March 10 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Thursday, February 20, 2014
More than 50 people crammed into Badersfield’s church hall last night and applauded Scottow Parish Council’s unanimous objections to a planning application for former RAF Coltishall.
An extraordinary meeting of the parish council discussed Norfolk County Council contractor Lafarge Tarmac’s application to dig up the runway extensions on the Battle of Britain air base.
The plan could see up to 100 HGV movements a day through the residential community of Badersfield as an estimated 140,000 tonnes of aggregate was taken away for recycling in county road projects.
The county council hopes the scheme would help it recoup some of the £4.1m it spent buying the site.
An hour-long discussion involving residents and parish councillors, before the vote, turned into an outpouring of anger, bewilderment and suspicion all aimed at the county council, with no-one present talking in favour of the application.
Steve Riley, Badersfield spokesman on the council’s RAF Coltishall community liaison reference group, condemned the “undemocratic” decision to dig up the runway which he claimed had never been discussed at a cabinet meeting and appeared to have been agreed behind closed doors at County Hall.
Mr Riley also said that throughout liaison group meetings and during an eight-week public consultation period about the future of the base the county council had always talked about removing aggregate via the north end of the runway, avoiding the Badersfield community. The route proposed in the application, through a housing estate, was “wholly wrong”.
Parish councillor Jason Baxter said the base’s importance in the Second World War was recognised but he was concerned that not enough attention had been paid to its Cold War significance. Destroying the runway extensions would “chip away” at this heritage.
County councillor Nigel Dixon, who represents Scottow, advised the parish council to stick to planning reasons in its formal objection to the plan.
He suggested that these could be the impact of runway removal on the RAF Coltishall conservation area, linked to English Heritage’s similar objections.
Mr Dixon also said the parish council could register its fears about contamination and ask for an environmental impact assessment to be carried out.
As a member of the planning committee which would decide the application, Mr Dixon said it would be wrong of him to discuss the plan’s merits.
Concerns raised among members of the public present included the danger of HGVs in an area with large numbers of children, and noise and pollution during the 18-month scheme.
There was widespread agreement that removing any part of the runway would wreck chances of attracting aircraft businesses to the site and condemnation of the county council for its lack of a business plan.
Parish council chairman Simon Shaw concluded: “I think everyone is in total agreement. It would be crazy to remove the runway and certainly the route they have chosen is absolutely ludicrous.”
The county council will decide the application on March 21.