Councillors back plans to move engine testing facility at Norwich International Airport
Peter WalshPlans to relocate an engine testing facility at Norwich International Airport have received a boost from councillors who say the facility is vital to the future economic health of the site and the region - despite concerns about noise.Peter Walsh
Plans to relocate an engine testing facility at Norwich International Airport have received a boost from councillors, who say the facility is vital to the future economic health of the site and the region - despite concerns about noise.
Permission is being sought to move the existing facility from its approved location, on the eastern apron of the airport near to Hellesdon, to a new location in the north-eastern corner of the site close to Spixworth.
As well as moving the testing facility, used mainly by KLM UK Engineering which employs up to 450 people, the airport also wants permission to carry out up to 240 high-pressure tests a year, more than three times the current amount.
The application, which will be determined by Norwich City Council and also includes work to increase an earth and concrete bund around the proposed test area from the existing 4.5m to 6m, has raised a number of concerns with nearby families. And there is concern that the testing currently takes place in an unauthorised area.
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The location, at the northern end of the decommissioned runway on the airport, is subject to a breach of condition notice which has been served by the city council and requires the airport to cease testing engines anywhere other than the approved site by June 22.
Broadland District Council was asked for its views ahead of the planning meeting at City Hall next Thursday. Officers had recommended that members oppose the application as no justification had been made as to why the facility needs to operate from the proposed site.
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Ian Graham, a district councillor for Aylsham, said that without services such as engine testing and maintenance, the airport itself would not be viable. He said: "You will always get concerns from people who don't like it. If you don't test engines after routine maintenance that routine maintenance will go elsewhere. Are you telling us that we get rid of 400 jobs?"
Broadland's planning committee went against the recommendations of officers and did not object to the current application, subject to conditions governing the number and timing of tests, how they are lit, sound mitigating measures and the notice given to families.
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