Scottow Parish Council objects to “crazy” plan to dig up runways at former RAF Coltishall

The ends of Coltishall runway which are earmarked for ripping up to make into rubble.  Picture: MIKE PAGE The ends of Coltishall runway which are earmarked for ripping up to make into rubble. Picture: MIKE PAGE

Thursday, February 20, 2014
6:30 AM

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.

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Simon Shaw, chairman of Scottow Parish CouncilSimon Shaw, chairman of Scottow Parish Council

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.

10 comments

  • I, personally, buried Beryllium in a paint tin (the correct procedure in those days) somewhere on Coltishall. The council should never have bought this, they have no business plan and haven't the vaguest idea what to do with it. If you have a real job you work in PRIVATE industry, if you can't get one of those, you work for the council!

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    Windless

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Two words: Contaminated Land ! Having served at Coltishall during two tours in the RAF I can vouch that there have been numerous spills of aviation fuel and other hazardous chemicals or lubricants on that airfield - a lot of which happened prior to Crown Immunity being abolished in the 1990's. Under current Environmental Protection legislation, digging up that lot is going to akin to opening a very very expensive Pandora's box. Lafarge may well pay a tidy sum to obtain the aggregate from the runway surface; however, NCC will then be left footing the bill for the subsequent clean-up operation.

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    Lucioperca

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Once again a total lack of democracy and who gave the County Council a mandate to waste over £4 million of our money in their attempt to destroy our famous Battle of Britain airfield as an active airfield. Thank goodness that English Heritage understands the situation.

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    Broadsman

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Well said Alecto; anyone with one iota of knowledge and understanding of Norfolk will accept that old airbases inherently impose huge restrictions on future viable use but then when have County Councillors recently used knowledge and understanding in their deliberations? This proposal will turn out to be hugely expensive and even more disruptive than currently feared.

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    guella

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Its ridiculous how the decision to but RAF coltishall was made by a small caball of Tories at County Hall, who then promptly lost control of the County Council and dumped the problem on to other parties to deal with.

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    Nich

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • I think that I should feel extremely uncomfortable about sitting on the NCC Planning Committee when the people I have been elected to repr,esent stronly object to the grant of planning permission. Surely Cllr Dixon should declare himself unavailable to sit, and then speak out against the proposals on the day.

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    Nemesis

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Why is it that if you speak to landowners who have old WWII runways on their land they tell you that there is no way they can dig them up. It is prohibitively expensive. Yet when it comes to these comedians messing about with our money it is suddenly affordable? Yes, that's right. They couldn't care less how they waste our money. Don't you think the landowners would have dug up the runways if they thought they could break even let alone make a profit on the exercise

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    alecto

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Once again a total lack of democracy and who gave the County Council a mandate to waste over £4 million of our money in their attempt to destroy our famous Battle of Britain airfield as an active airfield. Thank goodness that English Heritage understands the situation.

    Report this comment

    Broadsman

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • NCC needs to listen for once, I know they don't usually bother but people live here and they will be affected. Why should they be put out because of the greed of a council who really has no idea what's so ever

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    Sweet cheeks

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • It seems to me that the major objective of NCC's plans are to obliterate any possibility of a major industrial future for the site. Whilst a large scale aviation related endeavour has seemed unlikely, if they rip up the runway then they can ensure that it definitely will never happen. Likewise they really don't want to open up access to the northern end of the runway because it would show there could be an easy route from the B1150 to the hanger areas. I expect the plan is, and always was, for hundreds of new houses. New housing with cosy little agreements with developers seems to be the only thing that those in charge really care about.

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    Cyril the Canary

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

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

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