30th July 2018
Another 900 reasons to question Uttlesford competence
Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted Airport, have finally succumbed to pressure to provide more information about the local impacts of the current Stansted Airport planning application. An additional 900 pages of information has now had to be provided.
However, once again, UDC wants to provide minimal time for public consideration of the new information and has set a deadline of 31 August for comments.
The planning application, which was submitted by MAG in February, seeks permission for a 66% increase in Stansted passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to last year. MAG also seeks the removal of a longstanding condition which prevents it from lobbying Government for more night flights.
From the very start of the process Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has been highly critical of the way in which UDC has been intent on rushing through the airport planning application, with minimal time allowed for public consultation at each stage. UDC had originally intended to have the application all ‘done and dusted’ by 18th July in line with a controversial agreement between the Council and MAG which included financial contributions from Stansted’s owners in return for its planning application being fast-tracked.
More haste less speed
The effect of UDC and MAG seeking to rush through the application is that corners were cut from the very beginning through the provision of inadequate information about the impacts of the proposed expansion upon local residents and the local environment. The additional 900 pages of information is an attempt to remedy the earlier shortcomings.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “This is an impossible deadline to achieve, unless Uttlesford only wants to receive superficial responses. Parish & Town Councils don’t even meet during August, nor does UDC Council or Cabinet. August is a lost month so far as a public consultation is concerned.”
Peter Sanders continued: “It is especially galling because Uttlesford caused this problem in the first place. The Council should not have accepted such a deficient planning application back in February. It is a case of more haste, less speed. And we have also now learned that planning officers received most of these 900 pages of additional information in early July and chose not to make it public for almost three weeks.”
Meanwhile, SSE continues to pursue a High Court challenge aimed at transferring the responsibility for determining the planning application from UDC to the Secretary of State. SSE”s formal application for judicial Review is expected to be submitted to the High Court by 9th August.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders concluded: “We’ve just been handed 900 more reasons for this planning application to be taken out of UDC’s hands and put into the hands of an expert team appointed by the Secretary of State. This will ensure a more professional process and a more realistic timetable for all of the impacts and implications are thoroughly scrutinised.”
- Stansted Airport handled 25.9mppa in 2017. It presently has permission for 35mppa and its planning application asks for this to be raised to 43mppa.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT