Engine-testing plans at Norwich airport put back, due to High Court ruling

Bosses at Norwich airport are to submit a new application for an alternative engine testing facility after residents forced a rethink on the plans.

And they say they are confident that a solution will be found which will allow the facility to be moved to a new area at the airport.

People living near the airport won their fight against the plans to move the engine-testing facility when a High Court judge ruled that planning permission granted two years ago should be quashed.

KLM UK Engineering was given the go-ahead by Norwich City Council in 2010 to move its engine-testing facility to the former fire training site at the airport.

But people living nearby complained about noise levels and won the right to a judicial review.

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The original planning permission is now set to be quashed, after Norwich City Council conceded that points in the planning process were unlawful, including the lack of an environmental impact assessment and the way it assessed the noise impacts.

Bosses at Norwich airport said they would now submit a new application for an alternative testing facility and this will include an environmental statement and consultation with local residents.

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Gill Cook and her husband Peter, who own Quaker Farm in Quaker Lane, Spixworth, and the holiday cottages on the farm which is just 500 metres from the site, fought the plans because they claim the new facility would have shattered their peace and tranquillity and threatened their livelihoods.

Mrs Cook said: 'While our challenge was with the planning procedure, it was very important the engine testing facility was never built in the form proposed, as we and other neighbours of the airport in Horsham St Faith, Catton and Spixworth were never going to be afforded the protection we deserved.

'We welcome the fact another planning application is being prepared, this time with a full environmental impact assessment, one of the points raised in the judicial review.'

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said it taken 'positive action' in order to move closer to resolving the issue over engine-testing.

The spokesman said: 'The way is now open for a new application for an alternative testing facility to be submitted. The airport has indicated it intends to submit this by the end of May and this will include an environmental statement and consultation with local residents.

'We have found the airport more than willing to work with us to find an improved solution to enable this essential testing work to continue. We regret this complicated matter has taken so long to resolve, but are confident that together we can make sure the needs of all are met.'

Phil Gadd, the airport's property director, said the current uncertainty over the plans was not helping anybody.

But he added: 'We intend to submit a new planning application by the end of May. We will undertake a full environmental assessment as part of that.

'The new position for the engine-testing facility will be close to the previous site, towards the north-east of the airport site.

'We have gone through an exhaustive process - looking at noise, archaeology, landscape, etc - and found a location that we think ticks the majority of the boxes.'

Engine-testing at the moment is being carried out in an open, existing piece of apron. Before planning was granted in 2010, KLM UK Engineering had been testing at an unauthorised site at the airport for five years.

A KLM spokesman said it had nothing further to add to the city council and airport comments.

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