Carmarthenshire Residents Treated as Test Subject for Low Flying Training

Plaid Cymru have called on the Conservative-Lib Dem Westminster government to rethink its policy on low-flying training in UK air space, and for immediate steps to be taken to tackle the severe health dangers linked to the practise.

For a number of years Plaid Cymru politicians in the county have been campaigning against the practice, which disproportionately takes place across Carmarthenshire in comparison to other areas of the UK. Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM and Jonathan Edwards MP say that their office is routinely contacted by concerned constituents who have a range of complaints from health issues, noise issues and the damaging impact it has on livestock.

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM and MP were left angry after recent information gathered by the parties Westminster leader, Elfyn Llwyd MP, revealed that low flying activity had increased by 11% in the past year at the same time the Westminster government, under the previous Labour administration, had agreed to allow sixteen different countries, including Germany, to use UK airspace to carry out low-flying training at no cost.

Jonathan Edwards MP has now formally requested a parliamentary debate on the matter to discuss the health issues relating to the military training.

Jonathan Edwards MP said:

“This is a major issue in the county. I am appalled that instead of looking at the detailed impact that low flying activity has on the health of county residents, the Westminster government, under Labour previously and now continued by the ConDem coalition, have actually been increasing the frequency of these flights. What is worse they have allowed other nations, including Germany who have ceased low flying in their own country on health grounds, to use Welsh residents as test subjects.”

Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM added:

“For years I have been speaking to constituents who have endured a great deal of stress as a result of low flying activity in the county. Residents, especially the more elderly and vulnerable in our communities, are often left at their wits end as a result of the frightening noise these flights create. There are also serious questions about the damaging health aspects, specifically with hearing problems, which is a big concern when dealing with young children.”

Commenting, Elfyn Llwyd MP said:

“We must have an urgent rethink of this situation. More jets than ever before are now being trained and in no way are the people of north and mid Wales being compensated for this.

In my constituency, a high percentage of those who were children in primary schools there, now have problems with hearing.

Professor Ising persuaded the German Government to cease on health grounds. Where does the Luftwaffe train their low flying pilots now? Over UK air space. At no cost to them – but at a cost to the hearing of UK taxpayers!

When will the UK government stop treating the people of Wales with such contempt and do something about the intrusion and the damage to health?

The UK government should show the same respect towards people as the German government has shown over this issue.”


Nodiadau / Notes:

1. In a letter to Elfyn Llwyd dated 14th July 2004, Ivor Caplin MP (then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans) said:

“Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply the noise suppression methods used for civil aircraft without an unacceptable loss of operational capability.”

“Should new research provide evidence of a credible link between military low flying and adverse health effects then we would of course, consider what changes could be made to our operations.”

2. Recent parliamentary question by Lord Corbett:

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Which air forces, other than the Royal Air Force, are allowed to carry out low-flying training in United Kingdom air space; how many nations have done so; and what charges are levied for the use of those facilities.

Under Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Astor of Hever:

The Ministry of Defence does not charge foreign air forces to use the UK Low Flying System, but permits them to do so on the basis of reciprocal agreements.

The nations that have used the UK Low Flying System are Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and USA.

3. Written Statement (19th July 2010) from the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Andrew


“The amount of low flying training carried out in the UKLFS during the training year 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 was … [i]n comparative terms, … an increase of 5,632 hours, or approximately 11 per cent on the previous training year due to operational pre-deployment training for both fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and the continuing introduction of Typhoon into service.”

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