Villagers aim to halt new sniper range for SAS

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The Independent Online
MARK MCGIVERN

Residents of a village are taking on the SAS in a battle over a planned gun range.

Moves by the Army to build a sniper shooting range in Abbey Dore, Hereford and Worcester, for exclusive use by the troops from the elite regiment, has angered the local populace.

The villagers fear the range will spoil the tranquillity of the Golden Valley and the famous Dore Abbey.

Plans for the six-lane, 400m range, to be used by the Hereford-based 22 Special Air Service, have already led to a crisis meeting between 30 residents.

Parish councillor Glennis Powell, chairwoman of the protest group, said people were concerned about ricochets from the range and the loud noise it would generate.

She said Dore Abbey, the only Cistercian abbey in use in the whole country, was a popular tourist attraction which could be spoiled by the noise.

A fellow protester, Reg Michael, said: "The SAS is already based on our doorstep at Pontrilas and we have learned to live with this.

"But we simply won't stand for all this noise and bullets flying around all over the place. This is a beautiful part of the country. We don't want it to be spoiled just because the the SAS have decided they want a gun range."

The SAS already has a shooting range nearby in Ross-on-Wye but this would be closed when the one on the edge of their base is completed.

A spokesman for South Herefordshire district council said: "We will take on board the feelings of the parish council before we compile a report for our planners.

"If they strongly object, we shall certainly make representations to the Ministry of Defence. If this fell on deaf ears, we would almost certainly write to the Department of the Environment."

The spokesman added that because most of the land earmarked for the shooting range was already owned by the MoD, they could go ahead with their plans without requiring consent by local planning authorities.

An army spokesman said it was not intended to use heavy weapons on the range, which would limit the levels of noise pollution.

He said: "Great attention has been paid to range safety. Danger signs will be erected within the training area, which will ensure the safety of local inhabitants."

The spokesman added that the range would be used exclusively by the SAS.

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