The British Army has been accused of playing “war games” in Limavady with “noisy low flying helicopters”.
East Derry SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat says people in various parts of the borough are “fed up to the teeth”.
“I got a promise from the British Army that this practice would cease shortly after the closing of the base at Ballykelly and manoeuvres would be transferred to England. That was several years ago,” he said. “The base is long closed but still we have these war games taking place to the total consternation of local people who thought all the trappings of war was over for them.
“Magilligan appears to be worst hit by these activities, but there are complaints from other areas, including some very close to Limavady town. Apart from the annoyance from noise and fear, most people feel strongly that local air space should not be used for practicing war games which will be acted out in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The issue has been taken up with the Northern Ireland Office and the Secretary of State with a reminder that the army presence in the North West is long gone, yet we still have these manoeuvres as well as a shooting range at one of the most scenic spots at Magilligan. Amazingly this still bans people from the sand dunes and that part of one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere along the Irish coastline.”
One Magilligan woman said when she first heard the helicopter on Wednesday night she thought it was a plane taking off, and as it got closer, thought it was on the roof.
“It’s the first time in a while it’s happened, in fairness, but it’s a nuisance, especially when you’re trying to get to sleep,” she said. “It went for about an hour and stopped just before 11pm, but it is terrifying.”