A FINAL decision on whether Stow Maries Aerodrome will be able to increase its annual flights from 360 to 8,000 will be made tonight.

The airfield, in Hackmans Lane, Purleigh, applied to Maldon District Council to alter the operational arrangements.

The application, put forward by the aerodrome’s board of trustees, would allow up to 25 landings and take offs each day.

During weekends and bank holidays in the summer months that would be extended to 50, and up to 75 on categorised flying days, which would have to be arranged two weeks in advance with the council and limited to seven per year.

Current planning conditions limit the site to a few hundred so the increase, if approved by the council tonight would be significant.

The change was recommended for approval by the council’s planning office.

The trustees claim the increase in flights would allow more money to be invested into expanding the tourism and visitor facilities on the site.

The aerodrome has been a popular addition to the district for many but for some of those living close by the noise has proven to be a problem.

Several residents have raised objections.

One said: “The noise was so loud at a recent event it drowned out our conversations as the planes were so low overhead.

“In the normal course of take-off and landings the noise is loud but during displays the noise increases in volume so much it sounds like a plane is about to crash into the house and normal conversation is impossible.”

Another added: “This is an excessive amount of flights.

“The noise is very loud already, and now we are talking about having to deal with that 8,000 times rather than 360.”