PUBLISHED: 17:15 07 February 2007 | UPDATED: 21:32 29 May 2010
Councillor Richard Wallace raises the question in the Postbag on January 25 that is at the root of the debate over growth of Stansted Airport. Should a local planning authority such as Uttlesford roll over and approve every planning application that fall
Councillor Richard Wallace raises the question in the Postbag on January 25 that is at the root of the debate over growth of Stansted Airport.
Should a local planning authority such as Uttlesford roll over and approve every planning application that falls in with government policy?
Councils approve many applications, but refuse some because they are in the wrong place or would have an undesirable impact on the area. But to suggest, as Cllr Wallace does, that controversial planning applications are never approved at local level is far from correct.
Cllr Wallace is a member of Stansted Parish Council, which opposes airport growth. Dissent in democracy must, of course, be allowed. The leader of Essex County Council, where Cllr Wallace was a former member, announced that Uttlesford should not have refused the application by BAA.
His lordship also seems to take the view that local decision makers should always agree with what the government tells them. Yet even the leader Lord Hanningfield says he opposes a second runway despite the government's commitment to that project. At least all Uttlesford members are consistent and think both are unacceptable.
Councillors display greater understanding of the issues than our national government politicians, who run away in fear from telling people they should fly less.
This greater understanding comes from hours and days and months of listening to the pros and cons about noise, climate change, unreliable railways and so on.
There is a fundamental contradiction in the attitude that it is not okay to double the number of runways, but that doubling the carbon emissions from an existing runway at a time of approaching climate change crisis is okay.
Cllr Alan Dean