Have your say on the use of Keevil Airfield for Watchkeeper Remotely Piloted Aircraft

We are now midway through the main consultation period for the MOD Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) that seeks to allow the 47th Regiment Royal Artillery (47RA) to use Keevil Airfield for training operations of Watchkeeper Remotely Piloted Aircraft. The closing date is Wednesday 24th August, so if you haven’t had a chance to attend a presentation or have your say yet, there’s still plenty of time. And please do take the time to submit your feedback – all responses are really important so that the Civil Aviation Authority, who is the ultimate arbiter of airspace, can fully appreciate how the local community feels.

Facebook video of Watchkeeper in trials on Keevil Airfield last year

At the Parish Council meeting on 4th July, members of 47RA Project Team presented to Councillors and members of the public present, and the following points are noted in the draft minutes:

  • The importance of the airfield’s proximity to Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) as a vital training facility.
  • In the event of system failure the aircraft could glide back to the airfield;
  • Normal operational hours would be as a standard working day, with launches to SPTA usually late morning, returning late afternoon, mostly summer months/weekdays (not necessarily every weekday, or every week). Occasional night flying or operational ‘surges’ (communicated in advance), most likely in association with multi-agency SPTA activity;
  • Of the four options, the first Option 2 Design 1 was their preference as it provided a large enough airspace to allow room for manoeuvre to minimize the impact on community and residents as well as keeping the impact on local air traffic as small as possible.  It also gave them the flexibility to vary the flying route to the SPTA, avoiding permanent residences.
  • Wiltshire Air Ambulance have no issue with the proposals and the Gliding Club would continue. Some of the existing helicopter activity may also continue.

As a result, the Parish Council agreed to wholly support Option 2 Design 1. They felt this option is the most beneficial to our community in terms of impact on residents and the environment because it offers the most flexibility to 47th Regiment Royal Artillery, whilst minimising any impact on other airspace users. Feedback to this effect has been placed on the CAA consultation portal via Citizen Space.

There are two engagement events remaining:

  • Tomorrow TUESDAY 19th July, there is a Roadshow all afternoon in Steeple Ashton Village Hall from 1-5pm – no booking required, just turn up.
  • On THURSDAY 21st July, there is a Virtual Meeting online via Teams at 6.30pm. No booking required, links to the meeting can be found on Citizen Space, scroll down to where it says ‘Virtual Meetings’.

Some notes to help you submit your feedback online via Citizen Space

  • As a result of stakeholder feedback and other considerations, four Airspace Design Options remain.
  • The form will ask you to rank these in order of preference, so it’s worth reading at least the Options Appraisal: scroll to the bottom of the page where you will find links to the full list of consultation documents.
  • When you’re ready to complete your feedback, scroll to around the middle of the page where you see the boxed link to the feedback form:
  • You will be asked for your name, whether you’re an individual or representing a group, email address, and your relationship to the proposals. On the next page you’ll be asked to select your preferred Option.
  • You will also be asked to rank all the options in order of preference (with your most preferred option at 1 and least preferred at 4)
  • If you wish to add additional reasons for your preference, you can do this in section 8. or 9.  For example, the Parish Council used this space to enter points agreed at its meeting:

At the end, you will be asked if you wish your response to be publicly available. If you say yes to this, your personal information won’t be published as your name and email address are automatically redacted.

You’ll get an email confirmation once you’ve submitted your feedback, also containing a link to a PDF copy of your responses.

If online feedback forms aren’t your thing…

Whilst feedback should be submitted directly on Citizen Space in the first instance, you can also provide feedback by completing Annex A on page 25 of the Consultation document and submitting in the following ways:

  • Electronically via email: 47RA-Project-LOVERIDGE@mod.gov.uk
  • Hard copies via post to: FAO Project LOVERIDGE lead; Regimental Operations Officer, 47th Regiment Royal Artillery,  Horne Barracks, LARKHILL, Wiltshire, SP4 8QE

You can also ask for hard copies of any of the documentation by emailing 47RA-Project-LOVERIDGE@mod.gov.uk with a postal address. Additionally, hard copies of consultation material will be provided at physical events.

More about Watchkeeper and 47 RA – and their Facebook page here.

2 thoughts on “Have your say on the use of Keevil Airfield for Watchkeeper Remotely Piloted Aircraft

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