‘Impossible’ deadline set for Stansted Airport planning application, says campaign group

PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 August 2018

An aerial shot of Stansted Airport. Picture: MARK DAVISON

An aerial shot of Stansted Airport. Picture: MARK DAVISON

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Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted Airport, have succumbed to pressure to provide more information about the local impacts of the current Stansted Airport planning application.

An additional 900 pages of information has now had to be provided.

However, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), a campaign group aiming to stop the expansion of the airport, says UDC has “once again” set “minimal time for public consideration” with a deadline of August 31 for comments.

The planning application, which was submitted by MAG in February, seeks permission increase passenger numbers from 35 million passengers per year to 43 million passengers per year.

MAG is also seeking the removal of a longstanding condition which prevents it from lobbying Government for more night flights.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has been highly critical of the way in which UDC has been intent on rushing through the airport planning application, arguing that there has been minimal time allowed for public consultation at each stage.

UDC had originally intended to have the application decision served on July 18 in line with an agreement between the council and MAG which included financial contributions from Stansted’s owners in return for its planning application being fast-tracked.

Chairman of SSE, Peter Sanders, says the additional 900 pages of information in the application is an “attempt to remedy the earlier shortcomings”.

He said: “The effect of UDC and MAG seeking to rush through the application is that corners were cut from the very beginning through the provision of inadequate information about the impacts of the proposed expansion upon local residents and the local environment.

“August 31 is an impossible deadline to achieve, unless Uttlesford only wants to receive superficial responses. Parish and town councils don’t even meet during August, nor does UDC council or cabinet. August is a lost month so far as a public consultation is concerned.

“It is especially galling because Uttlesford caused this problem in the first place. The council should not have accepted such a deficient planning application back in February. It is a case of more haste, less speed. And we have also now learned that planning officers received most of these 900 pages of additional information in early July and chose not to make it public for almost three weeks.”

Meanwhile, SSE has continued to pursue a High Court challenge aimed at transferring the responsibility for determining the planning application from UDC to the secretary of state. SSE’s formal application for judicial review is expected to be submitted to the High Court by August 9.

Mr Sanders said: “We’ve just been handed 900 more reasons for this planning application to be taken out of UDC’s hands and put into the hands of an expert team appointed by the secretary of state. This will ensure a more professional process and a more realistic timetable for all of the impacts and implications are thoroughly scrutinised.”

In response, a spokesman for UDC said: “Uttlesford District Council reiterates that it was not possible to stick to the original July timescales as stated in the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) as further analysis and work was required, particularly in relation to surface access, noise and air quality.

“Following receipt of revised documents UDC met with the statutory consultees to establish that all of the appropriate and correct information had been provided and checked. Rather than consult on numerous occasions officers considered that a single consultation would prevent confusion to consultees and the public.

“The full information has now been received, and a further period of public consultation is being carried out with statutory consultees, local residents and other interested parties. The PPA is also being renegotiated with MAG and ECC and when it is finalised, the revised timescales for dealing with this application will be announced.”

It is understood the additional information was provided by MAG in response to the public consultation and said it was an opportunity to clarify matters that have been misinterpreted.

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