Firm hopes to recycle planes at Norwich International Airport

KLM Engineering is hoping to secure permission to recycle planes at Norwich International Airport.

KLM Engineering is hoping to secure permission to recycle planes at Norwich International Airport. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Aircraft which have reached the end of their useful life could be taken apart and recycled in Norwich, if proposals for the city's airport get off the ground.

KLM Engineering, which is based at Norwich International Airport, has lodged plans with Norfolk County Council for the airport recycling facility.

Proposed for the south east corner of the airport, the plans are to create an area on a 0.34 hectare site where planes can be dismantled.

The facility would include a main pad, where the plane being taken apart will be stood, along with hard standings and an access road.

The majority of the aircraft would be reused or recycled, but 'small volumes' of material would have to go to landfill, according to documents lodged with the county council in support of the application.

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Fuel would have to be drained, hazardous materials identified and removed and a machine used to tear down the frame of the planes.

Once reduced to manageable size, the metal will be loaded onto skips and vehicles to be taken away for recycling.

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Bosses at KLM Engineering say, in the supporting documents, that if it gets permission to recycle planes, five new jobs will be created.

They will join the existing 348 full-time and 10 part-time KLM Engineering staff based at the airport.

The company already refurbishes planes and says being able to recycle ones which cannot be returned to service would boost business further.

About 12 planes a year would be recycled, bosses estimate, although it could be as many as 24 each year.

The proposed hours of opening for storage, maintenance and component recovery is for 24 hours a day, but the final destruction would be during daylight hours.

KLM Engineering has applied for a permit from the Environment Agency, but Norfolk County Council has said it does not need to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

Business secretary Vince Cable visited KLM Engineering in April to see how apprentices are being employed by the company.

Earlier this year, permission was granted to the airport for an engine testing site – which bosses had said was crucial to the airport's future.

Airport chief executive Andrew Bell had warned KLM UK might look to leave the airport if permission was not granted.

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