A DIVISIVE plan to install helicopter simulators in the grounds of a Colchester barracks is set to get the go-ahead after army chiefs toned down the scheme.

The Ministry of Defence wants to install two chinook simulators at Merville Barracks, in Colchester.

Plans reveal the training facilities would provide paratroopers with the means to practice and develop their low-level air skills in all-weather.

The military had previously submitted an application in October but it was refused due to concerns about the noise the simulators would emit.

An assessment concluded Monkwick Avenue and Henry Everett Grove would see a “significant” increase of noise during operations.

Gazette: The MoD hopes to set up helicopter simulatorsThe MoD hopes to set up helicopter simulators (Image: Cheryl Holland)

A revised bid with the speaker system having been removed was tabled and is due to be discussed at a Colchester Council planning committee meeting on Thursday.

Soldiers say the large units, which would be operated by hydraulics and positioned on concrete pads, will often be used at night time.

A planning statement reads: “The chinook is used to transport service personnel and equipment across vast operational landscapes, for operational reasons this is carried out during night hours.

“This is why Merville Barracks requires the capability to train its service personnel during the hours 6pm to 11pm on a maximum of 12 hours per month.”

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The statement says the units will ensure troops have had “meaningful training” to prepare them for hostile environments.

All procedures after 6pm would be “within Colchester Council’s noise tolerances” and would not impact neighbouring residents, it adds.

The initial bid attracted 14 objections. One submitted at the time read: “We already have helicopters flying overhead periodically, regular alarms, training events and social events causing noise.

“Surely the MoD must have other locations just as suitable, but not connected to residential housing sites?”

Berechurch councillor Dave Harris had called-in the previous application after also becoming concerned about noise levels.

He said: “To approve this there needs to be answers on how the noise control can be controlled and ways of monitoring disruption to houses near the site.

“Written assurances are needed for all of these residents.”

Officers have recommended the revised plans for approval, subject to conditions which will “protect the neighbouring amenity”.