Local Issues

Local issues affecting residents of Ashtead

Have your say on our draft Council Strategy 2019-2024

The Council is pleased to let you know that they have launched an important consultation that will help determine Mole Valley District Council’s priorities for the coming 5 years and help set the Council’s budget.

Residents' views are important and will help us to establish an effective Council Strategy that will enable us to continue to effectively meet the variety of changing demands to which we, as a local authority, must respond. Whilst the core values remain unchanged, the draft Council Strategy 2019-24 sets out a modified vision and proposed new guiding principles: Putting People First; Acting Strategically; Living Within Our Means and Being Open & Accessible. The priorities - Environment, Prosperity and Community Wellbeing - remain the same, but the Council aims beneath these have been updated.

The survey is quick and easy to complete. It will only take about 10 minutes of your time.

You can complete this survey online at www.molevalley.gov.uk/strategy or by clicking this link. Please note that the closing date is 19 October 2018. We look forward to hearing from you.

Swan Centre Refurbishment - Works Update

In the first week in September work will begin on the first of three phases of refurbishment to the Swan Shopping Centre, Leatherhead as part of Transform Leatherhead. See accompanying Frequently Asked Questions.

Phase 1
This first phase will see the refurbishment of the public toilets and provision of new baby changing facilities, and begin works to make the car park more user-friendly.

1st week Sept 2018 – late Oct 2018
• Toilets will be closed as work begins. Alternative ladies, gents and disabled toilets will be available in Sainsbury’s and baby changing facilities in Boots.
• Works will take place on Levels 1- 4 of the car park to make it more user-friendly. The car park will remain open and operational and there will be Traffic Marshalls to direct users.

Between November and January there will be no further work to ensure there is minimal impact on the Christmas trading period.

Phase 2
The second phase will see the completion of the car park improvement works and replacement of the lifts.

Mid Jan 2019 – late Feb 2019: Car park works will be completed on levels 5-6.
Mid Jan 2019 – early Apr 2019: One passenger lift and one goods lift will be replaced.
Mid Apr 2019 – end of May 2019: The second passenger lift and second goods lift will be replaced.

Phase 3
Late May 2019 – early Jul 2019: The stairwell will be reconfigured and will be out of operation. The new lifts will, however be operational.
Late May 2019 – Aug 2019: A new retail unit will be created within the existing stair well area opposite the lifts.

Peter Smith

Peter SmithIt is with great sadness we report the death of Peter Smith on Wednesday 5th July. Peter was a long time supporter of the Ashtead Residents' Association and had been Mole Valley Councillor for Ashtead Park Ward. Peter had also been a well respected Governor for West Ashtead School. When on the ARA's Committee, Peter took on the role of Planning with his usual attention to detail.

Larry Unthank who was Chairman of the ARA when Peter was on the Committee says the following:-

"Peter was a lovely bloke, who had a wonderful sense of humour, often mischievous. He was, I think, from the world of IT and was excellent at reviewing the planning applications that affected Ashtead. He went on from the ARA Committee to be an Independent Councillor, a role he filled with full vigour, helping residents in Ashtead when they needed assistance. He was, in my opinion, a great Councillor. Ask something of him & you knew it would be done and well.

Not only was he concerned with local matters, he also took up other causes, telling me and others, in no uncertain terms, that, having discovered his prostate cancer, I and all men of a ‘certain age’, should go to the doctor and have “the test” – “had I”, he suggested, “they might have found it earlier.” Counteracting his illness, he was always walking: drive to Epsom? No! walk it. He was active in the Ramblers and I spent a happy day walking around various fields looking for signposts, whilst he and others in the group tried to get me to sign up.

Peter also found time to be a trustee of Epsom “Age Concern” and held In high regard there, as I discovered when I needed the Charity’s services."

The funeral service will be held next Tuesday, 17th July at 4.15pm at Randalls Road Crematorium. There will be Celebration of Peter's Life later in August at the Epsom Hockey Club..

Rest in Peace Peter.



Helicopters over Ashtead


Update 23rd July 2018

Following the article below the Residents' Association wrote to the British Helicopter Association for clarification on some points. The email we sent is below and the comments from the BHA are in red. We are very grateful to the BHA for take the time to repond to our enquiry. In addition the covering email with these comments added the following:-

My comments below in red. The perceived increase in helicopter traffic maybe due to the hot weather and people opening their windows for ventilation. There is no reason for a large increase in traffic besides that which is normally due to the good summer weather and the associated air traffic tied to summer events. Ashtead is well situated to not be subject to the noise from large commercial jet traffic, however, helicopters are forced to stay under / outside the controlled airspace which is associated with this form of transport and we are necessarily lower. Helicopters will be transiting to the north of Gatwick’s airspace and to the South and West of the London Control Zone. The BHA operates a ‘Fly Neighbourly’ policy where we encourage pilots to fly as high as possible and away from conurbations.

Our original email and their additional comments was as follows:-

I am on the Committee of the Ashtead Residents’ Association and we have been receiving an increasing number of complaints regarding helicopter noise and “potential” low flying. I believe the latter complaint is not justified and the helicopters I see are well over the 1,000 feet level. However the noise aspect is a justified complaint.

I believe Ashtead, Surrey is on the edge of the exclusion zone around London and Heathrow and to avoid this zone helicopters are flying as close to the edge as possible taking then directly over Ashtead. Helicopters are noisier than jets, some of which fly, largely unnoticed over Ashtead. Helicopters though are much noisier and can at times be very intrusive.

We have been asked about night flying rules for helicopters. Are there any? There are Rules concerning weather limits and how close a pilot can get to a person, structure etc. However by being at 1000ft the pilot is well outside that limit. Can a certified helicopter pilot literally fly at any time of night? Yes a pilot who has the required licence / endorsements can fly at any time of the day. The helicopters flying in the period of 0001 to 0430 hours are most likely to be police or Air Ambulances I realise helicopters can take off from literally anywhere and there is no central authority, but do pilots have to file a flight plan, and if so with whom? A helicopter pilot only has to file a flight plan when carrying out some Commercial Air Transport duties, crossing international boundaries or wishing to make use of certain parts of controlled airspace. Can the public discover who is flying over Ashtead in the middle of the night waking everyone up? There are certain apps or online programmes which give radar pictures.

I have explained to residents the CAA procedure for complaining about low flying, though I have to say this is largely impossible enforce because the registration numbers are not visible, and it is hard to accurately judge height from the ground without a reference point.

If you can throw light on some of the questions and points above that would be helpful. Then I can pass your informed comments to residents.

Many thanks in anticipation.


Residents of Ashtead cannot fail to have noticed the numerous overflights by helicopters travelling east/west or west/east. These aircraft are much noisier than the large commercial jets that fly over us, often unnoticed. Cllr. Patricia Wiltshire has raised the problem with Chris Grayling who has responded very quickly, and he believes the very recent increased activity is linked to the Farnbrough Air Show.

Ashtead sits on the edge of the London Control Zone which is a portion of controlled airspace that extends from ground level to an altitude of 2,500 feet, within a 10-mile area of Heathrow airport. (See plan). Flights therefore need to skirt the CTR which puts them on a direct path across Ashtead.

Helicopter London CTR

Helicopter noise is far more complex to measure and assess than fixed-wing aircraft noise. Helicopters do not have to follow predefined routes; may hover over a specific area (increasing the impact of the noise in that location); and create asymmetric noise distribution because of variations in the speed of rotor blades.
About the City Control Zones (CTRs)

All helicopters flying in the London (Heathrow) and London City Control Zones (CTRs) are subject to an Air Traffic Control (ATC) clearance and particular visibility minima. In the main, pilots navigate by visual reference to ground features with only limited ATC Radar assistance.

Single-engined helicopters are required to fly along designated helicopter routes. These routes have been selected to provide maximum safety by avoiding flying over built up areas as much as possible. However, it should be noted that multi-engine helicopters can be provided with an ATC clearance to transit on more direct routes through the CTRs.

The Police and the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) operate multi-engined helicopters, but their operations are subject to special requirements associated with the nature of the tasks they are performing. Therefore, Police and HEMS helicopters may need to operate at lower altitudes or hold over specific locations.

Finally, at a recent meeting of Road Stewards we were asked how to report a helicopter flight we believed as flying too low. Generally helicopters have to fly above 1,000 ft if over a built-up area, but how do you judge that height? The Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Shard in London are just over 1,000 feet high.

The CAA can investigate unsafe flying, but helicopters are allowed to land away from airfields providing they can do so safely and they have the landowners’ permission. To report an aircraft you need evidence of the unsafe height plus the aircraft’s registration number. This is a letter G- followed by 4 letters. These requirements make identification of culprits very difficult if not impossible.

It was suggested that some Phone Apps will track overflying aircraft and an example of this is http://www.crondallweather.co.uk/flighttracker.html. This live map shows all aircraft in the air, where they are from and where they are going, plus flight number and airplane registration. However the majority of helicopters do not have the necessary transponder to place this information in the public domain.

To make a complaint visit http://www.caa.co.uk/Our-work/Make-a-report-or-complaint/Report-a-potential-breach-of-aviation-law/ and use the online form.

Note: The writer of this article is not an aviation expert and has gleaned the above information from the CAA web sites. Therefore E&OE !

Did the earth move for you?

Recent local earthquakes in the Reigate and Dorking areas have prompted speculation that these are linked to oil and gas drilling in the area. Cllr Patricia wiltshire has been in contact with SCC and sent the following details:-

"I have had a very long discussion with the Environment Agency expert in Hydraulic Geology and had already been in touch with the British Geological Survey. No-one actually knows exactly what is going on at depth in the Wealden geology because, of course, the stratigraphic structure of the deposits, and the degree of faulting, have all been ascertained through proxy methods. However, British Geological Survey are monitoring the situation and seismometers have been put in appropriate locations. Two universities are also carrying out research into the specific problem. We will not be party to the results of any research because it is, essentially, academic and, as far as I know, not being carried out on a commissioning basis. However, if there were anything that needed highlighting, I am sure they would alert the authorities very quickly. Research scientists are very responsible people.

First of all, no permits or licences have been issued to any company for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and, as far as the Environment Agency is aware, none has been requested. Furthermore, there is no acidization processes being employed so there is no wholesale rock removal, which can happen by it being dissolved with hydrofluoric acid. This is very comforting. The only acid that is used, is fairly dilute hydrochloric acid which is used to dissolve chalky deposits that accumulate during boring. This is not harmful and just stops the equipment getting messy. Another fluid that is inserted is simple brine (salty water) to prevent any upwelling of hydrocarbons from the borehole. Again, this should not have any deleterious effects on the underlying Wealden rocks.

All the scare stories actually relate to real happenings in America. However, they do not have our level of monitoring or control. It seems that virtually anyone owning land can prospect and actually extract oil and gas. From what I have learned, some of their practices are very dangerous to public health and would never be allowed in the UK. There is more of an issue in the North of England and I am sure that some of you are aware of the problems up there. They are being investigated and monitored extensively.

I have been assured that the Environment Agency, the Oil and Gas Authority, and the authority that deals with Public Health and Safety, are all in close liaison.

I will keep you informed of the situation but please put your residents’ minds at rest. I have been told by the Environment Agency that evidence collected so far would suggest that the boring activities are not related to the seismic activity. However, no-one can afford to be complacent, and the authorities are keeping an open mind. This is comforting, although Europa Oil & Gas have just been given permission to sink an oil well at Leith Hill. We must be ever watchful.

Best wishes,

Councillor Patricia E.J. Wiltshire"


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