Mystery aircraft keeping Hayling Island and Emsworth residents awake at night

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RESIDENTS say they have endured sleepless nights because of a mystery low-flying plane circling overhead.

Many living on Hayling Island and in Emsworth have been disturbed by the noisy aircraft which has been flying between 1.30am and 6am every day for over a week.

Scores complained to the Civil Aviation Authority – only to be told the Ministry of Defence mission was top secret.

It has been discovered that the light commercial propeller plane – which belongs to 2Excel Aviation Ltd – was carrying out a national security survey of a three-mile radius surrounding Thorney Island.

A spokesman from 2Excel told one resident that it was carrying out anti-terrorism tests, but the company would not confirm or deny this to The News.

Paul Fisher, chairman of Hayling Island Residents’ Association, said: ‘I have no doubt that what they are doing is important, but why didn’t they tell anyone they were going to do it?

‘It’s causing people a lot of stress. They are losing a lot of sleep over it and they don’t even know what it’s all about.’

Simon Spurge, 53, of Orchard Lane, Emsworth, added: ‘It’s been going on for a week and it’s driving me mad. I’m a light sleeper so it kept me awake on Saturday and Sunday.’

Flying was scheduled to take place every night until January 28, but the Defence Science Technology Laboratory – the government body that commissioned 2Excel to carry out the work – called a halt to flying on Sunday night.

It claimed all the necessary data, which needed to be collected at night due to the nature of the survey, had been gathered.

Lorraine Clode, chairwoman of Emsworth Residents’ Association, said: ‘I heard them night after night, and it has resulted in a lack of sleep, but if it’s of military nature then I’m prepared to put up with it.’

The plane could be heard as far away as Southsea and Petersfield. Despite the complaints, aircraft noise is not classified as a statutory nuisance.

A DSTL spokeswoman said: ‘The aircraft which were flying over the Thorney Island area were part of an exercise at the military base being run by the DSTL, in support of national security. DSTL always endeavours to keep any disruption to local residents to a minimum and apologises for any inconvenience caused during this trial. The aircraft’s involvement has now concluded.’