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 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 13:05 GMT
Military 'sorry' over dog trial noise
Sheep dog
Officials of the World Sheepdog Trials have received an apology
Military officials are thinking about changing rules on low flying after an incident which disrupted the World Sheepdog Trials in north Wales.

Royal Air Force officials at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have apologised to organisers of the prestigious event, held in Bala in September.

Plans are now being made to change the height at which aircraft can fly when such events are taking place.

We accept that the event was disturbed and we have reviewed the arrangements

Ministry of Defence

Organisers of the World Sheepdog Trials had lodged an official complaint against the MoD after they alledged that the event was disrupted after a Tornado F3 flew overhead.

Those involved in the prestigious contest said the enjoyment of competitors and spectators was marred by the incident and that the performances of many of the dogs had been affected.

An MoD letter said the aircraft was flying at more than 2,000 feet and so was not encroaching on the avoidance zone granted for the trials.

The letter went on: "Despite the findings, by the Defence Flying Complaints Investigation Team of the RAF Police, we accept that the event was disturbed and we have reviewed the arrangements that we make when granting temporary avoidance.

Tornado
A Tornado jet caused the disruption

"With a handful of exceptions, it has been standard practice for many years to issue all temporary avoidance to a maximum height of 2000 feet.

"Following this incident we have concluded that this arrangement is not always sufficient and we will in future consider extending the height for events such as this where additional protection is considered appropriate.

Organisers said the MoD had previously given assurances that low-flying exercises would be suspended during the contest.

The disruption happened on the opening day of the World Sheepdog Trials, which attracted 130 dogs from 13 countries.

Re-run granted

Organisers say a member of the French contingent was forced to abandon her qualifying routine as the jet flew overhead.

She was granted a re-run following consultations with the International Sheep Dog Society.

Annie Le Roux, 42, of Roscoff, Brittany, said: "I was very disappointed when I was interrupted by the jet.

"It was enough to make Ladji the dog disorientated and he failed to perform to form on the second attempt."

Despite the noise, organisers hailed the opening day of the event an overwhelming success with more than 2,000 people converging on the Rhiwlas estate for the qualifying rounds.

See also:

08 Aug 02 | England
15 Aug 02 | England
21 Dec 02 | England
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