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Air rage: Residents furious at 'ugly' advertising blimp keep blasting it out of the sky with shotguns

Posted on 12:20 PM by Sameer Shah

It's a village known for its picture postcard image and well-to-do community, the absolute epitome of Englishness.

But in the skies above Ditchling in West Sussex, a less than gentile state-of-affairs is occurring.

A ‘blimp war’ is raging between villagers and the Big Box Self Storage company who have raised a giant advertising inflatable over their rural idyll.



The garish white, blue and green helium balloon, which can be seen from a mile away, has even been shot down by angry locals who say it is a blot on the landscape.

But bosses who have been granted a six month licence to fly the blimp - named after first world war airships - patched it up and flew it again over Ditchling Common Country Park.

City trader Martin Harris, 43, who lives with his family in a secluded £750,000 cottage overlooking the country park, said: ‘We moved to the middle of the countryside because we wanted beautiful countryside views, but that blimp is a real stain on the horizon.

‘This is a picturesque area, and looking over the country park is a delight all year round - but when that balloon is up, your eye is automatically drawn to it and it really spoils the scene.

‘I recently removed one of our hedges so we would have a better view over the horse fields from our back garden, but now that blimp is constantly front and centre.

‘It's very frustrating that we don't have any say over whether it can remain there. I know some local people have taken pot-shots at it, and they've had to patch it up a few times.



‘Maybe they should get the message and just throw it in the bin.’

And business owner Howard Kemp, 52, who can see the blimp from his office window, added: ‘If I wanted to put up an aerial on my roof, I'd need permission from the council and people would have a chance to object - but they can fly that gigantic thing and no one says a word.

‘It's a disgrace that they can create a revolting blot on the landscape like that, but if someone round here planted a conifer in their front garden, the council would be all over them.

‘The planning regulations are tight round here because we live in a country park. Every little thing needs permission.

'But blimps? Apparently they're fine.’

The 30ft by 10ft blimp first went up earlier this month.

Before granting permission, the CAA consulted with Air Traffic Control at Swanick; the low flying operational squadron at RAF Wittering in Sussex; the Sussex police helicopter support unit and Burgess Hill police.

It was mysteriously shot down days later but undeterred bosses patched up the airship emblazoned with the words Big Box Self Storage.

Ditchling Big Box branch manager, Mike Rayner, said: ‘The blimp was intended to boost our business. After all, the economy is not exactly flying high.

‘We only fly it in good weather, and we did not set out to upset local residents.’

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