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Complaints soar over low-flying military aircraft in Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 08:25 11 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:16 12 May 2019

Military aircraft pictured at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Military aircraft pictured at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: GREGG BROWN

More than 1,000 complaints were made about low-flying military aircraft in Norfolk and Suffolk in a year - more than a seven-fold rise on the year before.

Military aircraft pictured at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: GREGG BROWNMilitary aircraft pictured at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ministry of Defence (MoD) statistics show the number of complaints made in Low Flying Areas (LFAs) Five and 10, which broadly cover Suffolk and Norfolk, rose from just 132 in the year ending March 31 2017 to 1,020 the following year.

In LFA Five, which covers Norfolk and where the majority of the complaints were made, that means on average there has been a complaint for every hour of low-flying military activity.

The rise in complaints came despite a fall in the number of low flying hours, from 1,611 in the year up to March 2017 to 1,239 in the year up to March 2018 in LFA Five.

Similarly over the same time period, LFA 10 saw a fall in low flying hours from 822 to 753.

Military aircraft pictured at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: GREGG BROWNMilitary aircraft pictured at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: GREGG BROWN

However the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that while it understands low flying can be unpopular, it "remains an essential part of operational training".

A spokesman said the MoD "strives ensure that such disturbance is kept to a minimum" but said: "Unfortunately, there are no uninhabited areas of the UK large enough to cater for all essential training needs."

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LFAs Five and 10 are home to a number of airbases including RAF Marham near King's Lynn, RAF Honington near Thetford and the American airbases of RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall.

Those bases use a range of hi-tech military planes and aircraft, although the figures pre-date the arrival of the F35-B Lightning stealth fighter jets at Marham and Lakenheath.

However people living close to the airbases have said many residents are not bothered by the noise and that the airbases take seriously the concerns of those who do make complaints.

Edward Morley, chairman of Lakenheath Parish Council, said: "I myself have lived here for many years and it's never been a major problem for me. It's the nature of the beast.

"We have more and more people coming to this area every year from outside East Anglia and it's their right to complain if they feel aggrieved about noise."

Asked if RAF Lakenheath heeds people's concerns, he said: "They absolutely do."

A spokesman for the 100th Air Refueling Wing, based at RAF Mildenhall, said: "A substantial area of the United Kingdom is subject to permanent low flying restrictions, including cities, towns and other sensitive installations such as hospitals and industrial sites.

"However it is not possible to avoid over-flying the outskirts of towns and villages."

People who want to complain about low flying can do so by emailing the MoD's low flying inbox.

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