Uttlesford reacts to London Stansted Airport appeal ruling

A sign on chrome metal: Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

The Secretary of State will be asked to reverse a ruling that Stansted Airport can expand, Uttlesford District Council's ruling party has said, after the airport won an appeal on Wednesday.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) had been refused permission to expand from 35 million to 43 million passengers a year by Uttlesford District Council in January 2020.

The Planning Inspectorate reversed that decision this week and also awarded MAG its full costs for the case

Parties across the political spectrum have criticised decisions made.

An Uttlesford District Council spokesperson said: “We acknowledge the inspectors’ decisions although are of course disappointed.

"We will need to take advice on the justification given for the respective decisions, including consulting with counsel, before commenting further.”

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UDC's ruling party R4U said they will ask the Secretary of State to reverse the decision, pointing to the request to overthrow a decision on a coalmine in Cumbria.

Speaking to Archant's East Anglian Daily Times, UDC leader Councillor John Lodge said: "It's a ludicrous situation. We at Uttlesford have stood up for our constituents' grandchildren.

"We will now require the minister to take a view on this. If the mining of coal in Cumbria is not appropriate despite planning decisions being made, then we must ask the government to intervene and make a decision that's compatible with their own climate agenda."

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R4U party chair Dan Starr said R4U is "bitterly disappointed" with the appeal decision.

Mr Starr said they believed that approving expansion at both Stansted and Heathrow would prevent the government from meeting its legal obligations under the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget law, and he believed it undermined credibility for hosting the COP26 Climate Change summit in Glasgow.

Uttlesford Liberal Democrats said the Planning Inspectorates decision would result in an “environmental and financial disaster” for residents.

Recently elected Liberal Democrat opposition leader Cllr Melvin Caton, councillor for Stansted South and Birchanger, said by the time of the appeal, the R4U position had changed from initially supporting the decision's refusal in January 2020.

Cllr Geoffrey Sell, Uttlesford Lib Dems deputy leader said the issue also created the opportunity for MAG to be awarded costs.

“The strategy followed by the Residents for Uttlesford led council during the appeal has completely backfired on the council and now residents face the environmental disaster of an expanded airport but also the financial burden of the award of costs which could run well into seven figures.”

Cllr Chris Criscione, the leader of Uttlesford's Conservative group, said: "R4U have questions to answer.

"They promised supporters of Stop Stansted Expansion/Stansted Airport Watch that they would stop the expansion and failed.

"Not only have they politicised a planning application that should have remain apolitical, but they have wasted millions of taxpayer’s money pretending to fight an appeal."

Cllr Criscione said R4U's handling of the planning application could lead to calls for leaders to resign.

Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch said: "“My worst fears of potentially millions of pounds of Uttlesford’s taxpayers money being wasted on a fruitless appeal have come to pass."

She added: "Rules around planning and airport expansion are set so they can be applied all over the country.

"Neighbouring MPs and those across the East of England were very supportive of the proposed increase in passenger numbers."

Green Party deputy leader Cllr Barbara Light said it had been a 10-0 vote to refuse the application in January 2020, based on grounds which related to climate change objectives.

Cllr Light said the UK government had included aviation emissions in its carbon targets.

"The Inquiry Inspectors chose to ignore this.

"Members of the Planning Committee, the council and above all our residents, their children and future generations have been let down and betrayed by this outcome.

"The results will be catastrophic for the council and the district. We are deeply disappointed."

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