Yogic flyers get their own air base

Two years after the US air force stopped low-level flying over the Suffolk countryside, the county's bemused inhabitants are bracing themselves for a new invasion - 4,000 yogic flyers, followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The Maharishi Foundation plans a University of Natural Law at the 1,000-acre Bentwaters air base, near Woodbridge, which has lain empty since the USAF pulled out of East Anglia in 1993.

According to Geoffrey Clements, vice-chancellor of the university, the 2,000 students who will initially occupy the site will provide a strong enough coherence "to influence positively the collective consciousness of the whole country".

He said the effect of the university's unique curriculum of transcendental meditation and yogic flying would reduce the country's crime, improve health and boost educational attainment.

The departure of the Americans dealt a heavy blow to the local economy, which was dominated by more than 13,000 US airmen and their families.

The university promises a range of accredited degree programmes in management, science and the humanities, as well as "the unique Natural Law-based programmes of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi".

The Natural Law Party bounced into the popular consciousness during the Euro elections last summer when it took advantage of a rule allowing political parties fielding at least 10 candidates a five-minute broadcast on national television.

The party's publicity infuriated rival eccentric Screaming Lord Sutch, who was unaware of the rule. "The Natural Law Party gave loonies a bad name. They had people flying through the air and that's even too loony for us - we've at least got our feet on the ground," he said.

Despite its promises of eradicating disease and the attractions of its unique airborne meditation technique, the Natural Law Party's 310 candidates in the last general election all lost their deposits.

A spokesman for Bidwells, the East Anglian surveyors who brokered the deal for the site's owner, the Defence Land Agent, said: "The university option was by far the most complementary to the local authority's planning brief."

According to Bidwells, more than 60 inquiries were made about the air base, which boasts 2 million square feet of offices, 700 homes, aircraft hangars and reportedly indestructible shelters.

The successful buyers are reported to have paid several million pounds for the site.

The foundation's bid was the only one that meet Suffolk Coastal District Council's strict criteria. Jeremy Schofield, director of planning and leisure, said the university offered a real chance to compensate for the loss of economic activity when the USAF left.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us