Published: 09:34, 27 April 2021
| Updated: 09:47, 27 April 2021
A fundraising campaign has been launched to help village residents fight plans to build an airfield in Little Mongeham near Deal.
About £755 has been raised following our story about the proposed airstrip for electric-powered small planes last week.
MP Natalie Elphicke is also opposing the scheme on grounds that it will cause environmental effects and noise nuisance in the rural area.
Last week we reported how a group of flight enthusiasts want to build two hangers to accommodate 20 light aeroplanes and a mown runway in farmer Richard Ledger's field in Manor Farm.
The land borders Willow Woods Road in Little Mongeham and Mill Lane/Coulson Grove in Northbourne.
A prepared statement from Mr Ledger described the project as an "informal small farm airstrip," and not a commercial one.
He says residents became concerned prematurely before the district council released the plans and dimensions which he submitted to the planning department on April 16. Because of this he has released drawings to Kentonline so the public can see the scale of the scheme.
He says the site will be a testing ground to help revolutionise green aviation. Coming at a time when electric vehicles are increasing in popularity, he says aviation will go the same way.
But some neighbours are horrified, fearing it will lead to overbearing noise and ruin wildlife habitats.
They have set up a campaign group called Chocks-Go-Away to fight the scheme.
This week the group said: "The controversial proposal and what opponents describe as its ‘greenwashing’ have enraged residents who are now fighting to stop the scheme.
"Chocks-Go-Away, a group established to rigorously challenge the application and question Mr Ledger’s reported ‘green’ ambitions, is experiencing a groundswell of support as more people learn of the potential impact on residents, environment, wildlife and the rural landscape."
The crowdfunding campaign is running alongside the activities of the pressure group. Cash raised will pay for leaflets, placards, newsletters, correspondence and advice.
A statement on the page by Linda Steger says: "The airstrip will affect several villages (Little Mongeham, Great Mongeham, East Studdal, Northbourne and Sutton) and properties close to the flightpath with noise, pollution, wildlife, landscape, amenity impact, businesses and 100's of residents.
"All this disruption for a tiny number of people and their noisy unsustainable hobby.
"The land owner in question owns a lot of land and properties in the area, so we will have a fight on our hands."
Mr Ledger has today been asked to comment in response.
"The noise and environmental pollution is likely to be very disruptive for the villages of Little Mongeham and Northbourne and the town of Deal..."
Last week we reported how the airfield will be one of the first ever to have a charging point for the first all-electric Pipistrel Velis Electro two-seater aircraft which is to be certified in the UK.
Although mostly two-seaters with small, ultra-fuel efficient engines, they nevertheless use conventional fuel.
MP for Deal Natalie Elphicke said she has written to the Aviation Minister and Civil Aviation Authority chiefs setting out her concerns and pressing the minister to take urgent action.
She says the site is not suitable for this commercial activity and that commercial flying should be carried out at Manston Airport instead.
She says: “This proposal is completely inappropriate. The noise and environmental pollution is likely to be very disruptive for the villages of Little Mongeham and Northbourne and the town of Deal.
"I have also raised this matter with local councillors, who I know share concerns about the plans.”
A spokesperson for those behind the plans said it would not be a commercial airfield but described it as an informal small farm airstrip.
A prepared statement said: “We are extremely disappointed that there is a campaign to fight this proposal even before the planning application has been made public.
“When local residents have the opportunity to look at the planning application in detail, I think they will realise that some of the statements made so far by the opponents have grossly exaggerated the scale and nature of the proposals.
“Out of courtesy we contacted all the parish councils in the area before submitting the application and have offered to have further dialogue with them.
"We hope the council will be able to make the application public soon so that local residents will be able to see the details, put them into their true perspective, and be reassured that the proposals will cause no harm to this area of countryside or the surrounding villages.”
Mr Ledger has applied to Dover District Council for planning consent but no plan have been uploaded to the authority's portal for public inspection.
Dover District Council has been asked to comment.
To see the crowdfunder page, click here
Or follow the residents' goup progress at chocksgoaway.com/