29th April 2019

Sheer Incompetence from start to finish

Uttlesford District Council (‘UDC’) has at last conceded that it cannot grant final approval to the current Stansted Airport planning application before the local elections on Thursday 2nd May.

The current Conservative administration had intended to rush through final approval of the Airport planning application last Friday (26th April) but has been prevented from doing so. At the end of an Extraordinary Council Meeting at UDC’s Saffron Walden offices last Thursday evening (25th April) a procedural motion, put forward by Residents for Uttlesford (‘R4U’) councillors, supported by Liberal Democrats and two out of the 20 Conservative councillors present, foiled the current administration’s attempt to approve the planning application before the local elections on 2nd May.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “It is beyond comprehension why our own local council wanted to rush through approval of this planning application by accepting a totally inadequate package of local safeguards and community benefits. The draft Section 106 Agreement which contained the proposed safeguards and benefits did not even meet the minimum requirements set down by the Council’s own Planning Committee.”

Ahead of the meeting SSE had provided all UDC councillors with detailed briefing notes explaining the legal deficiencies in the proposed Section 106 Agreement and demonstrating that many of the proposals put forward by Stansted Airport, which the current UDC administration were prepared to accept, were grossly inferior to comparable arrangements at other major UK airports.

Peter Sanders added: “Thankfully, there will now be an opportunity to look at this afresh in a less frenzied atmosphere after the local elections have run their course, whatever that course may be.”

Urging councillors to reject any further delay in issuing final approval to Stansted Airport, Council Leader Howard Rolfe told councillors at Thursday night’s meeting that accepting the motion would most likely lead to a charge of non-determination with “a potential cost even as much as £1 million”.

“If that were to be the case”, concluded Peter Sanders, “the fault would lie entirely at the Council’s own door. This planning application has been incompetently handled from start to finish. It was always far too complex to be dealt with locally. It should have been passed to the Secretary of State for national consideration at the very outset.”

Meanwhile, SSE continues to press ahead with its High Court proceedings with the aim of forcing either the Transport Secretary or the Communities Secretary (or both) to take direct charge of the current Stansted Airport planning application. The Judge is expected to announce dates for the Judicial Review case at the next update hearing on 23rd May.


  1. The proposed Section 106 Agreement can be found on the UDC website at can be found here on the UDC website.
  2. The two Conservative councillors who – together with R4U and the Liberal Democrats – supported the motion to delay issuing a final decision on the Stansted Airport planning application until after the local elections were Keith Artus (Hatfield Broad Oak & The Hallingburys) and Mark Lemon (Hatfield Heath).



Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits