Decision day on Norwich airport testing

Jon WelchCouncillors are due to decide tomorrow whether to grant permission for a controversial engine testing facility at Norwich Airport to be moved.Jon Welch

Councillors are due to decide tomorrow whether to grant permission for a controversial engine testing facility at Norwich Airport to be moved.

KLM UK Engineering, one of Norwich's biggest employers, has warned that unless the application gets the go-ahead, it will pull out of the city with the loss of 450 jobs.

For the past five years testing has been taking place at an unauthorised location at the northern end of the airport's disused second runway, but Norwich City Council ordered it to stop.

Airport authorities then applied for permission to relocate the existing facility from its approved location on the eastern apron to the former fire training site in the north-eastern part of the airport, close to the perimeter.

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The application, which included some measures to cut noise, was heard by the council's planning committee in March.

Onno Pietersma, managing director of KLM UK Engineering, told the meeting at City Hall that approval was vital for his company and the airport's future viability.

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'If we're restricted in the future then we have no option but to move our business and let go of 450 staff,' he warned.

However, councillors voted to defer the matter, pending further noise monitoring visits. Members asked for advance notice of these visits so they could attend and hear any noise for themselves, and are due to give their verdict tomorrow.

The application is being opposed by some neighbours, including Peter and Gill Cook, of Quaker Farm, Spixworth, just 500m from the proposed testing site, who argue that noise from the site will be too intrusive.

Planning officers are recommending that permission be granted, subject to 20 conditions.

These include maximum limits of 240 tests per year and 20 tests per month. Tests will only be allowed between 8am and 8pm Monday to Saturday, and 9am to 8pm on Sundays.

No more than 15 per cent, a maximum of three tests per month, may take place outside 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and no more than six hours of testing may take place on any one day.

Testing must not be carried out on consecutive Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays on any weekend or holiday period.

What do you think of the proposal? Write to Letters, Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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