Restrictions at Bagby Airfield near Thirsk could hit racing, pilot claims (From The Advertiser Series)
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Restrictions at Bagby Airfield near Thirsk could hit racing, pilot claims
A PILOT claims that increased restrictions on flights from an airfield at the centre of a dispute could place the region’s horseracing industry under strain.
Dave Henderson is a commercial pilot responsible for flying many leading jockeys and trainers from horseracing centres such as Middleham and Malton to race meetings across the country and Europe.
The Local Government Ombudsman had recommended that Hambleton District Council considers making a discontinuation order, which would have closed Bagby Airfield, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, after residents claimed noise from flights operating at anti-social hours was causing distress.
But the council voted instead to increase enforcement action and reduce the number of flights.
Mr Henderson says if flights were to be forbidden before 9am, it would mean the region’s jockeys and trainers would have to spend much longer travelling to race meetings.
They can take part in several across Europe in a day by travelling in small jets.
Mr Henderson, who has been a pilot for 20 years, said: “The issue I have is that we fly for business, we’re not pleasure fliers.
“We support the racehorse industry in Thirsk.
Yorkshire is the third or second most important training centre in the UK.
“We have these top racing trainers like Richard Fahey and Kevin Ryan and all these world-class jockeys that have used Bagby for years.
“These guys go from Yorkshire in small planes to Paris and beyond in one day. Often we have to get these jockeys to, say, Paris for 10.30am French time, meaning we have to leave Bagby early in the morning.
“There’s a haulage company that sends trucks rattling through the village at 2am, or 3am. These trucks are rumbling through morning, noon and night, yet as soon as an aeroplane moves, everybody is up in arms.”
But Stephen Hornsby, from residents’ group Action for Refusal, challenged the claims, saying there were plenty of other airfields at the racing industry’s disposal.
“We’re tired of these scare stories,” he said.
“There is not one single job that would be affected by the residents’ amenities being respected. They can go to any of the nearby airfields which are not located within the village.
“North Yorkshire is littered with small airfields.”