24th June 2019
Day of reckoning for airport expansion decision
An Extraordinary Meeting of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on Friday 28 June at 4.00pm will decide whether to authorise officers to grant final approval to Manchester Airports Group for the expansion of Stansted Airport to a throughput of 43 million passengers per annum – almost as much as today’s Gatwick.
The meeting will also consider a counter-proposal set out in the biggest ever residents’ petition to be presented to UDC. The petition, which was organised by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), calls for the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application to be referred back to the UDC Planning Committee. The petition attracted over 1,000 signatures in its first five days and now has close to 1,500 signatures.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “The Council’s rulebook requires a petition to receive 50 signatures to be validated and that’s what we first set out to achieve. We never expected to get anything like 1,500 signatures in such a short space of time. That’s 30 times more than the minimum number needed by UDC and almost seven times as many as any previous UDC petition.”
The airport planning application was conditionally approved by UDC Planning Committee in November 2018 by the narrowest of margins. The Committee was split down the middle with five voting in favour and five voting against and it was only approved on the Chairman’s (additional) casting vote.
Final approval has not yet been granted, however, because there are conflicting views as to whether the conditions laid down by the Planning Committee have been met. Council officers insist that all the conditions have been satisfied and they now wish to grant final approval but SSE has identified a number of issues which are still outstanding. There are divided views amongst councillors as to whether the conditions have been met, and legal opinion is also divided.
In addition, before granting final approval, the Planning Committee has a duty to consider any new material factors and/or changes in circumstances that have arisen since November 2018 when the application was conditionally approved. SSE has identified that there are indeed a number of new material factors which need to be considered.
The residents’ petition makes no judgment as to whether the airport planning application should be approved or refused. It is purely a request for the correct procedure to be followed by referring the matter back to the Planning Committee so that they can take stock of the position.
Peter Sanders added: “This is a major test for the new administration at Uttlesford Council, which so many local residents have put their faith in. It is understood that, despite pressure from officers to authorise final approval, a majority of councillors support the call made in the residents’ petition for the airport planning application to be referred back to the Planning Committee.”
The Extraordinary Council Meeting starts at 4.00 pm on 28 June and is open to the public. It is expected that SSE will be invited to present the residents’ petition at the start of the meeting.
- Only individuals who are electors in the District of Uttlesford are eligible to sign.
- Further information about the Extraordinary Council Meeting to be held at 4.00pm on Friday 28 June can be found at https://uttlesford.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=159&MId=5307
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT