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Raf Manoeuvres

Volume 407: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 13 June 2003, Official Report, column 114W, on RAF manoeuvres, whether it is his policy to allow RAF aircraft to fly low over South East Essex on a regular basis.[121053]

It is Ministry of Defence policy that, in principle, the whole of the United Kingdom is open to essential military low flying training in order to spread the disturbance it can cause as thinly as possible. South East Essex, however, largely falls within an area known as the Thames Valley Avoidance Area (TVAA). The TVAA is excluded from routine military low flying because of the amount of controlled airspace associated with the London Airports, and the proximity of major built-up areas.Military low flying aircraft may still enter the TVAA on occasion, but these events will usually be limited to: helicopters conducting transit flights, helicopters conducting search and rescue training over water in the area of the Thames Estuary, or flights individually cleared by MOD Head Office. A small number of such clearances are granted each year, usually for flypasts in support of major state or ceremonial events.General information on military low flying is available to the public on the website www.mod.uk/issues/lowflying and in a leaflet entitled "Military Low Flying—An Essential Skill", that may be obtained by telephoning 020 7218 6020.