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Coltishall plan could be scuppered

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:37 02 July 2010

Ed Foss

A multi-million pound plan to decommission and store civilian aircraft at the former RAF Coltishall airbase could be grounded by a planned wind turbine serving the neighbouring prison site.

A multi-million pound plan to decommission and store civilian aircraft at the former RAF Coltishall airbase could be grounded by a planned wind turbine serving the neighbouring prison site.

As reported in yesterday's Evening News, an aviation business wants to use the 600 remaining acres of the old base to fly in civilian aircraft, mainly Boeing 737s, and take them apart carefully and sell the spare parts and scrap.

The project, which is in its very early stages, has been roundly welcomed by locals and politicians for its economic and jobs boost, its retention of heritage and its minimal impact on infrastructure.

But a plan announced in December to build a 130m-tall turbine on the old base to help satisfy renewable energy rules which were drawn up when 30-acre HMP Bure was given planning permission by North Norfolk District Council could scupper the decommissioning project.

“It is a potential problem. A wind turbine and an airfield don't fit together,” said Andrew Verdon, spokesman for TAG Aviation (Stansted), the business behind the new plans.

“A 400 foot tall turbine is a potential navigational hazard and we would need to discuss the detail with the Civil Aviation Authority.”

If the Ministry of Justice can renegotiate the need for a wind turbine on the site, either placing it elsewhere or using alternative renewable technologies to meet the planning rules, then the TAG Aviation (Stansted) project could still go ahead.

The other side of the argument is that the decommissioning project could put paid to the turbine plans, which would be welcomed by those who have been against the turbine since it was first suggested.

Council spokesman Peter Battrick said the legal agreement with the Ministry of Justice involving the wind turbine could be “open to renegotiation” if a request was made.

A public meeting to introduce the wind turbine proposal and project team to local residents is due to be held in February.

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