Land­mark win in chopper noise case

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

Nor­man Peires and his wife Lorna said the night­mare din of chopper blades com­ing from a nearby aero­drome blighted their hap­pi­ness and slashed the value of their lux­ury home.

And to­day a top judge agreed with them, order­ing the oper­a­tors of B u c k i n g h a m s h i re’s Bick­er­ton’s Aero­drome to cut the racket or pay al­most £600,000 in dam­ages.

Af­ter a visit to the cou­ple’s home, Mr Jus­tice Peter Smith said he was shocked by the noise of train­ing he­li­copters land­ing and tak­ing off just 58 me­tres home.

“I found the noise ex­cru­ci­at­ing in the gar­den and clearly no­tice­able to a sig­nif­i­cant de­gree within the rooms.

“It was sim­ply im­pos­si­ble to have any kind of con­ver­sa­tion or do any kind of ac­tiv­ity in the gar­dens when the he­li­copters were there”.

The Peires’ live-in house­keeper, Me­lanie Sten­son, de­scribed the noise as ‘pretty aw­ful’.

“From the gar­den, I am able to see the tops of the he­li­copters bob­bing up and down on the bound­ary as they carry out their ma­noeu­vres,” she said.

“It is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to en­joy the gar­den whilst the he­li­copters are hov­er­ing.

“It is too dis­tract­ing to read a book and is em­bar­rass­ing to have guests around as con­ver­sa­tion is im­pos­si­ble”.

The judge said Ms Sten­son’s ac­count was ‘com­pelling’

from

the

cou­ple’s ev­i­dence that the he­li­copter noise amounted to a le­gal ‘nui­sance’ that had to be stopped.

He is­sued an in­junc­tion against Bick­er­ton’s Aero­dromes Lim­ited, re­strict­ing it to only two 15-minute weekly train­ing ses­sions close to the bound­ary.

The racket was so dread­ful that the judge said he would have awarded Mrs Peires, who brought the case, £583,000 in com­pen­sa­tion.

But the re­turn of peace and quiet to her home – Shep­herd’s Holt, a sixbed­room man­sion in leafy Den­ham, Bucks – was more im­por­tant to her than the money, the court heard.

The judge said of Mrs Peires: “Her ap­proach has been one of rea­son­able re­straint; the aero­drome’s ap­proach re­gret­tably has not been the same”.

And, urg­ing the oper­a­tors of the 100-year-old air­field to lis­ten to her con­cerns in fu­ture, he added: “This is just plain good neigh­bourly con­duct”.

The cou­ple ploughed £1.5mil­lion into re­vamp­ing Shep­herds Holt soon af­ter they bought it for £1.275 mil­lion in 2006.

And Mrs Peires, 69, ear­lier told the judge: “We made that house ex­actly the way we wanted it. We wanted to live there for ever”.

But their dreams soured when re­lax­ing in their 2.5acre gar­den and af­ter­noon ten­nis par­ties had to com­pete with the roar of he­li­copters from the aero­drome.

The cou­ple had no ob­jec­tion to the ‘low hum’ of avi­a­tion, but said the noise of chop­pers tak­ing off and land­ing on a ‘ramp’ just yards from the bound­ary was un­ac­cept­able.

She said the ‘loud drum­ming and shattering’ pen­e­trates into the draw­ing room and mas­ter bed­room even with the dou­ble-glazed win­dows tight shut.

They ended up putting Shep­herd’s Holt on the mar­ket just five years af­ter they bought it as the noise was ‘driv­ing us crazy’, Mrs Peires told the court.

Es­tate agents ini­tially sug­gested a £4 mil­lion price tag but Mr and Mrs Peires said pun­ters were re­peat­edly de­terred by the in­tru­sive howl of he­li­copters.

Tess Daly and Ver­non Kay ( had been very keen on buy­ing the prop­erty – un­til they stepped out into the gar­den, Mr Peires told the judge.

The celebrity cou­ple were ‘left hor­ri­fied by the noise’ dur­ing their se­cond view­ing and were vis­i­bly shocked, the court heard.

“Tess Daly said later that they loved our house but that they couldn’t live with those he­li­copters”, the busi­ness­man added.

An­other po­ten­tial buyer put off by the he­li­copters was TV sports broad­caster, Gabby Lo­gan, the court heard.

The cou­ple said she had only made it as far as the gar­den gate be­fore she was ‘put off by the noise’.

Mr Peires, who made his for­tune in the travel in­dus­try, said they ended up let­ting Shep­herd’s Holt be­tween 2013 and 2015.

And he told the judge: “Our main re­quest of the court is to help us live in peace.”

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