Revival of flying from former RAF Coltishall edges nearer
PUBLISHED: 15:51 20 June 2019
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An aircraft manufacturer's bid to bring a former Royal Air Force runway back into use has moved a step closer - in what has been hailed as an important day for innovation in Norfolk.
North Norfolk District Council has given its approval to Swift Aircraft's proposals to use the taxiway and runway at Scottow Enterprise Park for testing light aircraft.
It will be the first time the site has seen flight since it was operated as RAF Coltishall - which ceased use in 2006.
It will also see aviation history made, as it will allow the manufacturers to press forward with the first new line of light aircrafts to be entirely built, designed and manufactured in Britain for more than 30 years.
However, the manufacturer will have to wait for Broadland District Council to also clear the plans for take-off - with the enterprise zone being split between the authorities.
It had initially been thought North Norfolk District Council might have been able to make the call on behalf of both councils, however, it was instead decided Broadland would also need to discuss the proposals.
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Nonetheless, the North Norfolk planning committee unanimously gave its approval to the scheme, which, pending Broadland's decision, would see Swift able to carry out no more than four flight tests a day.
David Stanbridge, chief executive of Swift, said he was "over the moon" with the decision and said he hoped it would be the beginning of an important time for innovation in Norfolk.
He said: "We held an open day for the plans a while ago and had some really encouraging support.
"We are hoping to be airborne from September 18, pending Broadland's approval and it is an exciting time for us."
Mr Stanbridge said the ambition is that from September 2020 Swift will be producing 96 of the aircrafts per year, creating around 100 jobs in the meantime.
He added: "Britain has a rich history in aviation and we're trying to put Norfolk at the centre of that.
"Our ambition is to make Norfolk a real hub for technology and innovation and this is a big step forward for that."
Broadland Council's planning committee, which next meets on Wednesday, July 10 will make its decision in due course.