Catterick Garrison urban warfare centre plan wins support despite noise concerns

Soldiers practising urban fighting skills. Picture: MOD.

A Ministry of Defence scheme to build a 24-hour urban fighting skills centre at Catterick Garrison could lead to major increase in noise outside people’s homes, it has been claimed.

Plans for the 1,200sq m training facility and a briefing room at Catterick Garrison, where dozens of soldiers at a time would practise operations involving skills such as search drills and room clearances, explosive methods of entry and handling booby traps, will be considered by Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee next week.

The Army is seeking to bolster its Fighting In Built Up Areas (FIBUA) complex in the Whinny Hill area, as military chiefs say such environments have presented some of the greatest challenges in recent conflicts and its potential enemies are likely to use buildings to negate the British Army’s technological superiority.

Speaking after leading a urban raid exercise at Whinny Hill in August, Gurkha company instructor Warrant Officer Birendra Kambang said: “The boys learn how to fight in the urban area because the future of the war will be fought in the urban area, not in the jungle or in the training area.”

Papers submitted to the council state the expansive proposed building’s size had been governed by the need to accommodate an average of 30 soldiers training at a time, as well as directing staff.

An officers’ report to the meeting states while local residents had not objected to the plan, the council’s environmental health officers recognised the proposed complex “is relatively close to residential properties and does have the potential to cause an adverse noise impact”.

The report also advises that the council’s environmental health officers would not be allowed to regulate noise coming from the centre as the military has exemptions over statutory nuisance for activities related to national security.

Noise from the building, the report states, would be limited due to training being conducted inside the building, and it is estimated that training would feature 60 per cent blank firing and 40 per cent firer marker rounds, which have lower noise outputs.

The report states: “Although no details have been submitted with the application regarding noise, the MoD has its own policy and procedures with regards to noise with the aim of mitigating as far as reasonably practicable the effects of noise whilst achieving operational objectives. They advise that their department has not received any noise complaints regarding the FIBUA facility for many years now.”

Recommending the proposal be approved, officers stated: “The proposed development will not give rise to any significant adverse amenity or highway safety issues.

“There are residential properties in the vicinity of the site, but the siting of the building will ensure that views are limited.”