Villagers are being warned of changes to helicopter flight paths after concerns were raised for protected wildlife sites.
The application is for helicopters to fly from Great Oakley Airfield for work on the Galloper Windfarm off the coast of Suffolk for two years.
But concerns from Natural England and the RSPB, siting a possibly “severe” impact on birds in the Hamford Water and Stour Estuary protected areas, have prompted changes to the proposed route.
The new flightpath would see helicopters pass over residential areas in Little Oakley and Ramsey before taking a right turn at Upper Dovercourt and flying out to sea.
Mike Bush, Tendring councillor for Little and Great Oakley, said: “The people who don’t live in this parish won’t know about the flight paths and it’s going to impact on them. If they are avoiding wildlife then the flight path is going to go over residential.”
Tendring council has so far received 19 letters of objection to the helipad. Nicholas Salmon, of Beaumont Road, Great Oakley, said: “It is our opinion that Great Oakley is a totally unsuitable place for a helipad to be in place for two years.
“The noise nuisance alone would be unbearable for local residents.”
Lorna Small, of Hamford Drive, Great Oakley, said: “The intrusive nature of such activity, unrelated to any benefit for the village, is beyond belief.
“The Galloper project is one to be supported without doubt as it will contribute to the sustainability of energy sources into the future, but should not impact negatively on a small population in a quiet rural village with a high elderly demographic.”
The application is for a temporary helipad, demountable building, fuel storage tank and refuelling facility, lighting and additional car parking at the airfield for up to two years, while the company waits for planning permission and construction of a base at Harwich Port.
Toby Edmonds, project director for Galloper Offshore Wind Farm said: “We consider Harwich a very important part of the Galloper offshore wind farm project. “The Galloper operations and maintenance base will bring significant jobs, investment and renewable energy expertise, over its twenty three year lifetime.
“This shall not just be limited to Harwich but the wider east coast area, and it is critical that this nationally significant renewable energy project has the suitable infrastructure to support it. “Our preferred option is to have the helipad in the same location as the base at Harwich International Port.
“As well as being operationally efficient it avoids any flight paths over residential settlements. However due to construction timescales and consent delays – our application for the base and associated helipad at Harwich was submitted in November 2016 – a temporary application to utilise the established airfield at Great Oakley has been submitted. “Following objections from the RSPB and Natural England with regards to the planning application at Great Oakley, we have revised the flight path to avoid the designated Special Protection Area and buffer zone. The revised flight path is part of the current application.
“RSPB along with Natural England have raised objections to the proposed helipad at Harwich International Port which we are currently assessing.”
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