DfT and MHCLG both reject application to have Stansted expansion called in
There was a Planning Inquiry from January to March, into the rejection by Uttlesford council of the application by Stansted airport to increase its annual air passenger cap from 35 million passengers, to 43 mppa. Local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) asked the government (two departments) to call in the application, for consideration by government, rather than just by Uttlesford District Council. Now SSE has received letters from both the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Department for Transport, refusing the request for a call in. The MHCLG said “the Secretary of State has carefully considered your request but has decided in this case not to issue a direction for joint determination under s266 of the 1990 Act. The jurisdiction of the case therefore remains with the appointed planning Inspectors, and the Planning Inspectorate will inform you of a decision in due course.” Grant Shapps (DfT) said that “the application is not of sufficient scale or significance to justify a direction. I will therefore not be making a direction in relation to this appeal.” SSE said they were unsurprised, and concerned that this may set a bad precedent for appeals by other airports, where the planned increase in annual passengers is lower than that at Stansted.
Letter from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street
Tel: 0303 444 3594
Mr Peter Sanders
Chairman Stop Stansted Expansion
Via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 26 May 2021
Dear Mr Sanders,
Planning Appeal APP/C1570/W/20/3256619
Further to your letter of 23 April addressed to the Secretary of State, I refer to your request to issue a direction for joint determination under section 266 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990, in respect of the above appeal. Joint determination would be for the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Transport.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has carefully considered your request but has decided in this case not to issue a direction for joint determination under s266 of the 1990 Act.
The jurisdiction of the case therefore remains with the appointed planning Inspectors, and the Planning Inspectorate will inform you of a decision in due course.
I understand that the Secretary of State for Transport is considering your request and will respond directly to you.
As with a previous request for consideration of a direction made by the Manchester Airport Group, I will share a copy of this letter with the Planning Inspectorate for dissemination to interested parties.
Andrew Lynch Andrew Lynch
Decision Officer, Plnning Casework Unit (sic)
Letter from Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, Grant Shapps
From the Secretary of State
The Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
Tel: 0300 330 3000
Web site: www.gov.uk/dft
Stop Stansted Expansion
PO Box 311
Herts CM22 6PY
26 May 2021
Request under section 266 of the Town and Country Planning Act
1990 relating to planning appeal APP/C1570/W/20/3256619
Appeal of the decision by Uttlesford District Council to refuse permission for
airfield works comprising two new taxiway links to the existing runway (a
Rapid Access Taxiway and a Rapid Exit Taxiway), six additional remote
aircraft stands (adjacent Yankee taxiway); and three additional aircraft
stands (extension of the Echo Apron) to enable combined airfield operations
of 274,000 aircraft movements (of which not more than 16,000 movements
would be Cargo Air Transport Movements (CATM) and a throughput of 43
million terminal passengers, in a 12-month calendar period at Stansted
Airport, Essex, CM24 1QW.
I refer to the above appeal regarding which you wrote to request a direction
be made by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local
Government and the Secretary of State for Transport to jointly determine the
I have carefully considered this case and the issues you have raised and
remain of the view that the application is not of sufficient scale or
significance to justify a direction. I will therefore not be making a direction in
relation to this appeal. The Planning Inspectorate will inform you of a
decision in due course.
I am copying this to the recipients of your letter of 23 April and additionally
to Mark Boulton at the Planning Inspectorate.
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT
Kemi Badenoch MP – email@example.com
Alistair Andrew – firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Smith – email@example.com
Elizabeth Humphrey – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Boulton – email@example.com
Comment by Stop Stansted Expansion:
As expected, both Secretaries of State have refused our further request to call in the Stansted Airport Planning Application for their own determination. Their response sets the bar for other airport planning applications currently in progress – notably Leeds Bradford, Southampton and Bristol. All of these are of a smaller scale than the Stansted application and so if Stansted does not justify a call in, it seems unlikely that any of those will be called in.
Incidentally, Stansted’s owners, MAG, also asked both Secretaries of State to call in the application and met with the same negative response.
The Stansted Airport Public Inquiry comes to an end – now we must wait
By Stop Stansted Expansion
The Stansted Airport Public Inquiry to consider plans for further airport expansion came to a close on Friday 12 March after eight weeks of evidence hearings and cross-examinations. QCs for the three main parties – Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) – presented their closing submissions at the end of last week. It will now be for the Panel of three Inspectors to decide whether to approve the airport expansion proposals. A decision is expected in around three months.
On the very first day, UDC’s barrister, instructed by UDC’s officers, declared that MAG’s proposals were acceptable, subject only to certain conditions which, in SSE’s view, were so timid as to render them almost meaningless. It was an extraordinary start to UDC’s defence of the decision made by its Planning Committee in January 2020, by a margin of 10 votes to nil, to refuse permission for the Stansted Airport expansion proposals. There was no attempt whatsoever by UDC to mount a robust defence of the decision of its own Planning Committee.
MAG has made it clear that, if it wins its case, it will seek an award of costs against UDC but not against SSE. Costs at a Public Inquiry can only be awarded in the event of “unreasonable behaviour” and MAG claims that UDC behaved unreasonably in defending the appeal.
This Inquiry might not have been necessary if UDC had supported SSE’s call, three years ago, for the Secretary of State for Transport to deal with the Stansted Airport Planning Application nationally. Instead, UDC insisted on dealing with the application itself, despite its limited resources and expertise in this area.
UDC submitted evidence to the Inquiry on just 4 topics and for each topic it concluded that MAG’s proposals were acceptable subject to conditions. By contrast, SSE’s team of specialists, supported by external expert consultants and two of the country’s top planning barristers, presented comprehensive evidence to the Inquiry on 11 separate topics. The result was that MAG directed most of its firepower at trying to counter the SSE evidence, rather than UDC’s evidence, such as it was.
SSE chairman, Peter Sanders commented “I am immensely proud of SSE’s Inquiry team. We all realise, of course, that this is a David and Goliath battle, but it is important to remember that it was David who won that battle, and he did so by giving it his best shot. That is exactly what SSE has done on this occasion. We must now wait to see whether the powerful evidence that we have submitted will be enough to win the day.”
- MAG seeks permission for Stansted to be allowed to handle 43 million passengers per annum (mppa). Stansted currently has permission for 35mppa and in 2019 handled 28mppa. Over the past 12 months, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Stansted has handled only 3 million passengers.
- A full record of the Public Inquiry, including (until April 12) a video record of all the hearings, can be found at https://programmeofficers.co.uk/ssairport/ and a selection of the most relevant Inquiry documents is also available at https://stopstanstedexpansion.com/library/information-centre/
Stansted Public Inquiry – MAG challenging Uttlesford’s refusal – has ended. Inspectors’ decision by June?
The Stansted Airport Public Inquiry to consider plans for further airport expansion (from 35 to 43 mpps) came to a close on Friday 12 March after 8 weeks of evidence hearings and cross-examinations. QCs for the 3 main parties – Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) – presented their closing submissions at the end of last week. It will now be for the Panel of 3 Inspectors to decide whether to approve the airport expansion proposals. A decision is expected in around 3 months (June?). UDC’s Planning Committee had voted 10-0 to refuse permission, though officers had recommended acceptance. SSE says the Inquiry might not have been necessary if UDC had supported SSE’s call, 3 years ago, for the Secretary of State for Transport to deal with the Stansted Airport Planning Application nationally. Instead, UDC insisted on dealing with the application itself, despite its limited resources and expertise in this area. During the inquiry, most of the legal attack by MAG was against the detailed evidence produced by SSE, as UDC did not present much.
Stansted Airport Public Inquiry into expansion plans – started 12th January
After over 3 years of fierce resistance by the local community, the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport will be decided by a Public Inquiry which opens on Tuesday 12th January. The outcome will determine whether Uttlesford, East Herts, and other surrounding districts will continue to consist of largely rural communities or will, in time, become further blighted and urbanised in the same way as large areas around Gatwick and Heathrow airports. Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) considers it entirely irrational, and potentially dangerous, for the Government’s Planning Inspectorate to insist that the Public Inquiry must start at the height of the Covid pandemic. Stansted already has permission for 35 million passengers and its passenger throughput peaked at 28 million in 2018, with passenger numbers in decline since mid-2019, long before the pandemic. It is applying to expand to 43mppa. In 2020, Stansted handled just 7 million passengers and has forecast that it will take years to return to pre-pandemic levels. Plainly, there is no urgency to increase the current planning cap.