by Dale Spridgeon

A GWYNEDD head teacher is calling for the MOD to reduce the number of RAF planes on exercise in the area around his school whilst youngsters take their exams.

Dylan Minnice, head at Ysgol Botwnnog, says he does not believe it is “unreasonable” to ask for training planes to mitigate noise disuption which could affect his pupils who are about to sit their GCSEs.

He has called on the help of Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts who is now raising the issue with the Ministry of Defence.

She is calling for the MOD to take steps to reduce the number of low flying Texan aircraft in the vicinity of the Llŷn Peninsular School, near Abersoch.

It follows mounting complaints about noise from military aircraft in the vicinity of schools in Wales – particularly disruptive during the period of GCSE and ‘A’ Level exams.

Mr Minnice said:

“We understand the importance of RAF exercises, especially with the current situation in Europe.

“Nevertheless, we do not believe that we are being unreasonable in asking them to avoid exercises around the school for a period of about four hours a day for four weeks while Year 10 and 11 pupils sit their final GCSE exams which will have an impact on their futures.”

The Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts added:

“Local students have already experienced several years of disruption to their studies from the Covid pandemic and are now faced with further disruption to crucial examinations due to ongoing military aircraft activity.

“Teachers and students from Ysgol Botwnnog have voiced their concerns over the ongoing disruption, and it is disappointing that the Ministry of Defence has not been more receptive to their concerns.’

“While the Minister for the Armed Forces maintains that the amount of training is limited to that which is essential, I fear this will provide little comfort to students experiencing disruption to all-important examinations, as well as their hard-working teachers.

“While I have been encouraged by past meetings with the RAF that steps are being taken to equip the Texan aircraft with the equipment to permit over-sea flying, I remain deeply concerned about the impact on local areas.

 She said:

“I reiterate that the Ministry of Defence must be mindful of the impact of these operations on local communities and enact measures to mitigate disruption where possible.”

A number of complaints about the noise created by the controversial Texan T1 training aircraft over North Wales have been made recently, as residents and politicians frequently for something to be done.

In Dwyfor’s neighbouring constituency of Arfon, MP Hywel Williams has also regularly raised the issues of plane noise after numerous complaints by constituents.

Earlier this year, the US Air Force also issued an apology for disturbance caused by low flying jets after four jets made “low and unscheduled” flights over north west Wales.

The MOD and RAF Valley were approached for comment.

By Gwynoro Jones

Former MP for Carmarthenshire, Gwynoro Jones joined the team covering politics in Wales. He has a wealth of experience in politics and has been a regular commentator on radio, TV and in newspapers in Wales. Email: gwynorojones@walesnewsonline.com

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