Formula 1 film set on Blackbushe during rare bird breeding season?

The sign that appeared at the end of the lane running from the Red Cross Centre towards the disused area of Blackbushe Airport

On Dec 23rd we noticed two signs whilst coming away from a walk on the disused part of Blackbushe Airport. They looked like those shown here, but we had no means of recording the details. They had not been visible on 21st December during our previous walk in the area.

The following day Christmas Eve, both had obviously been torn down. On Boxing Day we finally got to take these photographs when the signs reappeared in slightly different places, as specified with the images.

Investigation showed that the application referred to in the paper marked in pink is here and is for a temporary (5 month) film set to be placed across an area forming the centre crossroads of the disused area of the airfield at Blackbushe. The full supporting statement 11_02695_FUL-SUPPORTING_STATEMENT-555171 (which I have downloaded from the planning application) explains that the film will be about the 1976 struggle between Niki Lauda and James Hunt for the F1 Championship.

The sign that appears in car park of the Red Cross Centre and Scout Hut off Monteagle Lane, Yateley

The references on the second sign, which shows different dates, don’t seem to lead anywhere at all. Neither sign has been placed anywhere on the actual site to which the application relates, and many people could be walking across the site being none the wiser to the proposed application.

We could be quite excited to have a film crew working in the area, possibly bringing additional work and business to the area. This however assumes that the film company are true to their word to “bring economic investment to the local area” and not bring in their own trusted subcontractors.

We could talk about the restrictions this film set (construction of which is proposed to start on Monday 9th January 2012!) would place on our normal routine of dog walking, and those of probably hundreds of others who live local and enjoy walking (with or without dogs) or riding across the disused airfield every week. But, darned inconvenient as this would be, this is not our most major concern.

What is a major concern is that we have witnessed in the last year (and in previous years), the adults and young of at least one Schedule 1 – Part 1 bird species within the area covered by the application, and during the breeding season. The presence of both adults and juveniles would suggest that within, or immediately adjacent to the area, are breeding sites for this bird. We have also witnessed the adults and young of one other relatively rare bird, a summer migrant, within the planned area of the film set and its immediate locality.

The site specified lies within a wildlife corridor between Yateley Common Country Park and Castle Bottom Nature Reserve (a Special Protection Area for bird populations).

Female Stonechat on the disused part of Blackbushe Airport

Since the film set construction and use is proposed to run from January until the end of May 2012 this will cut across the breeding season of all birds, including those protected by the law relating the Schedule 1 species. The female Stonechat pictured is just one of the other (less protected) species which I would expect to have the breeding sites disturbed by this film set.

We have also seen non-bird species that are protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, like the Common Lizard.

Once we have checked one or two further facts relating to the wildlife of the area covered by this application for filming, we will be making our formal objection to the planning application.

After making some enquiries we have learnt that Eversley Parish Council are meeting to discuss this at their planning meeting on 4th January 2012, and Yateley Town Council representatives are meeting the applicants in early January 2012. Natural England‘s offices are shut until 3rd January 2012.

The map shown here downloaded from the planning application links to this map from Googlemaps.

If you visit the disused part of Blackbushe Airport regularly, we would invite you to consider your own views, and make them known here by 11th January 2012 (the date on the planning notice – even though this is later than the proposed start date of construction of the film set!) Please read the detail of all the documents carefully when doing so, and relate your comments directly to them so that the authorities can see that your views are well informed.

Further news and thoughts on this story are in my next post.



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