An application to update facilities at Ceredigion’s West Wales Airport has been submitted to county planners, with hopes five major aerospace companies will be operating from it next year.

West Wales Airport Ltd of Blaenannerch seeks permission for a replacement of the site’s Visual Control Tower and existing buildings with new tower and modern hangar facility (Hangar 3), including an extended taxiway and ancillary works.

A statement of need, submitted with the application, says: “West Wales Airport (WWA) at Blaenannerch has become well recognised for its unique capabilities in the Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) sector.

“This has created a high level of demand for its services from a wide variety of major UK manufacturers and operators. From April 2024, five major aerospace companies have expressed a wish to operate from the airport.

“These companies will be permanent, if not long-term residents on the site, as well as significant local employers.

“Currently, all the available ground-based accommodation that can access airside is now fully and permanently utilised. There is not even any storage capacity for the airport’s own fire service and airfield maintenance equipment.

“To accommodate the imminent further growth in the customer base, there is an urgent need to construct additional ground-based facilities in the form of an additional hangar and a separate control tower.”

The statement says the existing buildings are no longer fit for purpose and a new control tower will function as the centre for radar data, communication systems and the control of all flight operations.

“Most importantly, it will enable significantly improved visibility across the airfield, allowing Air Traffic Control (ATC) to manage an expected increase in airport activity more efficiently,” the statement adds.

“WWA is a unique business that enables its customers to operate RPAS both on the airport and in the surrounding segregated airspace. It does this by supplying fully managed working accommodation for their equipment and staff, together with all the required airport services, which includes radar for the air traffic management of more than 2,500 square miles of segregated airspace.

“Unlike an ordinary airport that simply accommodates the coming and going of manned aircraft, WWA delivers all the ground-based needs of its customers, allowing them to operate from their own secure and exclusive facilities. Therefore, WWA could be described is an enabler, that without it, companies would not be able to access segregated airspace, invest in their RPAS operations or have any need to employ personnel to support that investment.”

The statement that, to address an on-going requirement for ground-based accommodation, WWA has teamed with Welsh Government (WG) and Ceredigion County Council (CCC) to create a Masterplan for the combined area of land owned by WWA and WG.