Breakthrough hope over 'insufferable' military plane noise

Handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of F35B Lightening jets returning to HMS Queen

F35 Lightning jets from RAF Marham-based 617 "Dambusters" Squadron are among the aircraft on board the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. - Credit: POPhot Jay Allen/Ministry of Defence/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

The long-standing issue of "insufferable" noise from military aircraft over Norfolk is set to be discussed by the government and a local MP.

Defence minister Jeremy Quin promised to talk to North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker, after Mr Baker told the Commons he had been "inundated" with concerns from residents.

Mr Baker said military aircraft noise was something which "caused a lot of anxiety".

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. Picture: Supplied by Duncan Baker

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker - Credit: Duncan Baker

And in a question to Mr Quin, he said: "My office has been inundated with concerns from residents about low-flying military aircraft all over north Norfolk. 

"Let me be the first to understand why we need military training to keep us safe, but would the minister meet with me to discuss further how we can allay these concerns?" 


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Mr Quin said he would be happy to discuss the issue, and added: "We need to keep our brave air crews safe from harm as they go out every day to keep us safe.

"They get to that level of proficiency through training."

Defence minister Jeremy Quin.

Defence minister Jeremy Quin. - Credit: Official portrait for MH Government / Richard Townshend Photography

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Military aircraft operate from several bases in Norfolk and Suffolk, including the RAF's F35 Lightning IIs at RAF Marham, and US Air Force Strike Eagles at RAF Lakenheath.

Their presence in Norfolk skies has even been felt by the Queen when she is in residence at Sandringham. 

The Queen visited the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth at the weekend ahead of an overseas deployment which will include the Marham-based jets.   

Captain Angus Essenhigh (left), Commodore Steve Moorhouse (second from left) and Queen Elizabeth II

Captain Angus Essenhigh (left), Commodore Steve Moorhouse (second from left) and Queen Elizabeth II (centre) on the flight deck during a visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth at HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, ahead of the ship's maiden deployment. - Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

Strike group commander Commodore Steve Moorhouse said the Queen told him she was was looking forward to some peace and quiet when the planes were away.

He said: "It wasn't lost on her they are from Marham, just down the road from Sandringham, so she hears them regularly, so she was just relieved to see them go to sea and get a little peace over her."

A USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath. Photograph Simon Parker

A USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath.  - Credit: Archant

An RAF spokesman said they were unable to comment on the exchange in parliament, but said some aviation disturbance would always be present - at least while aircraft were going to and from training areas over the North Sea. 

They said it was not possible to provide advance warning of all routine military training flights, but an effort was made to publicise night flying activities and details of major exercises were published online.

The RAF said complaints about low flying aircraft were taken seriously, and complaints could be made online at www.gov.uk/low-flying-in-your-area.

U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath flying over the Scottish mountains

U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles are based at RAF Lakenheath. - Credit: Staff Sgt Rachel Maxwell

A spokesperson from RAF Lakenheath said: “We do conduct a lot of training, and all our training is all in accordance with the MoD and UK airspace regulations.

"We always keep the community in mind and try to have the most minimal impact possible.”

'Insufferable' noise: One couple's experience. 

Barbara and Melvin Wright, who have lived in Briston for 22 years, said noise from military aircraft had become "insufferable". 

Mrs Wright said: "It has improved slightly, but in general it has been horrendous over the past 12 months. Since Covid really, they seem to be making use of the empty skies and flying very low for hours on end, and it goes on until quite late at night sometimes."

She said it was not only jets, but also larger propeller-powered aircraft which seemed to "drone around". 

Mr Wright said he understood aircrew needed to train, but the noise had become more frequent. 

He said: "They never used to do this, that's the point. It used to be just on Tuesday and we could prepare for that, but now it's five days a week and it has become insufferable."

Mr Wright said there should be a public forum so more attention was brought to the issue. 
 

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