The boss of KLM UK today stressed the vital importance of a new engine testing facility at Norwich airport, warning the firm may be forced to pull out of the city if planners fail to give the green light to the £1.2m plan - putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

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Norwich International Airport has submitted revised plans for the new facility on the eastern side of the airport, in Horsham-St-Faith, which features a 10m-high three-sided aluminium structure able to absorb the noise.

The airport is seeking permission to test aircraft at less than 70pc thrust on an unlimited basis between 8am and 8pm Monday to Saturday, and 9am to 8pm on Sunday, with high-powered testing for up to 30 minutes within one hour. It believes it has found the best solution to minimise noise for residents living nearby.

A final decision will be made by Norwich City Council’s planning committee. But officers at Broadland District Council, which has been consulted on the plan, believe the economic benefits of the plan outweigh the impact on quality of life for nearby residents.

Broadland councillors meet to discuss the plan today and are being advised to recommend City Hall backs the idea.

But a consultants’ report commissioned by near residents has concluded that people living close to the proposed engine-testing facility will have to endure “unacceptable” levels of noise without a break.

The airport expects to keep KLM UK engineering at the site and safeguard 341 full-time jobs at the company, plus 100 contract jobs and those in the supply chain, with its revised £1.2m plan.

But with City Hall planners recently rejecting plans for a new Asda store on the other side of the city in Hall Road, KLM managing director Paul Chun underscored the value of the new facility to the firm.

He said: “I can appreciate that there is noise involved, but I think the plan the airport has developed uses the best think in noise reduction terms that you could find.

“If the council does not support it, that means the end of our business and I could see our parent group thinking what would be the point of having a UK business anymore, and they might look to move to Schipol or Paris, which would be a shame from the point of view of the jobs and technology we have here.”

But objectors living 500 metres away from the site asked consultants to assess the project, amid noise pollution fears for people in nearby communities.

MAS Environmental, approached by Gill and Peter Cook, of Quaker Farm, in Spixworth, believes the airport’s noise impact analysis needs to consider other factors.

Its report concludes: “The prolonged periods of noise impact without respite are unacceptable and as presently proposed it is not feasible to reduce the noise to acceptable levels where it could continue for such long periods.”

Mr and Mrs Cook successfully challenged previous plans for an engine-testing facility after a judicial review.

Norwich City Council had originally approved the application in 2010.

Norwich Airport officials have been asked by the city council to respond to MAS Environmental’s report.

Broadland is a consultee and in a report to councillors by Phil Courtier, the authority’s head of planning, the engine-testing is predicted to have a “moderate adverse impact” on the quality of life within Spixworth, Horsham St Faith and Old Catton, pending the results of an assessment.

Broadland adds the impact on the quality of life, but not on health, at Quaker Farm is likely to be “significantly adverse” during periods of high-power testing.

Mr Courtier’s report concludes: “The key issue which must be assessed is whether the economic benefits associated with the engine testing facility outweigh the impact upon the quality of life of nearby residents, notably the residents of Quaker Farm.

“In this case, it is concluded that the ability to undertake engine testing at the airport is a crucial aspect of the airport’s commercial interests and it is considered that the opportunity to continue to test engines at the airport is a significant material consideration in this case, which is sufficient to outweigh the impact on the quality of life for the occupiers of Quaker Farm.”

Phil Gadd, Norwich Airport’s property and contracts director, said: “We are, as an airport, confident the planning and noise consultants we’ve brought in have done a proper job.”

18 comments

  • before posting, go to the norwich city website and have a look at the proposal. as i understand it, engine testing of this sort has been happening since world war ii and klm have been happily doing so. the proposal is to move the existing facility to the other side of the runway?

    Report this comment

    Rob Sewards

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Hands up who thinks an airport should be silent? Aviation in general is noisy and has been for a quite a long time. May I suggest if you like the quiet life then do not move near an airport.

    Report this comment

    Denesdrift

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Those peoplke who constantly complain about noise and pollution from the airport , take time to look at the huge volume of traffic and diesel fumes emitted by trucks buses and cars , not to mention standard petrol driven vehicles. To those who keep suggestion build more house are laughable and pathetic, do we realy want another vast area of LEGOLAND HOUSING ESTATES without the open space the airport offers. COLTISHALL is not an option because of the infrastructure, ie roads etc, unless BROADLAND COUNCIL decide to make vast improvements to the site and roads etc, which i doubt will ever happen. embrace the airport and support it, instead of your constant moaning.

    Report this comment

    wickobi

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

  • 'KLM UK warns it could pull out of Norwich if the airport'. Good and then some sense might be forthcoming. There is enough heavy pollution, both fumes and noise already being emitted from the airport. With the proposals to build 3,500 houses (Beyond Green) just downwind from the airport the plans for this ETF are just ludicrous in the extreme and what KLM are stating amounts to no more than blackmail. Lets get real, the airport should be moved to Coltishall where it can expend and grow with little nuisance. As for the current airport well build houses on there. Just why can't we think ahead in this county? We also seem to be stuck with a rotten crumbling archaic infrastructure.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Norwich airport it as the name implies an airport and not an engine testing point. As an airport I have no problem with living within its area as I moved to the location while it was an airport. Maybe they airport should have moved out of the city when it had its chance. As there is much more space in Coltishall for expansion. This would have left loads of room for what councils seem to like best,which is building houses we do not need.

    Report this comment

    paul marris

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • I dont know why people keep going on about moving the airport to Coltishall. Imagine the Nimbyfest should anyone dare suggest building new roads and facilities. Doesnt bear thinking about and, of course its not going to happen.

    Report this comment

    Abraham

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • re-brand your company from klm to Tesco , then you can do what you want when you want in and around Norwich . what is it with our councils ? wanting to throw away good opportunity of work and growth because of the odd complaint ? i grew up in hellesdon and the airport was never a problem , its simple , if you dont like it move !

    Report this comment

    adinorwich

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • airportnoise, perhaps you should get your facts right. It may not happen all day, everyday but when it does it's a problem, and nothing like the regular flight plan. Many of the people that are commenting on this lived in the affected areas before the engine testing area was moved before Omniport gained any planning permission. Look at this as your neighbour doesn't bother applying for planning permission to open up a Tesco's! would you be happy. I and many people choose not to fly from Norwich because they introduced the surcharge to relieve their shareholders of responsibility to maintain an investment.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Now let us have a guess, which way do you think the Greens and some of the Labour collective will vote.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • What is it with these people who think Coltishall could replace Norwich Airport,yes it has a longer runway butthat is all it has. One, it is the wrong side of the City, two, there are no roads there and as we all know to get a road upgraded to the standard required takes a lifetime. So forget Coltishall, it's not going to happen, and let's get this engine testing facility Passed and up and running.

    Report this comment

    Rorping

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Yea great idea Mr Cook, let's not bother testing engines. By my calculations a KLM Fokker 70 suffering from dual engine failure (because we didn't check them due to noise) should impact approximately 6 inches from your front door step on your farm should it take off from the zero nine end. This creating much more noise, smoke, fire, death etc. of course, none of your farm machinery disturbs anyone in spixworth, as we all know its silent. I hope KLM are supported fully.

    Report this comment

    Urbancommander

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

  • el84 is correct. The engine testing station was sited on the Fifers road side of the airport but was conveniently moved when wimpy decided to develop a new housing site. Its present site has been used without planning permission which we all have to abide by. Call their bluff, Paris and Schipol are probably twice the price to test than here.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Rob maybe before posting you should follow your own advice & check before posting. The reason for the current planning application is that Norwich Int was previously carrying out these engine tests illegally, as they lacked the planning permission required to do so. Regardless of the rights & wrongs. This is a planning application to START carrying out legal engine testing & people who live within a few yards of this new legal facility have a right to challenge Norwich Internationals right to do so & at least they are doing so based upon properly carried out tests & not upon rumour or misconception.

    Report this comment

    el84

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • before posting, go to the norwich city website and have a look at the proposal. as i understand it, engine testing of this sort has been happening since world war ii and klm have been happily doing so. the proposal is to move the existing facility to the other side of the runway?

    Report this comment

    Rob Sewards

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • I feel sorry for those who had homes and businesses in Spixworth etc before Air Anglia was operating at its peak and long before KLM was on the scene-especially those who have family businesses tied to the location. But if the economic benefits of the airport outweigh the needs and comfort of the few, those gaining most should have to pay the few who were there before the engine testing was moved more than generous compensation. One wonders if Norwich airport is needed any longer-business connections are now at a minimum ( and the Norwich -Schiphol leg of any long distance journey is an expensive little ride) and maybe Stansted can cope with them. The heli operations could relocate back to Yarmouth generating much needed work and business for hotels.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • airportnoise, perhaps you should get your facts right. It may not happen all day, everyday but when it does it's a problem, and nothing like the regular flight plan. Many of the people that are commenting on this lived in the affected areas before the engine testing area was moved before Omniport gained any planning permission. Look at this as your neighbour doesn't bother applying for planning permission to open up a Tesco's! would you be happy. I and many people choose not to fly from Norwich because they introduced the surcharge to relieve their shareholders of responsibility to maintain an investment.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • engine running !, my husband works for KLM , and i am ashamed of you all. First of all you make it sound like its done all day , every day , its not !!! Its only done 1.when a plane comes in for service , 2 when it is ready to go . So all the noise , only happens every so often. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT !!! I bet all the hypocriates who conplain about the noise , fly from here for their holidays !!!! if you don't like aircraft noise , you should not have moved to live near an airport !!! simple .

    Report this comment

    airportnoise

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • I think Broadland councils objection to the engine testing site is both foolish, misguided and shambolic, its because of them they they allowed housing to be built so close to the airport , and as a result you have people condeming the airport, why move there knowing full well you will be affected by noise?? if the councils in there infinite wisdom refuse planning permission for this facility norwich will loose one of its longest standing companies and the many people it employs.The proposed N.D.R will cause more noise and disturbance than the airport, and i cant see BROADLAND COUNCIL objecting to this!! As long as the jobs of the people who make these ridiculous decisions are unaffected, Those who,s jobs count are thrown in doubt and uncertainty. This airport is a vital lifeline to NORWICH an should not be compromised by idiotic planning control.

    Report this comment

    wickobi

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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