have aircraft noise constantly every few minutes.”
The call has been brought by the Wycombe Air Park Action Group which says the park is too noisy and is blighting residents’ lives. The DfT has now asked WDC for its view.
Today Tim Orchard, managing director of the air park, said the cost of putting in noise reduction measures would have to be borne by the taxpayers locally or nationally.
He said: “It couldn’t be borne by the airfield. The airfield doesn’t have funds to do so.
“The council wishes to be seen by the greater populace as being fair but I suspect, in the end, if the DfT decide to do something, then the council will shoot itself in the foot.”
And he said: “The action group represents a very very tiny minority of those people in the local area.”
Efforts had been made to cut noise, he said. Mr Orchard said: “We physically have no other things we can add to improve our relations with the locals.”
The council failed in a similar application in 1988.
It is presently locked in the row with the park over rent. The council wants to put the rent up 1,600 per cent from £42,800 a year to £676,000 (see link, bottom of story).
The lease began in 1972 and runs out in 2014 and is reviewed every seven years. The council said advice showed WDC “significantly undervalued” the site.
The council is considering relocated Adams Park, homes of Wycombe Wanderers and London Wasps, to the site.
In a statement, the action group said tonight: "We are delighted that WDC are backing residents as they did in the 1980s.
"WDC has no statutory powers to deal with noise from WAP as things stand; specification could change that.
"WAPAG now represents well over 500 households in the area; we are not a ‘tiny minority’.
"There are members of our group who have lived in the area since the 1940s, long before the airfield was established.
"While WAP claim they have nothing more to offer, we have suggested a number of changes that would make a material difference for residents.
"We do not believe WAP would have to bear additional costs for additional noise reduction measures; items such as silencers have been offered by a local resident free of charge.
"We believe it is unreasonable for WAP to expect public money to fund any changes, particularly as they already receive a generous public subsidy courtesy of a £42,000 annual rent on a 208 acre site."
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