Residents of Greete, near Ludlow, are protesting a plan to change land use near Rock Hill Farm from agriculture to sports and recreation, as the company behind the plan hit back accusing the opponents of “not being interested in the facts”. “.
The plan, filed by Frontline Events, is currently in a consultation period before the matter is decided by Shropshire Council.
And the locals took the opportunity to shoot the company’s bows to keep the plan away from them.
Objector Helen Whateley said: “Although the request for a change to ‘sports and recreation’ may seem innocuous, it is clearly not intended to be used for a game of cricket or soft hockey and is intended to be used for replica weapons, pyrotechnics and an invasion of peaceful rural lands to its detriment and disruption of residences and wildlife near the site.”
Residents also objected to increased traffic on the narrow country roads and said the extra noise and activity scares off local wildlife. They are also concerned that the plastic ammunition used in Airsoft events will damage the environment and injure people walking a trail through the site.
Objector James Holdsworth said: ‘It’s a ridiculous idea to plant this activity in placid, quiet countryside and thereby damage the quality of life of anyone living nearby.
Student Tom Whateley said: “We don’t want guns and explosives here, we want peace, quiet and a place where our native animals can live like us – in peace.”
But the company’s Danyal Davies provided a lengthy rebuttal of the opponents’ points, putting his “counter-arguments” to the opponents’ claims.
He told objectors that up to 100 war game players will have to use “biodegradable ammunition” which completely breaks down in five to seven months.
“All players on our site will be required to use biodegradable ammunition,” he said.
It also says they have a “range raid security order” which means “STOP, STOP, STOP!” will be called and all activity will cease until the area is cleared of non-participating people.
“It’s a fairly common occurrence at many Airsoft venues in the UK,” he said.
Mr Davies also addressed naysayers’ fears about noise and smoke.
“We were welcome to test pyrotechnics and Airsoft replicas for the sound on the field in question. No one came to complain during the two hours we were there,” he said.
“Having 100 people firing blanks is not acceptable, we agree. That’s why we don’t use blanks. We use Airsoft guns that register around 90-100 decibels, which is the same volume than an average radio or TV broadcast. . Smoke grenades and pyrotechnics can be of limited use, reducing noise pollution.”
The plan is available for public comment, on Shropshire Council’s planning portal, with reference number 22/03770/FUL