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Star Trek captain enters gun battle
It has earned the wrath of former Star Trek captain Patrick Stewart, but villagers are hoping to call a truce over a war with a local airfield.
West Oxfordshire residents will today meet bosses of a shooting school over complaints about continual noise from weapons.
Little Tew resident Sir Patrick wrote to West Oxfordshire district council object ing to plans to extend the hours of operation for The Oxfordshire Shooting School at Enstone Airfield.
Its bosses have admitted opening up to gun users more often than it has council permission for but now want to make these hours official.
Yet Sir Patrick, who played the Enterprise’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, said: “The noise of shooting is already at unacceptable levels.”
The X-Men actor wrote: “I do not exaggerate when I say that there have been days when the area of The Tews has sounded like a war zone with gunfire continuous for eight hours.”
And the “tranquility” becomes “intolerable” when motocross bikes then operate from the airfield on Sundays, he said.
Witney gun shop Francis Lovel & Co Ltd, which runs the club, should be refused permission or told to put in acoustic dampeners, he added.
The Downs Road firm has permission to open two days in the week from 8am to 8pm in the summer and 8am to 4.30pm during other times.
But owner Francis Lovel said the club was operating from Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm and wants permission for these times.
Asked why the club was not abiding by the ground’s original 2004 permission, he said: “The planning is a mess. There never has been a finite decision as to what the planning is. You can read it any which way. That’s why we put this application in.”
He said the firm had permission for shooting on Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 8pm but it does not take place on Sundays.
The direction of fire had been changed and acoustic baffling put up to keep the noise down, he said.
The firm is today set to meet the Enstone Uplands and District Conservation Trust at the site to discuss a way forward.
Trust chairman John Pritchard said members had not seen “any particular improvement” in noise levels, and residents were appalled that the 2004 permission had been breached, saying use intensified after the firm took over last year.
He said: “The amount of shooting is much much more than it used to be. It really is infringing on the people of the area. It is like a war zone.”
Enstone Parish Council chairman David Parris said: “We have a lot of sympathy for those affected. The noise is almost continuous.”