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Field Loss - Planning complaint

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Nigel R23/11/2018 12:48:14
4299 forum posts
716 photos

Sad news for my lot.

Our landlord received a complaint, which I believe was against a planning application for other buildings on his land (barn / light industrial stuff, I think).

Of course we are operating from agricultural land. And we're not agricultural. If it was just a plain noise complaint against us alone, we'd be laughing (probably - we're 95% electric flyers). But council planning have wind of it and slapped a 28 day rule on us.

Committee are doing what they can, in contact with BMFA, etc. Options are applying for full planning (meaning a change in use of agricultural land) or getting a certificate of lawful use made up.

I can't see planning happening. And sadly, the lawful use certificate needs 10 years of operation, as far as I can tell, and we're at 7 (I think).

Just wondered if there were any other experiences of similar situations out there?

Anyone else been messed about by planning and got away unscathed?

Bruce Collinson23/11/2018 13:55:11
576 forum posts


Bad news.

If there are no permanent buildings on the site specifically for your club's use and there have been no planning issues in 7 years, is planning permission really unlikely? Of course each matter will be dealt with on its own merits but if the planners didn't know about it previously it suggests that the club's use was scarcely obtrusive.

Planning departments generally are badly under-resourced and unlikely to pick fights against meritorious and assiduously pursued applications which comply with policy. Particularly if the agricultural land is not exclusively used by the club, as ours isn't with sheep free to roam, it may be possible to argue that the agricultural use has not been lost, it has merely been supplemented.

I'm wondering if you can do worse than invest the £500-odd it would take to get a good planning consultant to dig a bit deeper and determine whether a well constructed application has better than say 60-40 chance of success.

I can't answer your question directly and you may well be way ahead of me but nonetheless I hope this helps.


Stuart C23/11/2018 18:46:15
142 forum posts
4 photos

Have a look at Drones are in for crop dusting. Some enterprising farmer has established a flying club (training club) on a portion of his land - that's you, isn't it?

Paul Griffiths 223/11/2018 19:41:10
2 forum posts

Hi Nigel.

First off, don’t assume that you will not achieve your applications for planning permission.

We had similar naysayers at our Club whose crystal balls were off kilter as was proved 2 years later when we gained change of use!

Your committee will find Andy Symons at the BMFA (Club Liaison Officer) most helpful with all the right information to hand.

As far as planning consultants go, we found that the going rates for these guys can be eye wateringly heavy.

We negotiated a deal whereby the consultant supplied the ammo and the committee did the working of the AK7 so to speak. This more than halved the cost of a consultant.

Depending on what your guys feel that they can cope with, the consultant can take over the other bits.

There are quite a number of references on the web where guys have put up pages describing their experiences with the authorities and gaining some if not all of their requirements for a flying site.

Even “green belt” land is not sacrosanct, it is not unknown for flying clubs to occupy a prime agricultural field without too many onerous conditions.



Nigel R26/11/2018 16:36:30
4299 forum posts
716 photos

thanks gents, perhaps its not so bad, appreciate the suggestions - we have a monthly meet coming up hopefully with something positive to take home from!

Nigel R12/12/2018 15:04:04
4299 forum posts
716 photos

Quick update for anyone interested.

First - hats off to BMFA who were very helpful to committee on this.

Short version is, local planning rep met the committee, looked at the map and location of houses and so on. He lifted the 28 day rule - so we get to continue on the site - and advised us to apply for lawful use ASAP.

ASAP turns out to be this coming year, as, despite the club being on site now for 7 1/2 years with no complaints (i.e. a bit shy of the 10 year minimum for a lawful use application), the landowners son used to fly from the field for a couple of years before that (conveniently!)

The club is implementing a no-fly zone in the direction of the complainant which should help. A round of noise testing has been done and logged, and club rules regarding noise have been given a brush up too. So now any new IC models have to be under the usual 82db and have to be tested before being flown.

Many thanks again to BMFA.

john stones 112/12/2018 15:09:50
11779 forum posts
1521 photos

Hope all goes well Nigel. yes

Former Member12/12/2018 15:16:48
724 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Nigel R12/12/2018 15:52:24
4299 forum posts
716 photos

No arguments from me on that front STF.

Bob Cotsford12/12/2018 17:36:50
8852 forum posts
496 photos

Good news Nigel, we have planning permission for our club to fly from farmland but those who negotiated it some years ago stated in the application that we would operate an 80dBa limit. It didn't stop our local witch gentlelady from accusing us of operating jets a couple of years ago. Hmm, we actually fly within the circuit of our local international airport, I wonder what she had her hearing trumpet pointed at?

Bruce Collinson12/12/2018 19:54:19
576 forum posts

Great. A couple of thoughts spring to mind.

All you seem to need to do is prove that the son was flying regularly, preferably with a noisy 2 stroke, up to the time your club commenced operations.

Reading between the lines it does sound as though your planning officer is looking for accommodations rather than fights.

If the Cert of Lawful Use is likely to go to Committee/plans panel, start lobbying the key players to at least make them understand that you’re not a bunch of yobs in hoodies practicing drug runs to the local prison, nor practicing buzzing airliners; maybe invite them to a tightly orchestrated flying session. It’s a sad reflection on society that old fashioned ward councillors with a genuinely broad, holistic view of public good and policy seem to have been replaced by single-issue parochial individuals. Don’t overlook the Parish Council too, as they may have some right of consultation.

Keep meticulous records of noise testing. Paper trails make the world go round.

There was a post above referring to eye watering charges by planning consultants. If you have anyone at all with an interest in property, there’s usually a favour that can be called in on mate’s rates. Most self employed practitioners can be susceptible to a case of red.

Is there a case for BMFA to retain a planning consultant? Some of my suppliers have briefs which cover the UK and I’m not referring to multi office national firms at £250/ hour. A lot of their work is carried out remotely, checking stated policy, allocations etc. There’s scope for at least some enquiries. Loss of sites is likely to proliferate. Notwithstanding the astonishing reactions from (I sincerely hope) a minority of contributors on a recent thread about fees and the staggering opposition to a modest increase in BMFA levies, I am quite certain that this would be a sound investment.

Food for thought?


Nigel R12/12/2018 20:35:35
4299 forum posts
716 photos
Quite understand. I use a blooming google thing and it's just as bad.

Many thanks for suggestions. The lobbying seems a particularly fine plan.
Erfolg14/12/2018 18:22:13
11856 forum posts
1362 photos

I expect that Andy Symonds has probably the most experience in the UK with respect to the issue in general.

Again, he probably has at least a mental programme of what should be done and when. In reality I bet it is written down. Plus he no doubt has contacts with respect representation, with the optimal experience and knowledge.

There will be an appropriate time and process to invite those who are pertinent to a demonstration. Again it would seem that Andy Symonds is well placed to advice.

With all stages there will be a right time and wrong time for everything, that is where good bedrock of experience an knowledge is invaluable.

My own opinion is that for many sites close to domestic dwellings, electric, low noise clubs are the only way. Everything else can be so hedged with constraints, that even the most unreasonable complaint, becomes a real issue.

Old Geezer14/12/2018 20:09:06
670 forum posts

A couple of points primarily for information. Once a "noise sensitive" neighbour's aware of your activities, any two stroke bike, chain saw etc. that is run within earshot is automatically identified as a model plane - been there, done that. It is not unknown for local councillors (incomers usually ) to have got themselves onto the parish council with specific ambitions to reduce noise in the countryside - objections include running grain driers at night, silage blowers, chain saws, cows and/or ewes calling for their offspring when separated at weaning etc etc and don't forget church bells.

So if they can see you AND hear you, potentially you're toast.

Yet they all have Flymos and ride on mowers.

And a real corker - when I was Hon Sec of our club some 30 odd years ago the Environmental Health had a noise complaint from a single householder better than a mile away ( the other side of a low hill into the bargain ) - none of his neighbours, including a club member, had heard anything let alone complained to anybody. I made a point of accompanying the bloke from EH when he came out with his noise meter - nothing registered over ambient. We then went to see the complainer, partly as a courtesy, to inform him of the results and to find out what he felt was troubling him. Then light dawned - the gentleman explained that he had a deep rooted dislike of grown men playing with toy aeroplanes, and was hoping his complaint would cause us to cease and desist, at least anywhere near him. The field is still in use.



Edited By Old Geezer on 14/12/2018 20:11:50

Nightflyer14/12/2018 22:16:42
207 forum posts

Hi Nigel,

My club had a similar issue some 12 or so years back from a retired JP who lived some distance away and just objected to our flying and who passed away about 2 years into the fight to save the site. Our site was out in the country and model flying had been ongoing for some 20+ years although our own use of the same site was for about 9 years.

Environmental Health checked the noise and had no issue as local traffic and agricultural machinery was more prevalent, we also used the BMFA but sadly only on the grounds of not having been on the land for 10 years did we end up losing that site.

We ended up changing our policy to an electric only club and also changed name when we found a new site. Sadly it seems to be always an uphill struggle defending our flying sites regardless of whether one is in the right or wrong.

Erfolg15/12/2018 12:26:28
11856 forum posts
1362 photos

I quite agree with the issues raised by others with respect to noise and what is actually reasonable. Most of us are so old to recognise, that if pressure groups want something and you have a different opinion, you will have a phobia, or perhaps you have stated a fact that others dislike, that becomes an unacceptable view and or relegated to an opinion.

Like it or not, it is hard for us to win with respect to noise. However quite we may think our ICs are, or the odd high revving electric, they will be viewed as unacceptable, what ever the regulations may say.

Our opinions and views are irrelevant to the issues facing the loss of a field. The best that can be done is engage with the experience of the BMFA and its relevant officers.

A side issue, another service and example that can be flagged up (at an appropriate time) in the mag and repetition of this is what the BMFA actually does for us, beyond Insurance.

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