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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?