Residents welcome enforcement action against airfield owners

ENFORCEMENT action has been served against the owners of an historic North Yorkshire airfield for a host of alleged offences which residents say have been blighting their lives for years.

Harrogate Council has served six enforcement notices against the owners of Marston Moor airfield, Tockwith, near Wetherby, including improper use of the site to race and test high-performance cars and go-karts, dumping tyres and scrap vehicles and using it as a bus depot.

The news has been welcomed by residents who have been fighting a long battle against the use of the Second World War airfield, where the Hollywood actor Clark Gable was reportedly based alongside the legendary Dambusters commander and Victoria Cross holder Captain Leonard Cheshire.

The owners of the site now have until May 17 to appeal the enforcement notice, or comply within three months.

Coun John Savage, who represents the area on North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Council, said: “I am delighted that the council has finally taken action.

“Residents are absolutely fed up with this, the noise from the site is terrible, it can be heard all over Tockwith.

“There have been really high performance cars being raced around there and mountains of tyres have been dumped. I am 100 per cent behind the enforcement action, this has been going on for too long.”

The Tockwith Residents Association, Bilton with Bickerton Parish Council and Tockwith with Wilstrop Parish Council have joined forces against the site claiming the noise pollution has become a blight on residents’ lives.

Brian Smythe, chair of Bilton with Bickerton Parish Council, said: “These are activities that have no planning permission and the resulting noise has been impacting on residents across the area.

“For residents on the edge of the airfield, it has been intolerable.

“That Harrogate Council has moved to serve these papers is a huge step forward.

“Hundreds of residents are against this.”

One resident in his 60s, who did not want to be named but whose family have lived in a home half a mile away from the airfield since 1972, said: “This has blighted the lives of a lot of people around here.

“The noise has increased significantly in recent years.

“Recently there has been racing of high performance cars and it affects everyone in the surrounding villages because the noise is so loud with squealing tyres – it has basically become a racing track.

“There are huge mounds of tyres just dumped throughout the airfield – I would guess up to 20,000 – and also lots of cars that appear to be stored on the site that are past their useful sell-by date.

“This action by the council would improve our lives dramatically.”

The notices cover the removal of scrap motor vehicles and tyres dumped without planning permission, the racing and testing of motor vehicles to be ceased and the track to be removed, the cessation of the site as a bus depot, and the removal of go-karting tracks.

Simon Moore, operator of the site, said he was planning to appeal the enforcement notices.

“The majority of residents do not have a problem with the site”, he said.

“The ‘scrap’ cars they are talking about are used to train the ambulance service and police.

“The whole site is covered by planning permission for the same activity.

“It has been quieter for the past eight or nine years.”