AIRFIELD bosses have slammed the owner of horses which have been allowed to wander into the path of aircraft taking off.
Shotton airfield owner Ian Rosenvinge said since November there have been around half-a-dozen near-misses, where flights have had to be aborted and planes re-started as horses “come from out of nowhere”.
Mr Rosenvinge said: “They are like stallions on the ranges in America.
“They would appear as planes are taking off – because they are free-roaming they can just appear at no notice.
“We have had to stop the plane on occasions and get the quad bike out and herd all four horses up off the runway out of the way.”
He added: “It’s an absolute nightmare. If a horse ran across the front of an aircraft while taking off, someone could potentially be killed.
“We have a safety controller who has to keep an eye out for the area around the aircraft, and at the moment it’s more of an inconvenience than anything.
“But at times it can be like the wild west.”
Mr Rosenvinge said he grants grazing rights to three local people, who each have horses tethered in fenced-off areas of his land, but these particular horses are owned by a man who has not been given permission to graze and are left to roam.
He said his hands are tied regarding powers to control the horses.
“If the horses were roaming next to a road, the police would come and take them away, but because it’s on a private runway it’s a different matter.”
Mr Rosenvinge’s safety fears come after dog walker Doreen Stephenson, 54, from Polden Close, Peterlee, said two of the stray horses chased her before knocking her to the floor and butting her into bushes on January 17.
She said: “I thought I was going to lose my life on the airfield, I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through it.”
Doreen, whose partner, Gordon Sanderson, 56, is a tyre-fitter, managed to escape through a hole in a nearby wall and went to a nearby garage for help.
She said she was too shaken to drive home and one of the mechanics had to take her back to Peterlee.