Row explodes over company's war games plan with realistic guns in Shropshire fields
A war of words has broken out over a plan to use a farmer's fields in south Shropshire for war games using realistic guns that fire biodegradable projectiles.
Residents of Greete, near Ludlow, are up in arms over a plan to change the use of land near Rock Hill Farm from agricultural to sports and leisure, while the company behind the plan has hit back accusing objectors of being "not interested in the facts".
The plan, lodged by Frontline Events, is currently in a period of consultation before the issue is decided by Shropshire Council.
And residents have taken the opportunity to take a shot across the company's bows to keep the plan away from them.
Objector Helen Whateley said: "Whilst the application for change to 'sports and leisure' may sound innocuous, it is clearly not intended to be used for a gentle game of cricket or hockey and is intended to be used for replica weaponry, pyrotechnics and an invasion of peaceful rural land to its detriment and disruption to residences and wildlife near to the site."
Residents have also objected to having an increase in traffic on narrow country roads, and say the extra noise and activity will scare local wildlife. They also fear that the plastic ammunition used in Airsoft events will damage the environment and hurt people who are using a footpath through the site.
Objector James Holdsworth said: "It is a ridiculous idea to plant this activity in a placid and calm countryside and thereby, to blight the quality of life of anyone living in the vicinity."
Student Tom Whateley said: "We don't want guns and explosives here, we want peace, quiet and somewhere that our native animals can live like us - in peace."
But Danyal Davies from the company has provided a long rebuttal of opponents' points, putting his 'counter arguments' to objectors' claims.
He has told objectors that up to 100 players of war-style games will have to use 'bio-degradable ammunition' that fully breaks down in between five and seven months.
"All players at our site will be required to use biodegradable ammunition," he said.
He also says that they have a "range incursion safety order" which means that “STOP, STOP, STOP!” will be called and all activity cease until the area is cleared of non-participating persons.
"This is quite a common occurrence amongst many Airsoft sites in the UK," he said.
Mr Davies has also responded to opponents' fears over noise and smoke.
"We did come to test pyrotechnics and Airsoft replicas for sound on the land in question. No one came to complain in the two hours we were present," he said.
"Having 100 people firing blank ammunition is not acceptable, we agree. That is why we do not use blank firing weapons. We use Airsoft weapons which are recorded around 90-100 decibels, which is the same volume as the average radio or TV programme. Smoke grenades and pyrotechnics can be limited use, therefore reducing noise pollution."
The plan is available for the public to comment, on the Shropshire Council planning portal, with the reference number 22/03770/FUL