Newmarket racehorses ‘under threat’ from Stansted expansion

10.6.2008     (Times)

Alistair Watson chariman of Lanwades Stud near Newmarket,Suffolk who is against the expansion of Stansted airport


Leading figures in Britain’s horse racing industry are threatening to move their
animals overseas because of plans for more than 400 aircraft a day to circle over
their stud farms.

National Air Traffic Services (Nats) is proposing to create a new holding stack
near Newmarket, Suffolk, for aircraft queueing to land at Stansted. The stack
is one of two being created to cope with a large expansion of the Essex airport.

Stansted handles about 190,000 flights a year at present. BAA, the Spanish-owned
company that runs the airport, wants to increase that number initially to 260,000
on the existing runway and then to open a second runway in 2015, raising total
capacity to more than half a million flights a year.

Newmarket, at present one of the most tranquil areas in East Anglia, has the
largest concentration of stud farms in Europe. The Derby winners of 2006 and 2007,
Sir Percy and Authorized, both retired to stud there, and this year’s winner,
New Approach, is also likely to end up in the area.

A study commissioned by the Newmarket Horse Racing and Breeders Group suggested
that almost two thirds of the stud farms would either move or curtail investment
in the area because of the noise and air pollution created by the stack.

Aircraft would descend in spirals to 7,000ft (2,100m) before breaking out of
the holding pattern to make their approach to Stansted. Some would pass over the
stud farms as low as 4,000ft. The group says it has been told by Nats that the
noise of an aircraft at 7,000ft is similar to that generated by a van passing
within 50ft at 40mph. Another 100 aircraft would pass over Newmarket en route
to a stack for Luton airport.

The study found that many of the stud farm owners were international businessmen
and women with horseracing interests in other countries, to which they could easily
move their Newmarket horses. Dalham Hall, the biggest stud farm in the area, employing
250 people, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. He also
keeps and breeds racehorses in Ireland, France, the United States, Australia and

Newmarket’s stud farms and racehorse trainers collectively spend more than £100million
a year in the area on wages, goods and services. The study said: "Much of this
investment is footloose in the sense that it is capable of being invested in a
number of locations in the world, Newmarket – and indeed Britain – being merely
one of them. A clear consideration in making such investment is the high quality
of the environment around Newmarket and the absence of any pollution. It would
not take much for owners to choose other training and stud locations and not to
invest here."

Alastair Watson, chairman of the Newmarket Stud Farmers Association, said: "We
realise that the stacks have to go somewhere but we have a hundred employees for
every 1,000 acres and they spend 85% of their time outdoors. Elsewhere in East
Anglia there is only one person per 1,000 acres and he’s sitting in a tractor
and wouldn’t hear the aircraft."

Nats claims that the new stacks will result in fewer people overall being exposed
to excessive aircraft noise because its guiding principle has been to move flight
paths from urban to rural areas. More than 62,000 people live under the two existing
stacks shared by Stansted and Luton, compared with 40,000 under the three stacks
being proposed to replace them.

But critics of Nats’s policy point out that low-flying aircraft will be more
noticeable in the countryside because there is less background noise.

A Nats spokesman said that the consultation on the proposals would end on June
19. The new stacks are due to begin in March 2009.   He added: "The racing community
in Newmarket has made comments and these will be considered after the consultation


AirportWatch is organising a protest in London on Thursday 19th June, to mark
the end of the NATS consultation.     More details …..