Stansted Airport appeal decisions results in an “environmental and financial disaster” for Uttlesford.
By Melvin Caton
Uttlesford Liberal Democrats have said that the decisions of the Planning Inspectors allowing expansion at Stansted Airport to 43 million passengers per annum and the award of costs against Uttlesford District Council will result in an "environmental and financial disaster" for residents in the Uttlesford district.
At the conclusion of the public examination into the appeal in March the local Liberal Democrats expressed dismay at the strategy that the council adopted during the appeal hearing.
The recently elected leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition Cllr Melvin Caton and the councillor for Stansted South and Birchanger 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 Ctte decision to refuse the expansion of Stansted Airport. It found material and sound planning reasons why the application should not be approved".
Yet, as claimed by the airport owner's counsel Thomas Hill QC on the final day of the Inquiry, "UDC's position at the close of the evidence is clear, it has abandoned any attempt to defend the reasons for refusal promulgated by it's Committee". The Planning Inspectors agreed with this assessment. In their decision they say "it became clear that the council accepted that planning permission should be granted for the development, subject to conditions and obligations."
Cllr Geoffrey Sell ,the deputy leader of the Lib Dems on Uttlesford added "Not only did Uttlesford fail to support their Planning Committee over airport expansion they created the opportunity for MAG, Stansted owners, to be awarded costs because of the Council's "unreasonable behaviour". Their counsel even quoted Cllr Neil Hargraves, the R4U portfolio holder for Finance, comments in July 2019 that £3m of reserves were available to cover 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".