Low-flying Aircraft

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th November 1987.

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Photo of Mr Richard Livsey Mr Richard Livsey , Brecon and Radnor 12:00 am, 16th November 1987

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from farmers in Wales concerning the disturbance caused to livestock in Wales by low-flying aircraft.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

None. Complaints would normally be made direct to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

Photo of Mr Richard Livsey Mr Richard Livsey , Brecon and Radnor

Will the Minister make urgent representations to the Secretary of State for Defence to ban all low flying at 100 ft in Wales, as it is causing great suffering to people and animals? Will he press the point that farmers whose beef cows have aborted, which frequently happens as a result of low flying, should be fully compensated to the equivalent price of a nine-month-old suckle cow?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

Any claims for compensation arising from damage alleged to have been caused by aircraft activities should be submitted to the Ministry of Defence claims commission. The claims procedure has been agreed between the claims commission of the MOD, the agriculture departments and the farming unions. I cannot hold out any promise of banning low-flying aircraft, since that form of training is, of course, vital.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Clwyd North West

Of course, no one likes aircraft screaming over his head, but is it not some consolation to be able to look up and see that they do not carry red stars under their wings?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

My hon. Friend is quite right. Whenever people complain about low-flying aircraft to me, I ask the question, "Were they ours?"

Photo of Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas , Meirionnydd Nant Conwy

Will the Minister accept that at least one fifth of these aircraft are not ours—unless one regards the United States as part of his Department? Will he, therefore, take seriously the number of complaints from the farming community, in view of the information given to me by the Minister of Defence about the increased number of flights and the noise of aircraft? Will he support the call for a review of low-flying procedure, as it is 10 years since we last reviewed it?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence is well aware of the views of farmers and the hon. Gentleman on low-flying aircraft.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East

Does the Minister appreciate that not only livestock but people are deeply disturbed by these supersonic sorties above their homes? There have been terrible accidents, and pilots, aircrew and valuable jet planes have been lost. Is it not time for the Government to take heed of the multitude of protests that they have recieved and call a halt to these uncivilised exercises?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

The Welsh Office is responsible for many things, but defence is not one of them. These questions should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.