'Aircraft will disturb birds'

PUBLISHED: 17:17 17 May 2006 | UPDATED: 09:18 24 May 2010

WILDLIFE chiefs have had their feathers ruffled by plans by a model aircraft club to increase its flying activities at its base near Portishead. Avon Model Radio Aero Club has applied for planning permission to turn a former tip site at Weston Drove, Wes

WILDLIFE chiefs have had their feathers ruffled by plans by a model aircraft club to increase its flying activities at its base near Portishead. Avon Model Radio Aero Club has applied for planning permission to turn a former tip site at Weston Drove, Weston-in-Gordano, into a model flying site.The club, which has more than 50 members, has been flying from the 10-acre site for up to 28 days a year for the past three years, without needing planning permission.The site is located within the green belt and within 300 metres of the Gordano Valley site of special scientific interest and 160 metres away from Avon Wildlife Trust's Clapton Moor Reserve.Avon Wildlife Trust has 'strongly objected' to the application, claiming the small aircraft will disturb wading birds nesting nearby.Trust chiefs also said the planes will frighten away other birds from the area.Avon Wildlife Trust biodiversity advisory officer Mary Wood said: "The club already uses the 28-day rule to fly from the site and if we'd had the opportunity, we would have objected to that."The Gordano Valley is a site of international importance for breeding waters and overwintering wildfowl."Any kind of disturbance can result in the birds deserting the area."We are also concerned the birds will think the planes look like large hawks and, as a result, will flee the site."We also have two nature reserves nearby and this area should be available to all to enjoy the local wildlife."The trust also says the nesting season for wading birds, which is March to June, is the same time as the aero modellers like to fly their craft.Avon Model Radio Aero Club secretary Pete Viner said: "We only fly within the curtilage of our own site and do not go over the nature reserves."We have improved the site, which was once a disused tip and North Somerset has now included it as a nature reserve."We would be happy with a one year planning permission and for a study to be carried out to see if there is an impact on wading birds."North Somerset Council planning officers are recommending a one-year planning consent be agreed subject to a number of conditions.These include not allowing more than four aircraft to fly at any one time and restrictions on the weight and wingspan of models.North Somerset north area planning committee is due to discuss the application at a meeting tomorrow (Thurs).

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