Spixworth couple win judicial review in engine testing saga

A couple who run holiday cottages from a farm in a village on the outskirts of Norwich have won the right to a judicial review into planning permission for an aircraft engine testing ground near to where they live.

Controversial plans to allow KLM UK Engi-neering and Norwich International Airport to move its engine-testing facility to the former fire training site at the airport were given the go-ahead last year by Norwich City Council.

The move angered residents close to the new site who said that the testing would not only shatter their peace and tranquillity but also threaten livelihoods. 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, have fought the proposals all the way.

The couple have now been granted the right by a High Court judge to challenge the decision to allow tests by KLM UK Engineering.

Mrs Cook said: 'We're very pleased we've got permission to proceed but its not something to be undertaken lightly. Potentially it's very expensive, but we feel we can't afford to do nothing – it's affecting our lives so much and we're worried about our livelihoods.

'The holiday cottages are in the middle of the farm and, depending on which way the wind is blowing, we're affected [by noise] at Quaker Farm and the cottages.'

Mrs Cook and her husband Peter said they would argue that four points in the planning process were unlawful, including the lack of an environmental impact assessment and the way it assessed the noise impacts.

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Mrs Cook added: 'We feel particularly badly let down by Norwich City Council. It just seems so wrong that someone can impose this level of noise on us.

'We're the nearest property but there's lots of people in Horsham St Faith and Catton who are affected by all this. We want to get the word out to those who say there's no point in complaining because they're going to do it anyway – we're actually having a go at trying to stop it.'

Before planning was granted KLM UK Engineering had been testing at an unauthorised site at the airport for five years.

In May last year city councillors agreed KLM and the airport could move the site and continue restricted testing but only at 78 decibels or below. At the time KLM argued 400 jobs depended on the facility.

Amy Lyall, from Norwich City Council, said: 'We are aware that there is to be a judicial review of this case, and we are waiting for the court to set a date, which is expected to be in a few months.' She said the council could not comment further on the case.

A spokesman for Norwich International Airport said it was aware of the legal challenge by the Cooks and although it was a matter between the couple and the council it would be keeping a close eye on the process.