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Row over increased use of airfield

Safety issues have been raised about plans to increase the
number of flights from a private airfield in a small village.

Well-used footpaths not only surround but also cross the runway,
which is situated on land four acres west of Copes Farm in Lords
Hill, Frinsted.

Power lines also hang above part of the runway and the flight
path passes over the centre of the village.

Planning laws currently allow flights for a maximum of 28 days a
year at the field but Thomas Lee, of Park Road, Sittingbourne, who
keeps his aircraft at the site, has applied to Maidstone Borough
Council to change the use of land from agriculture to a private
airstrip and for an extension on the number of flights per

Resident Dave Blackbrow, 46, and his wife Claire, 45, say the
field, which adjoins their house, is not suitable to host the
flying of light aircraft and are concerned about public safety.

Mr Blackbrow, of The Street, said: "The paths over which the
planes take off and land are used extensively by children
completing Duke of Edinburgh and similar awards as well as groups
of adult hikers. One footpath runs across the runway and another is
at the end of the runway. There are no signs warning people.

"The flight path also goes right over the centre of the village
which means they are at a very low level when they take off and
land which is the most dangerous time so as well as a noise
nuisance there is also a safety issue.

"We've lived in the village for 15 years and we have only
noticed the planes being flown perhaps five or six times a

"While nobody likes living at the end of a runway, such
infrequently use caused us minimal discomfort or risk and we were
willing to ignore it.

"Then about a year ago a group of pilots took on rental of the
land and airstrip and use of the airstrip increased dramatically as
they all need to fly a certain minimum number of hours each year to
retain their pilot licences.

"We're worried this is the first step to converting the current
occasional use, single plane airstrip into a multi-plane full-time
aerodrome. The strip brings no benefit to the local community

People have until Monday, October 18, to register their views on the planning application. To view the application - reference number 10/1566 - visit the website www.maidstone.gov.uk

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