Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Derry MLA demands answers over mysterious night sky noises

The Secretary of State has been asked to help solve the mystery of noisy night-time air operations in the skies over Londonderry.

There have been dozens of reports of families being wakened from their sleep by aircraft noise over the past few weeks. Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has now written to Owen Paterson demanding an explanation.

Mr Ramsey said the air activity was playing havoc with the sleeping patterns of local people, while many others have complained of the drone on social networking sites.

People from the Creggan, Crescent Link, Steelstown, Rosemount, Gobnascale and Galliagh have all complained of the noise.

City of Derry Airport have ruled out the noise being caused by commercial aircraft at the Eglinton facility, with scheduled take-offs and arrivals only taking place daily between 7am and 8pm.

Neither the PSNI nor the Ministry of Defence would yesterday confirm whether the police or the army were involved in the flights.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “The police helicopter is routinely used for pro-active policing.

“It is just one of the resources PSNI has to prevent and detect crime and keep the community safe.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “As a matter of routine we do not discuss specific movements of aircraft.

“There is a formal complaints procedure in place with a 24-hour number available.”

Dozens have taken to Facebook to complain about the noise, with a wide range of theories being pushed — from unmanned Predator drones to the ghost of aviator Amelia Earhart.

One irate man posted on Facebook: “If taxi men are not permitted to beep their horn after 11pm and before 7am then why the buck is there permission for what ever the hell it is to keep everyone awake in its proximity every night for the last few weeks!”

Another man posted: “This thing is a joke and has to be stopped. So many people are complaining about it.”

Mr Ramsey said clear answers are now needed as to who is responsible for the air activity and the subsequent nightly noise.

He said: “I have received a number of calls from concerned residents who have been unsettled and whose sleeping pattern is being affected by what can only be described as a relentless and disturbing buzzing noise in the Derry sky over recent days.

“If the PSNI confirm they are not responsible for the noise, then it is only logical, given enquiries that I have carried out, that the British Army are responsible for the operation of whatever device is causing annoyance to my constituents.”

Mr Ramsey said he intends to write to the Secretary of State over the issue.

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