Fears over the future of his business have forced a man who has run a shooting ground for 20 years to ask for permission to transform it into a graveyard.
People have been going clay pigeon shooting at the A1 Shooting Ground on the Barnet Bypass in Borehamwood since 1927.
However the land around the shooting ground is becoming increasingly built-up and the centre’s owner Claudio Capaldo fears this might lead to an increase in complaints about the noise it creates.
Ten years ago he went to court to appeal a noise abatement order issued by Barnet Borough Council after residents complained about the racket from firing guns.
The shooting ground lost the case and had to keep the noise in the streets surrounding the shooting ground to a limit of 55 decibels, which is the level of a conversation with a loud talker.
Mr Capaldo said: “The case cost us £160,000, meaning we had to remortgage the site.
“Keeping the noise level at 55 decibels is very difficult indeed and I have heard people have begun complaining to Barnet Council about the noise we make again. We would go bust if we had another court case so we had to think of another use for the land to ensure our future.
“We won’t have any noise complaints if it is a graveyard.”
The application to Hertsmere Borough Council for the change of use involves demolishing the buildings on site, erecting halls of remembrance, improving access from the roads and putting in space for graves and 60 cars.
Mr Capaldo said he was very sad indeed to have to close the shooting ground, which has been the home of national and international champions.
He added: “People have been clay pigeon shooting here for nearly 90 years. We have had fantastic success with people from this shooting ground winning Commonwealth gold medals, World Cups and European Championships.
“But people don’t see us as an Olympic sport, but as something to do with killing birds. We’re fighting an uphill struggle here.”
Mr Capaldo said this “was not the end”, adding he was currently seeking a new site for the shooting ground, ideally somewhere in the countryside near Stevenage where there would be fewer complaints.
He added: “We’re going to stay here as long as we can. The people who come here for a weekend shooting from all over London will miss us, but we have to move on. Our old way of life is gone and we have to find a new way forward.”
A spokesman from Barnet Council said it had received a complaint from the area around the shooting ground in August, but could not confirm whether the shooting ground was the source.