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Helicopters Flying From Land Near You
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Sheila Lawes appeared on TV in Spring 2007 in the "Neighbour From Hell" programme.  Her neighbour was regularly flying his helicopter from and into his property, much to the disturbance of Sheila's family and others in the vicinity.  Here's what she learned, and passes on, not as a legal eagle, but as a common sense, practical guide to others similarly affected.

What To Do If A Helicopter Starts To Fly From Land Near You

Planning Issues 


1)      Immediately start keeping records of all activity relating to the helicopter (see Keeping Records below). Ask anyone else who is affected to do the same

2)      If you don’t already know, find out who owns the land and who owns the helicopter (if different).

3)      If necessary, ask around about the history of the land. If land has been used for more than 10 years for a purpose other than the original use, it maybe that a ‘change of use’ is automatically granted.

4)      Make a note of the helicopters 6 digit registration number (for UK registered machines this number will start with a ‘G’ followed by 4 numbers then another letter).  This will come in useful for formally identifying the helicopter to the authorities.

5)      Find out what the land is used for (this may sound obvious but just because someone uses land as their garden, it doesn’t mean that it is!)   

                      a)    If the helicopter is flying from a field it is likely that it may only be used for this purpose for up to 28 days per calendar year without planning permission. The 28 days' use relates to siting of the helicopter

                       b)    If however it is being flown from the curtilage (garden) of someone’s house this is treated as ‘incidental to the main purpose of the dwelling house’ and it is possible that your local planning authority will not be able to act. However see 4)

6)      Have any buildings or ‘engineering works’ (hard surface for landing or landing lights) been erected?

7)      Contact your Local Planning Authority (usually your District Council) and start asking questions.  Give them the details you have collated.

8)      Depending on the outcome of your conversation with the LPA, put your complaint in writing (and consider copying it to your local MP).  Encourage others to do the same.

9)      There are a number of possible outcomes from your conversation with the LPA

¨    If the land is a field or paddock (or possibly business premises) the LPA may issue an Enforcement Notice against the landowner (and the helicopter owner/user if different) once the 28 days are breached.

¨    If a building or hard-standing (landing strip) or landing lights have been erected it is possible that planning permission may be required.  This may apply even if the land is within the curtilage of someone’s house.

¨    The LPA may inform you that planning permission has already been given or is not needed. In this case you probably need to go down the noise nuisance route. Be aware that the LPA will allow the owner of the land to apply to retrospective Planning Permission for ‘Change of Use’ if they wish to continue using a field as a helicopter landing site/storage facility. In this case you and others will have the opportunity to present your objections in accordance with the planning regulations.You could of course foreshorten all this by talking to the perpetrator direct. Reasonable pilots have been known to ease up on their activities if approached in the proper way. However if this fails you can still pick up the process at a later date.

Keeping Records

¨    Take photographs, if this can be done without trespassing, particularly of any structures, lights or hard-standing. ‘Before and after’ photo’s are ideal but not always possible. 

¨    Keep a record of;¾  The dates on which the helicopter is sited on the land¾  The dates and times when the helicopter is used (including the time the engine is started up and when it takes off and the time you hear it returning and landing)¾  Any other activities relating to use of the helicopter (e.g. use of a generator)¾  Any other implications of the helicopters use (e.g. smell, invasion of privacy etc.).

¨    Consider videoing any activity that impedes on your or other people’s enjoyment of their property. Do this as discreetly as possible (always video the helicopter, not the people inside and try to video inside your own property).  All pilots have to comply with the Rules of the Air (visit the British Helicopter Advisory Board website for more details www.bhab.flyer.co.uk) for details) If you believe the helicopter pilot has breached these, contact the Civil Aviation Authority. You will need to supply evidence of the breach (photos, witness statements etc.).

Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 September 2007 )
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