30th June 2019
The right decision – legally, procedurally and democratically
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has welcomed the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on Friday 28 June to refer the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application back to the Planning Committee for further consideration.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “There is a compelling case for referring this airport planning application back to the Planning Committee in view of all the outstanding issues. I would like to congratulate Uttlesford District Council for making entirely the right decision – legally, procedurally and democratically.”
The proposal to refer the application back to the Planning Committee was tabled by Councillor Paul Fairhurst and seconded by Councillor Anthony Gerard, both representing the Residents for Uttlesford (‘R4U’) party which took control of the Council in May. R4U Leader John Lodge also supported the proposal as did Councillor Alan Dean, the leader of the Liberal Democrats. The proposal received overwhelming cross-party support with 31 councillors voting in favour, only one against and one abstention.
There was loud applause from the packed public gallery when the result of the vote was announced in the Council chamber. Many of those present had signed the residents’ petition calling for the airport planning application to be referred back to the Planning Committee for further consideration. The petition, which was presented to the Council at the start of the meeting, had gathered almost 1,700 signatures in just 17 days, making it the biggest ever petition in the history of the Council.
Peter Sanders added: “It was a truly uplifting day for local democracy but this is only a first step. The Planning Committee will make its decision based purely on the facts, not emotion or popular opinion. SSE’s task now is to provide all the relevant evidence and analysis to the Planning Committee so that it can make the right decision. We will take nothing for granted.”
Peter Sanders concluded: “This is a large and complex planning application and, as we have said many times before, it should have been dealt with nationally rather than by our local council, which is one of the smallest local authorities in the country and has limited resources. There are many new members on the Planning Committee and it will obviously take time for them to familiarise themselves with an application which comprises some 2,400 documents amounting to around 13,000 pages. This cannot be rushed.”
The 2018 Stansted Airport planning application sought approval for the airport to expand to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers – almost as much as today’s Gatwick. The application was conditionally approved by UDC Planning Committee in November 2018 by the narrowest of margins with five councillors voting in favour and five voting against. It was approved on the Chairman’s (additional) casting vote.
UDC has still not been able to grant final approval because of concerns that the conditions laid down by the Planning Committee in November 2018 have not been met. In addition, before granting final approval, the Council 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.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT
- Peter Sanders, SSE Chairman, T 01799 520411; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brian Ross, SSE Deputy Chairman: 01279 814961; (M) 07850 937143 email@example.com
- SSE Campaign Office: 01279 870558; firstname.lastname@example.org