|Urgent Action||12 August 2000|
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TAG and MoD are trying to pull a fast one. MoD are attempting to use their reserve powers, Land Powers (Defence) Act (1958), to cut down trees in the flight path at the eastern end of Farnborough Airfield, ie within residential Farnborough. This is an area very approximately bounded by Church Road East and Canterbury Road, and an undetermined distance the other side of Farnborough College of Technology. Virtually all the trees in the college grounds will be destroyed. [see aerial map held by Rushmoor]
MoD are effectively trail blazing for TAG. TAG lacks these reserve powers. It is incumbent upon the MoD to show that it is in the national interest to destroy these trees, otherwise MoD is abusing its powers.
A number of questions are raised. If it is now unsafe, ie the trees are an obstruction, then when did it become unsafe? For what type of aircraft? Are we now talking of heavier aircraft? TAG has finally admitted it wants to bring in heavier aircraft and is already saying it will not accept the weight limit of 50 tonnes set in the modified Local Plan, this was even before the ink had dried and the modified Local Plan had been formally adopted.
If the trees are a safety issue, then restrictions should be imposed on flying with immediate effect. Until such time as the TAG application is considered, until such time as CAA may choose to licence the operation which may impose conditions on trees projecting into the flight path there is no requirement to destroy a single tree.
Any landowner may say no. This then requires a public inquiry which may take up to year to reach a decision. Until such time as it is possible to cut down all the trees that may constitute a legal nuisance by projecting into the flight plane there is no need to destroy a single tree.
MoD estimate 135 affected trees of which 50 may be felled, 83 have TPOs, 11 are on the public highway. An aerial map is available from Rushmoor showing the affected trees. Destroying the trees will not only destroy a visual amenity and wildlife habitat, it will also remove noise screening. Where landowners have agreed, destruction of trees has already begun.
At a Rushmoor planing meeting (9 August 2000) thick-as-two-short-planks councillors gave the go-ahead to cut down trees on the public highway, and to waive the protection given by TPOs. Misleading advice was given to the meeting by council officials. Councillors have agreed to monitor the situation, ie they will sit back and watch our trees being destroyed.
It is planned to start destroying trees on the public highway from 15 August 2000. Only direct action will protect these trees. If local people want to protect these trees they will have to physically obstruct the tree destroyers either by encircling the trees or occupying the trees.
Direct action is the only protection left for the trees at the western end of the runway - beside the Basingstoke Canal and beyond on the heathland.
For a more detailed account see BVEJ newsletter #0003 August 2000.
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