Norwich International Airport gets go-ahead for engine testing facility

Norwich International Airport Chief Executive Andrew Bell. Photo: Steve Adams

Norwich International Airport Chief Executive Andrew Bell. Photo: Steve Adams

Norwich International Airport has been told it can build an engine testing site – which bosses had said was crucial to the airport's future.

City councillors today gave the go ahead for the testing site on the eastern side of the airport.

Airport chief executive Andrew Bell, had warned major employer KLM UK might look to leave the airport if permission was not granted and about a dozen KLM workers attended the meeting.

A letter of concern signed by 320 staff at KLM UK was also sent to the council urging the committee to approve the application and not impose further restriction in order to protect their livelihoods.

Permission for an engine testing site at the former fire training site at the airport was approved by city councillors back in 2010.

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But Gill Cook and her husband Peter, who own Quaker Farm in Quaker Lane, Spixworth, and the holiday cottages on a nearby farm won the right to a judicial review into that decision.

The judicial review succeeded, with the High Court quashing the permission which had been granted because the council had failed to consider, in agreeing the application, what would happen had they refused it.

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That led to the fresh application, which sparked further objections, including from people living nearby who are unhappy at the noise which will be generated.

Mr Cook was among them and he spoke at the meeting of how it could mean people living nearby had to put up with high power testing lasting an hour and half on two days out of every three.

But, In the report which came before councillors, officers stated: 'It is considered that, in view of the strong policy encouragement for growth of the airport and scale of the economic impact relative to the length of time disturbance, considerable weight should be afforded to the economic benefits associated with engine tests in determining the application.'

Permission was granted with a condition controlling the hours engines can be tested.

Other conditions were that there shall be no engine tests on at least 100 days each year and the airport must make available a publicly viewable log of when no tests will be scheduled.

The airport last year unveiled its 10-year plan for expansion, which bosses say could create up to 1,000 jobs.

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