Airport inquiry: QC states his case

PUBLISHED: 16:22 13 June 2007 | UPDATED: 21:43 29 May 2010

THE inquiry into the planning permission by BAA to raise the number of people who can use Stansted Airport to 35 million people per annum got under way last week. It is being held after the decision by Uttlesford District Councillors to refuse the origina

THE inquiry into the planning permission by BAA to raise the number of people who can use Stansted Airport to 35 million people per annum got under way last week.

It is being held after the decision by Uttlesford District Councillors to refuse the original application on November 29 last year.

At the opening of the inquiry at Endeavour House, Stansted Airport on May 30, barrister Thomas Hill QC pointed out the 10 million passengers per annum (mppa) increase which BAA is asking for is more than the total number of passengers passing through many of the UK's leading regional airports.

A spokesman for Stop Stansted Expansion said: "Economics will be major battleground for the inquiry. In the past, BAA has been able to claim that airport expansion brings major benefits to the UK economy.

"However, the boom in cheap overseas leisure flights has changed the economics dramatically such that expansion at Stansted would be a net drain on the UK economy, rather than a benefit."

Mr Hill told the inquiry: "Stansted is predicted to remain an airport predominantly serving the low-cost leisure market.

"The area is one with negligible unemployment and the only area benefiting significantly from an employment perspective - Harlow - is predicted by BAA to receive an additional 170 to 190 jobs."

Since submitting its planning application in April 2006, BAA has maintained the proposals would increase passenger numbers to only 35mppa. However, SSE and other opponents have claimed it could mean up to 50mppa. In March 2007 BAA admitted 35mppa would not be the upper limit.

Giving evidence on Friday, UDC's director of development John Mitchell said the airport operator's application was turned down for sound planning reasons.

"Uttlesford and the surrounding area is rich in its landscape and built heritage. The character of the area's settlements owes much to the survival and juxtaposition of historic buildings of successive periods. One of the worst affected settlements, Thaxted, is of national significance for its architecture, history and relationship to the landscape," he said.

"The frequent passing of aircraft in such a setting is unacceptable."

Mr Mitchell told the inquiry that in determining the application, Uttlesford District Council had carried out extensive public engagement and listened carefully to the views of those both for and against the expansion.

He said: "BAA has not provided an adequate analysis in respect of Quality of Life Assessment. Nor has it provided sufficient evidence to support the position that other assessments have covered the issues adequately."

BAA's barrister, Michael Humphries QC, cross-examined some of those giving evidence to the inquiry, which is expected to run until October.

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