MP concern at 157% increase in low-flying aircraft operations

Greatest level of military activity in the last five years

A long-standing opponent of the militarisation of Wales, Jonathan Edwards MP, has expressed grave concern at the sharp increase in the number of low-flying aircrafts operating over west Wales – officially known as the Welsh Military Tactical Training area.

Information obtained by the Plaid Cymru MP through Parliamentary questioning has revealed the number of flights operating below 250 feet has more than doubled to 54 in 2012/13 from 21 in 2011/12 – an increase of 157 per cent.

The duration of flights above Carmarthenshire households has increased by 111 per cent as a consequence of more activity, from 17 hours in 2011/12 to 36 hours in 2012/13.

Low-flying operations within the training area is the greatest level of activity within any of the last five years. Astonishingly, the Ministry of Defence does not hold information on flight activities by overseas aircrafts.

Responding the revelations, Jonathan Edwards MP said:

“Well before my election to the House of Commons I was actively campaigning against the militarisation of Wales. I oppose what military training over Carmarthenshire skies represents, and I am anxious for my constituents who endure the effects of the low-flying aircrafts.

“Low-flying is cold war military tactic aimed at avoiding radar. This activity is not relevant to the sort of military operations the RAF finds itself performing in post-cold war conflicts. Most other NATO members have banned low-flying operations over populated areas.

“I have grave concerns that military operations have more than doubled in the twelve months and has reached the greatest level of activity in any of the last five years.

“I am particularly concerned that no information is held on how many overseas air force pilots are using our skies. UK arms manufacturers sell military hardware to despotic regimes around the world. We should therefore know exactly whether the RAF itself is conducting these activities or whether they are linked to aircraft sales to foreign countries.

“There is evidence linking low-flying activities to cardiovascular conditions and hearing loss. I believe health studies should be carried out in relation to Wales Tactical area, and will be questioning the UK government to that effect in the coming weeks.”

ENDS

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