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07/08/2020

Appeal: Inspector upholds enforcement notice limiting helicopter flight hours

Words:
Helicopter

An enforcement notice limiting the hours a helicopter company can fly from its Leicestershire base has been upheld.

LOCATIONCostock, Leicestershire
AUTHORITYRushcliffe Borough Council
INSPECTORPH Willows
PROCEDUREWritten representations
DECISIONUpheld
REFERENCEAPP/P3040/C/19/3237156 

East Midlands Helicopters had challenged the enforcement notice issued by Rushcliffe Borough Council alleging breach of planning control for failing to comply with a condition which limited the business’s operations between 7am and 9pm each day except in an emergency. 

The notice alleged that the condition has not been met because helicopter flights to and from the land regularly occurred outside permitted hours. Inspector PH Willows said evidence in flight logs show the condition was breached each and every year between 2008 and 2019.

East Midlands Helicopters had argued there had never been any intention of complying with the condition. Consequently, the breaches over the years should be regarded as a single continuous breach rather than a series of individual infringements. 

The inspector said the first breach of the condition took place more than 10 years before the council served the enforcement notice. The breaches in the early years of the business were few and far between and Willows was not persuaded that they amounted to a single, continuous breach. 

The number of breaches per year were only five in 2009 and did not reach double figures until 2011, with 12 breaches. Moreover, the breaches took place irregularly, with significant periods of compliance in between with no record of any infringement during a six-month period between November 2010 and April 2011. 

When the condition was breached again in May 2011, that was a new infringement, in the inspector’s view, and the 10-year period started again. Accordingly, the 2019 enforcement notice was not out of time.

The appellant had suggested a condition to allow a limited number of flights between 9pm and 11.30pm each week. However, Willows concluded that flying after 9pm is likely to cause excessive disturbance and the proposed condition would leave open the possibility of “movement at late hours most days of the week”. 

The proximity of the site to a number of homes is such that flying hours need to be strictly controlled, Willows added. The existing condition offered an appropriate balance and for these reasons, the inspector upheld the notice.

The inspector’s decision – case reference 3237156 - can be read here

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