Airliner scrapyard plans on hold at Llanbedr Airfield

An aircraft scrapyard in Colorado, USPlans to turn a former airfield in Snowdonia into a dismantling yard for airliners have been put on hold.

Members of Snowdonia National Park Authority planning committee backed the project at Llanbedr Airfield, near Harlech, on Wednesday.

But it has emerged no final decision can be taken as the Welsh government considers the application.

Park charity Snowdonia Society says the plans are inappropriate for the site.

The park authority has been told that the environment minister has ordered that the application cannot be signed off or approved until the government’s decision.

The airfield employed 130 people when it was closed in 2004.

Decommissioning

The control tower at Llanbedr airfield, near Harlech The airfield employed 130 people at the time it was closed in 2004

Llanbedr Airfield Estates was previously granted a certificate to use the site to test unmanned aerial vehicles at the former military air base.

Now, it has applied to the park, as planning authority, to re-use hangars and associated buildings for aircraft maintenance including decommissioning / disassembly, parts recovery and refitting together with engineering training.

A report says community councils in the surrounding area have given their backing to the plans for the site which would employ up to 50 people within three years, according to the planning document.

It says it would take up to 28 days to dismantle narrow bodied commercial airliners such as a Boeing 737 with bigger Boeing 747 taking up to 42 days.

Snowdonia Society called on the Welsh government to appoint a planning inspector to hold a public inquiry to consider the application rather than the park authority.

European legislation

Snowdonia Society vice chair David Archer said: “Extra jobs and training opportunities would be very welcome, but the impact of such proposals on the environment needs to be properly assessed and appropriately regulated.

“Not only is this site in Wales’ premier national park, part of the airfield is a national nature reserve and right next to it is a special area of conservation, the most highly protected designation under European legislation,” he said.

The park authority held a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss the plans after planning committee members visited the site.

The report recommended approval, subject to conditions, which members voted overwhelmingly to support.

After the airfield closed, Llanbedr Airfield Estates wanted to use the land for private flights and let empty buildings for business use.

Its 2009 application for a certificate of lawful use was refused by the Snowdonia National Park Authority.

However, in December 2010, the Welsh government then applied, as ministers became the freeholders of the site in 2006 when they took over the old Welsh Development Agency.

Last year, the Welsh government was granted a certificate of lawful use, enabling the site to be used to test and develop unmanned aerial vehicles.

Sourced by BBC Wales

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