Residents’ anger over peace 
broken by powered parachutists

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Residents living near a paramotor club are up in arms over the possibility it could be given a certificate of legal use in spite of their concerns.

People living in the area of Solden Hill, between Byfield and Aston le Walls, say they have only heard through the grapevine that the field alongside the A361 may be given consent to continue after 10 years of unofficial use.

The Solden Hill Paramotor Club says it has been operating from the field for 14 years.

The landowner, Ian Neild, has told South Northants Council a lease for the rental arrangement started in 2003.

Frank Houghton-Brown, of nearby Redhill Farm, said: “They fly over my house as low as 100 feet. They wave. They are so low they could see inside my loo window. They scare my horses and it seems the dangers of a pile up on the A361 if a horse took fright and bolted have not been considered.

“It is an outrage that something that has being going on unofficially for years could give them rights that will make it no longer outside the law.”

Residents from outlying properties and neighbouring villages complain that pilots of the paramotors – a powered parachute – fly low and appear to be able to observe people in the privacy of their gardens.

But club members say they adhere to all guidelines, flying over 500 feet up except when taking off or landing.

Paul Taylor said: “When the wind is in a certain direction we have no alternative but to fly in a certain direction.

“Your focus is on flying forward and looking around, you can’t really see downwards.

“We have three flying sites and about 20 regular members. We have had only one complaint in ten years until recently.

“At 500 feet the noise is less than a lawn mower. We’ve given a lot of people a lot of fun and it has been safe. We have been operating here for 14 years.”

Mr Neild told the Daventry Express: “If they can’t satisfy the neighbours I don’t want them to do it.”

In letters of objection Byfield Parish Council said: “Passing commercial and military aircraft may be more noisy, but they fly over quickly and do not circle around for a long time at a low level.”

Aston le Walls parish council objected on the grounds of noise pollution, disturbance of the peace, health and safety for horses and riders, road users, livestock and pets.

It is also concerned about flying in ‘no fly zones’, especially the parish and over equestrian centres or private stables.

Edgecote Estate said the paramotors were a risk to 200 racehorses in training as well as others who use their gallops.

Mr Taylor said Edgecote should apply to the Civil Aviation Authority for an exclusion zone but estate manager Hamish Gairdner said the MOD had already banned training flights overhead for safety reasons.

Numerous property owners have asked the council to reject the application.

A council statement said: “No decision has yet been made and members of the public are still able to comment. A decision is expected to be made by around Friday, December 5.”

See http://snc.planning-register.co.uk/ Application number S/2014/1934/LDE.