§ Mr. Gordon Prentice
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the pattern of military low flying activity in the United Kingdom during the training year 1999–2000. 
§ Dr. Moonie
The ability to fly fast and low continues to be an essential skill in our armoury of tactics. Training for aircrew to achieve and maintain these skills is vital.
The amount of low flying training carried out in the UK Low Flying System during the training year April 1999 to March 2000 was the minimum necessary for aircrew to reach and maintain these skills. Hours booked for low flying training during this period amounted to some 15 per cent. less than for 1998. Some of this reduction can be attributed to the number of aircraft and crews committed to overseas deployments. Since detailed records of hours booked began in 1995, the total overall has reduced by 36 per cent. (some 24,200 hours) with fixed-wing activity showing the greatest reduction of 42 per cent. (19,800 hours).
The distribution of low flying training across the UK has not changed significantly. We continue to try and spread it as widely as practicable, but for a variety of operational, geographical and climatic constraints some parts of the country will see more than others.
The paper published for 1998 (see the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) 28 April 1999, Official Report, column 147W), made clear that for the future this information 247W would be published on a financial year basis. I have today placed in the Library of the House a paper giving a detailed account of low flying training in the UK Low Flying System. It provides information for the transitional period January 1999 to March 2000.
Further copies of the paper, and the video and leaflet mentioned in the text, can be obtained from the following address:
- Secretariat (Air Staff) 2
- Ministry of Defence
- Room 8247
- Main Building
- London SWIA 2HB.