OWL'S LODGE SHOOTING GROUND
The Village Hall was packed for a meeting on 22nd October when Mr. Waters of Arup Acoustics explained the results of a noise test he had carried out for the Test Valley Borough Council and answered questions. The meeting was arranged by our two Test Valley councillors, Jim Neal and Andrew Dunnett and chaired by Alan Jones, the Chief Executive.

Mr Waters made three noise measurements on one day in September at Vale Farm and Southside Farm. The wind was light and south easterly. All six results were above the level where he considered that annoyance was unlikely. Three were towards the upper end of the range within which he considered that annoyance could occur and one was above the level where he considered that annoyance was highly likely. His recommendation was that the application for a shooting ground should be granted with conditions as to the number of hours per day and the number of days per year that shooting of different disciplines might take place.

He said that he had measured the noise from the Olympic Trench (the discipline in which Richard Faulds won his Olympic medal last year) and that it was less noisy than a sporting shoot. But in a later report he said that he had not made separate measurements and he was unable to produce results to support his view. In the supplementary report he changed his recommended maximum number of days shooting per year for the Olympic Trench from 365 to 150.

The date of the test had not been announced in advance and many residents did not hear it at all because they were away from the village. Some people who were at home on the day reported that the noise was very annoying. Longparish is a long parish and some (particularly those who lived further away from the test site) did not hear the test or did not find the noise very annoying.

Mr Waters said he had chosen not take background noise levels into account. He had also chosen not to take account of standards explained in an appendix to his report which would have pointed towards refusal. He accepted that noise levels would have been higher if the wind had been stronger but nonetheless he considered that the test was 'representative of a worst case situation'.

The Parish Council planning committee considered the matter at length the following week and decided to write to TVBC to ask for further information about matters where doubts had been raised. This would assist the whole council to consider the matter further at its meeting on 12th November. But when the Parish Council met to consider the matter again TVBC had not replied and at the time of writing (18 November) they had still not done so.

There was a well-attended open forum before the Parish Council meeting on 12 November when villagers had the opportunity to express their views. Both Bruce and Richard Faulds came which was very helpful. There were three main themes.

First, people were concerned that the village had not been consulted about what tests there would be or told when the test would take place. They would, for example, have wanted tests on more than one day and measurements to be made at the school. Mr Faulds did not want further testing. He said that there had been 8 tests over the years and that was enough from his point of view.

Second, people were concerned about the test methods and the standard Mr. Waters had decided to use when making his recommendations.

Third, the four parishioners who had heard the test had found the noise very intrusive. They were certain they would find the noise annoying if the application was granted and others were frightened that they too would be distressed by the noise if the application is granted.

The Parish Council considered the matter at length and decided to object to the application. At the time of writing we understand that the Test Valley Northern Area Planning Committee will consider the application at their meeting at 5.30 on Thursday 6th December at Beech Hurst, Weyhill Road, Andover. That meeting will be open to the public.

This is a brief summary of a considerable amount of information and discussion. If you would like to find out more or to see the various reports and documents, please do give me a ring on 720459.

Jeremy Barber (Chairman)