A super-rich couple who said “shattering” helicopter noise stymied their hopes of selling their £4million home to Strictly Come Dancing presenter, Tess Daly, will just have to live with the racket after a court ruling.
Norman Peires and his wife Lorna said the din of chopper blades coming from Buckinghamshire’s Bickerton’s Aerodrome blighted their happiness and slashed the value of their luxury home.
A judge agreed with them last year when he ordered the aerodrome’s operators to cut the noise or pay the couple almost £600,000 in damages.
After visiting the couple’s home – Shepherd’s Holt, a six-bedroom mansion in leafy Denham – Mr Justice Peter Smith said he was shocked by the noise of training helicopters landing and taking off.
Now, however, the judge’s ruling has been reversed by the Court of Appeal in a decision which leaves Mr and Mrs Peires powerless to stop the noise.
The Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, ruled that the Civil Aviation Act 1982 made the helicopter flights immune from legal action.
The couple complained about the aerodrome’s use of a slope just a hedgerow away from their home for pilot training.
Sir Terence said such exercises were a “mandatory part of the training skills to obtain a helicopter pilot’s licence”.
Landing and taking off manoeuvres on the slope were “conducted in accordance with normal aviation practice”, he added.
Mr and Mrs Peires last year won an injunction against the aerodrome, restricting it to only two 15-minute weekly training sessions on the slope.
Mr Justice Smith said he would have awarded Mrs Peires, who brought the case, £583,000 in compensation.
But the return of peace and quiet to her home was more important to her than the money.
The couple ploughed £1.5million into revamping Shepherds Holt soon after they bought it for £1.275 million in 2006.
Their dreams soured when relaxing in their 2.5-acre garden and afternoon tennis parties had to compete with the roar of helicopters from the aerodrome.
They ended up putting Shepherd’s Holt on the market five years after they bought it as the noise was “driving us crazy”, Mrs Peires said.
Tess Daly and Vernon Kay had been very keen on buying the property – until they stepped out into the garden, Mr Peires told the judge.
“Tess Daly said later they loved our house but that they couldn’t live with those helicopters,” the businessman added.
Another potential buyer put off by the helicopters was television sports broadcaster, Gabby Logan, the court heard.
Sir Terence on Wednesday (April 12) pointed out that the Civil Aviation Act rules out trespass and nuisance claims relating to aircraft flights.
Subject to height and distance limits, the immunity applies to noise and vibration caused by aircraft on an aerodrome.
Mr Justice Smith had ruled that the immunity only applied to aircraft, including commercial jets, over-flying private property.
Sir Terence, who was sitting with Lord Justice Underhill and Lady Justice King, said flights did not have to be carried out “reasonably” for the immunity to apply.
The training exercises were “normal aviation practice” on an aerodrome and the immunity from legal action therefore applied, he concluded.
The aerodrome’s appeal was allowed and the orders granted in favour of Mr and Mrs Peires were overturned.