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Stansted Airport Appeal Decisions Could Result in an “Environmental and Financial Disaster”

March 15, 2021 4:43 PM
By Alan Dean

Uttlesford Liberal Democrats fear that the decision on the appeal against further expansion at Stansted Airport could result in an environmental and financial disaster for the Uttlesford district and its residents.

At the conclusion of the public examination into the appeal against the District Council's refusal to grant permission for the airport to expand to 43million passengers per annum(mppa), the local Liberal Democrats have expressed dismay and doubts about the strategy that the council adopted during the appeal hearing.

The leader of the Lib Dem group on the district council, Cllr Alan Dean, said: "Immediately after the Planning Committee made the decision to refuse the Airport application in January 2020, the R4U leader of the Council, Cllr John Lodge, said 'The UDC administration resolutely supports its Planning Committee's decision to refuse the expansion of Stansted Airport. It found material and sound planning reasons why the application should not be approved'.

"We have it in writing from the R4U-run council cabinet that 'the very planning authority that has already refused the airport expansion......is now fighting on appeal to defend its refusal'.

"Those words are now looking very hollow, after the airport owner's counsel, Thomas Hill QC, claimed on the final day of the Inquiry last Friday that 'UDC's position at the close of the evidence is clear. It has abandoned any attempt to defend the reasons for refusal promulgated by its Planning Committee'. Mr Hill also noted that no member of the Planning Committee has been called to give evidence to support the Committee decision."

Stansted South and Birchanger Lib Dem Councillor Ayub Khan added: "Not only hasUttlesford failed to support its own Planning Committee; it has created the opportunity for MAG, Stansted's owners, to ask for costs because of the Council's "unreasonable behaviour". They even quote Cllr Neil Hargraves, the R4U portfolio holder for Finance, who commentedin July 2019 that £3m of reserves were available to cover costs if the Stansted Airport application were taken to appeal. All residents in Uttlesford now face not only the possibility of the environmental disaster of an expanded airport, but also the financial impact of an award of costs running into seven figures because of the R4U-run council's perfidious behaviour".