Carlisle Airport expansion plan backed by Cumbria council

27.11.2008   (News & Star)

By Julian Whittle

Businessman Andrew Tinkler’s plans for Carlisle Airport have received a boost
from Cumbria County Council.

Andrew Tinkler photo

Andrew Tinkler

Carlisle City Council will decide next month if the £20m scheme for an Eddie
Stobart HQ and warehousing should get planning consent.

But the county council has to be consulted first. Its development control committee
voted 11-0 in favour.

However, they say that Mr Tinkler’s company, Stobart Air, should sign a binding
agreement to upgrade the airport’s runway and passenger terminal.

There was a concern that, if Stobart Air was given planning permission with no
strings attached, the airport facilities might be neglected.

Planning officer Iain Fairlamb said: "The true economic value of this proposal
will only be realised if the airport operates as an airport and develops markets
for passengers and freight.

"A [legally-binding] agreement would ensure that the current airport infrastructure
is improved and maintained.

"That is a key recommendation."

The county council also wants Stobart Air to provide a bus service, improve landscaping
and adapt the warehousing to allow use by air freight.

And it will ask the city council to ensure that the impact on wildlife and ecology
is taken into account.

Stobart Air has warned that the airport will close in 2011 if its plans are turned
down. It adds that 565 Eddie Stobart and Stobart Rail jobs at Kingstown, Carlisle,
depend directly on the scheme going ahead.

Councillor John Collier, who represents Dalston, urged yesterday’s meeting in
Kendal to take the economic impact into account.

He said: "The airport has always been something that was going to happen but
never did.

"We now have a golden opportunity to bring jobs in.  In these tight times, any
employment has to be good. We should raise no objections."

The latest airport scheme is a watered-down version of plans approved by the
city council in April, only to be called in for a public inquiry.

Mr Tinkler then withdrew it.

This time, the county council argues, there is no need for an inquiry because
the new proposals do not breach planning policy.

Mr Fairlamb said: "The application in its current form meets the requirements
of strategic planning policy, which allows the site to be used for employment."