§ 22. Mr. Geraint Howells
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent consultations his Department has had with the National Farmers Union, the Scottish National Farmers Union and the Farmers Union of Wales concerning compensation for the effects of low-flying aircraft.
§ Mr. Freeman
Officials met representatives of the National Farmers Union, the Scottish National Farmers Union and the Farmers Union of Wales during 1987 as part of my Department's review of procedures for dealing with compensation claims from farmers whose livestock may have been affected by low-flying military aircraft. Discussions have continued since then, and regular contact is also maintained between my Department's officials and the farmers' unions on a case-by-case basis.
§ Mr. Freeman
As my hon. Friend will be aware, training in the crucial techniques of row flying is vital if we are to maintain an effective modern air force capable of maintaining our security by deterring any potential aggressor. None the less, we are acutely aware of the disturbance this essential activity may cause on the ground and will continue to do all we can to keep this to an absolute minimum. In fact, low-flying aircraft activity during 1987 was marginally lower than during 1986, a trend particularly marked in the low-flying administrative area which comprises most of East Anglia and parts of Lincolnshire, which experienced approximately 24,000 movements compared with just over 32,000 the previous year.