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Low-Flying Aircraft

Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the locations and dates of periods of covert monitoring of low-flying operations conducted by Royal Air Force police since 1974.

[pursuant to his reply, 4 December 1987, c. 736–37]: Records of locations where covert surveys of low-flying activity have been carried out only exist for July 1979 onwards. Thereafter, the available information is as follows:

Dates and locations of RAF Police covert observations 1979–87

Date and Location

1979

  • Peterborough area
  • Gaydon area
  • Newent
  • Isle of Wight
  • Liverpool/Manchester area
  • Pembray Range
  • Twycross Zoo

1980

  • Hartley
  • Isle of Skye
  • Unknown
  • Marchington
  • Glen-Pean
  • Cowden Range
  • Colbeck Transmitter Masts
  • Colchester
  • Sheffield area
  • Area between Bolton and Southport
  • Area between Nottingham and Birmingham
  • Area between Birmingham and London
  • North London
  • Brough area
  • Bewdley
  • Banbury

1981

  • Ashpark
  • Cranfield airfield
  • Lichfield
  • Plaish

3–7 August

  • Desborough
  • Cranfield airfield
  • Street

1982

  • Pontesbury
  • Shrewsbury
  • Otterburn Range
  • Spadeadam Range
  • East Riding General Hospital
  • Witnash

1983

  • Windermere
  • Ullswater
  • Burton-Constable
  • Hall
  • Yaxley
  • Stone, Staffordshire

25–29 July

  • Northants
  • Corby

1984

30 May-11 June

  • Harrogate

22–24 May

  • Watton
  • Oundle

9–10 May

  • Aberystwyth

5–7 June

  • Area between Birmingham and Thames Valley

6–7 September

  • Pickering

12–14 September

  • Newark on Trent

17–20 September

  • Stone

18–20 September

  • Saltford

25–27 September

  • Deans Hangar

1985

30–31 January

  • Rugby

19–21 February

  • Market Harborough

26–27 February

  • Newport, Gwent

5–6 March

  • St. Crispin Hospital, Northants

12–13 March

  • Rugby

26–27 March

  • Gorseinon

17 April

  • Brynamman, Wales

30 April-2 May

  • Sibson Airfield
  • Area between Cambridge and Newmarket
  • Area between RAF Leeming and Teesside
  • Holbeach

14–16 May

  • Kelso
  • Jedburgh
  • Duns

30 May

  • Lutterworth

14 June

  • Filey, Yorkshire
  • Area between Felixstowe and Ipswich
  • Area between Coningsby and Boston
  • Area between Cambridge and Newmarket

21–23 October

  • Teesside
  • Holbeach
  • Newmarket

5–6 December

  • Alnwick

1986

14–16 January

  • Broughton
  • Burton upon Stather
  • Burringham

21–22 January

  • Newport, Humberside

27–31 January

  • Carlisle
  • Bowness on Windermere
  • Hexham
  • Catterick

7–10 April

  • Windermere
  • Carlisle
  • Penrith
  • Morpeth
  • Hexham
  • Alnwick

22–24 April

  • Area between Leeming and Teesside
  • Area between Diss and Ipswich

6 June

  • Pocklington glider site

24–26 June

  • Weethley Hamlet

21–22 July

  • Leeds
  • Garforth

21–24 July

  • Builth Wells

21–24 July

  • Exmoor

30–31 July

  • Chirnside

4–8 August

  • Keswick
  • Barnard Castle

5–8 August

  • Carlisle
  • Lowther Castle
  • Catterick
  • Richmond
  • Withernsea

26–28 August

  • Redditch

23–25 September

  • West Ayton

24–26 September

  • Whitnash

8–9 October

  • Grimsby
  • Cleethorpes

8 October

  • East Riding Hospital

9 October

  • Area between Leeming and Teesside

29 October

  • Carperby

19–20 November

  • Rothwell

Late 1986/early 1987

  • Ashbourne

1987

16–18 March

  • Banham Zoo

7–9 April

  • Penrith
  • Morpeth
  • Amble

9 April

  • Alnwick

14–15 April

  • Pickering
  • Jed burgh

1 June

  • Peterborough

7–8 July

  • Redmile

21–24 July

  • Dumfries and Galloway

21–24 July

  • Builth Wells

4–6 August

  • Grindleford Bridge

4–6 August

  • Alnwick

5 August

  • Haltwhistle

19–20 August

  • Haxby

11–12 August

  • Leighton Hall, Carnforth

13–14 August

  • Castle Farm, Devon

15–17 September

  • Scarborough

21–25 September

  • Ettrick

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions since 1974 disciplinary proceedings have been instituted against pilots found to have been infringing low-flying regulations by Royal Air Force police involved in covert monitoring in low-flying areas, but where no complaints were received from the public.

[pursuant to his reply, 4 December 1987, c. 736–37]: Responsibility for disciplinary action against pilots found to have been infringing low-flying regulations by Royal Air Force police lies with the commanding officer at the appropriate RAF" station. Central records of the action taken by commanding officers in such cases are not kept.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Royal Air Force police, expressed as full-time equivalent staff, are currently assigned to covert field monitoring of low-flying aircraft; and what changes have taken place in these staffing levels since 1977.

[pursuant to his reply, 4 December 1987, c. 736–37]: Total hours of all RAF police personnel devoted to covert field monitoring of low-flying aircraft currently amounts to the equivalent of approximately one third to one half of a single full-time RAF policemen's job. Figures for 1977 are not available, but there has been a general increase in the number of covert observations carried out since 1979. We are currently reviewing the numbers of personnel devoted to covert and non-covert monitoring.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the practice of covert monitoring of low-flying by Royal Air Force police was introduced.

[pursuant to his reply, 4 December 1987, c. 736–37]: Covert monitoring of low-flying aircraft has been carried out by the RAF police at least since 1977.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the methods used by Royal Air Force police involved in covert monitoring of low-flying activity to assess height and speed of low-flying aircraft.

[pursuant to his reply, 4 December 1987, c. 736–37]: Covert monitoring of low-flying aircraft is carried out visually following the survey of a suitable site noting relative heights and distances of local landmarks. Teams of two RAF police are normally made up one experienced observer and one in training.