Drilling work at RAF Coltishall sparks runway fears
- Credit: Mike Page
Campaigners fear an important reminder of Norfolk's war-time past will be lost after county hall bosses carried out drilling work at RAF Coltishall.
Bore holes have been dug into the runway at the former Battle of Britain station to gauge its depth and material construction, sparking concerns it will be ripped up.
But Norfolk County Council (NCC), which bought the site for £4m, has stressed the 'sample holes' in the runway, perimeter track and other hard standing are 'simply' tests, and did not signal that the landing strip was going to be demolished.
Digging up the runway for aggregate is being considered among several possibilities for the base, which also includes returning some land to farming, building new homes and providing space for businesses.
The council has also said the strip could be kept and lined with solar panels but the drilling work has got some worried.
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Steve Riley, chairman of the joint residents' committees representing Badersfield, said: 'If you intend on leaving the runway in situ you wouldn't spend money on doing these tests. Although nothing's been decided there's a clear intention, from what we have been told and looking at the tests in particular, to dig the runway up.'
Mr Riley said residents were also fearful about possible contamination in the strip as well as the historical impact it would have if torn up.
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Others, however, were pleased to see NCC taking action in progressing its master plan for the site.
Glyn Williams, district councillor for Worstead, said: 'From the very early days when I became involved we were always about wanting something done as soon as possible with the site. So we were pleased when NCC purchased it and, I suppose, pleased they're now getting on with something. It needs to be a balanced development, that delivers jobs and housing but equally protects the important parts of the heritage.'
Neil Smith, Coltishall project manager, said since buying the site, NCC had been 'open and honest' about the possibilities for the base.
He added: 'We are fully aware of the requirements involved regarding possible aggregate recovery and currently no planning application has been submitted.'