Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 15:40 UK

Horse breeder sues MoD over jets

Tornado jet
Ms King said her horses were regularly startled by jets

A horse breeder is suing the Ministry of Defence for 100,000 after claiming that low-flying military aircraft near her home have made life "intolerable".

Alyson King, 47, of Carsphairn, in Dumfries and Galloway, told the Court of Session that animals at her stables were regularly startled and bolted.

Counsel for the MoD, which contests her claim, said it made major efforts to limit the impact of training flights.

A decision on the procedural hearing in the case will be given at a later date.

Ms King, an expert in breeding Black Arab stallions, maintains her 11 horses have been injured and one stallion has been so affected by the repeated fright that his black coat has turned white in patches.

The twists and turns of the lochs and glens of the south west of Scotland provide an excellent training ground for the RAF
Andrew Webster
MoD counsel

She alleges that the RAF planes are flying at just above the tree line and are operating in breach of the MoD's own guidelines for low-flying training.

"Without the jets I absolutely love my home," she said.

"There are 2,000 acres of empty forest behind my property.

"Do they have an absolute right to commit a nuisance when there is an alternative?"

She said in her action against the MoD that she had suffered repeated injuries when horses took fright.

"A horse is a flight animal," she said.

"It has absolutely no control over its central nervous system.

"They just bolt."

Court of Session sign
The procedural hearing in the case was held at the Court of Session

She claims in her action that a reasonable estimate is that there are now 30 incidents of low-flying aircraft passing over her property a month.

She said a request for an avoidance order, which would have kept planes out of the airspace above her home, was rejected.

Ms King lives in one of the three areas of Britain designated as Tactical Training Areas for the air force where operational low-flying is allowed at 100 ft.

She claims that, by flying at just above the tree line, planes are operating in breach of the guidelines.

The MoD denies this.

Counsel for the ministry, Andrew Webster, said: "The operational requirements of the air force require the fidelity of training that comes from low level flights.

"Simulator training is not a comprehensive alternative to actual hands-on experience of low level flying."

'Large issues'

He said considerable effort was made to spread such training across the UK and minimise the impact.

However, he said certain areas provided special benefits.

"The twists and turns of the lochs and glens of the south west of Scotland provide an excellent training ground for the RAF," he told the court.

The judge, Lord Woolman, will give a written decision on the procedural debate at a later date.

"This case throws up some large issues which I will have to consider carefully," he said.


SEE ALSO
Military's crucial 'eye in the sky'
05 Jun 08 |  Science/Nature
Major low-flying exercise begins
17 Sep 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Farmers 'miss' low-flying claims
13 Sep 06 |  North West Wales

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