Shots fired at 'eyesore' airship

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The Independent Online

Irate residents in a country village have declared war on a giant blimp they deem to be a blot on the landscape.

The 20ft-long airship is used to advertise the Big Box Storage Centre, which has a warehouse in Ditchling, East Sussex, and has been shot at several times.

Locals believe the sight of the white, green and blue blimp spoils their view as it hovers 200 feet over the picturesque South Downs.

Big Box Storage Centre director Mike Rayner, who had to apply for consent from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly the airship, said it was shot down the very first day it was launched in August.

Since then it has been targeted on a number of other occasions, costing the company up to £500 a time to have it repaired and re-inflated with helium.

Mr Rayner said rumours were rife around the village about who was responsible and added that he had received a number of other complaints from people including a woman who said the blimp scared her dog.

However he also said that many customers had said they had used the company after seeing the blimp.

"We thought with the balloon we could catch some local advertising and it looks like that's exactly what we've done," he said.

"It's doing what it set out to, but having said that we don't want it to be shot down again as it's so costly to repair."

Local businessman Howard Kemp, 52, said he could see the "revolting blot on the landscape" from his office window.

He told the Daily Mail: "If I wanted to put up an aerial on my roof I'd need permission from the council and people would have a chance to object - but they can fly that gigantic thing and no one says a word."

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