Plans for state-of-the-art engine testing facility at Cambridge Airport approved

News release from 22 November 2017, 4:35pm

Joint news release with South Cambridgeshire District Council

Plans for a new, bespoke engine testing bay at Cambridge Airport have been approved.

The new test bay, called a ground run enclosure, will significantly reduce the number of people living across Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire who are currently exposed to noise from aircraft engine testing.

The bay, which will be 20 metres tall, will be used while planes run their engines on the ground, to test performance and systems. The testing of engines is an integral part of maintenance activities carried out at Cambridge Airport which support around 1,600 jobs directly, and an estimated 7,000 positions indirectly.

The new enclosure will be able to accommodate the largest type of aircraft currently being maintained at the airport, including the Boeing 777 and 747 airliners and the Hercules C-130 military transporter.

The four-sided open topped steel bay, lined with acoustic panels to deflect noise from planes upwards, was given permission at a meeting of the Joint Development Control Committee last week (on Wednesday 15 November).

Planes will be reversed into the enclosure so they face the prevailing south-westerly wind direction at the airport during engine testing.

The facility will replace the existing engine run-up-bay, which uses an earth mound next to Newmarket Road to absorb noise from engine testing.

Crucially, this new testing bay will allow the occupation of the 1,300 new homes on the Wing development, which is currently being planned by Marshall on land north of Newmarket Road.

Planning permission was granted for Wing last year with the requirement that engine testing at the existing run up bay must stop, before any of the new homes are occupied.

The relocation will also help to facilitate the delivery of up to 1,200 homes on land north of Cherry Hinton, a development which is subject to an emerging draft Supplementary Planning Document that has recently been out to public consultation.

Cllr David Bard, Chair of the Joint Development Control Committee and South Cambridgeshire District Councillor, said: “We were pleased to approve this application, which will help support the continued employment of thousands of people.

“We have carefully considered the environmental implications that this new testing bay will have, and it is great news that it will mean thousands fewer people living nearby are exposed to significant noise.

“Marshall of Cambridge is one of the area’s key employers, with a distinguished history, and I’m pleased we have been able to work with them to bring this scheme forward.”

Cllr Kevin Blencowe, Vice-Chair of the Joint Development Control Committee and Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, said: “The developer team have worked hard to design a state of the art enclosure that maximises noise reduction as far as possible.

“The delivery of much needed housing, including social housing, on the Wing and land north of Cherry Hinton developments, and the critical function of engine testing to the continued airport operation, are also important considerations that we have had to weigh up.”

Richard Oakley, Development Director of Marshall Group Properties, said: “We are delighted that this new state-of-the-art facility has been approved, recognising the dual benefits of helping to reduce the impact of our business operations on our neighbours and enabling much needed housing to the east of Cambridge.

“We hope to start construction in the early part of 2018 with a view to making operational use of the facility by Spring 2019.”