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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Couple win jet noise claim
Darby and Catherine Dennis
Darby and Catherine Dennis outside the High Court on Wednesday
A couple have been awarded compensation of 950,000 over noise created by RAF Harrier jets above their 17th Century listed house.

Farmer Darby Dennis, 51, and his wife Catherine, 46, said the noise from the planes flying over Walcot Hall, near Stamford, Lincolnshire, was "unbearable".

They said it had affected their domestic and commercial activities and had claimed 9m in compensation.

However, the couple failed in their bid to stop planes flying over from nearby RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire.

Mr Dennis said after the ruling there was "light at the end of the tunnel" for them as the noisy Harrier jets may be replaced by quieter planes.

Persistent noise

"Maybe after a few more years of Harriers, we will have some relative peace and quiet.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel not just for us, but for other people in similar situations."

Mr Justice Buckley, speaking at London's High Court on Wednesday, said the level of noise was a "very serious interference" with the ordinary enjoyment of the property whether judged from inside or outside the house.

Harrier jet
The planes fly over the house when they are coming in to land
He said it was a level of noise exacerbated by its persistence and unpredictability.

Ruling that a nuisance was established, he said that the public interest nevertheless clearly demanded Wittering should continue to train pilots.

The court heard that harriers were exceptionally noisy aircraft and visitors to the hall often asked how the family could stand it.

It was also claimed the house and estate had lost millions of pounds in value and missed out on corporate entertainment and film location income.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) disputed the figures claimed and also its liability.

A spokeswoman for the MoD said afterwards she was aware of plans to appeal against the decision and that training sessions would continue as usual.

"We have to continue training. We regret any disturbance to anyone. We will try to conduct it with minimum noise."

The BBC's June Kelly
"The amount fell short of the 9m they asked for"

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22 Mar 02  |  England

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