Stansted wins appeal, against refusal by Uttlesford Council, of its plans to increase capacity to 43 million passengers per year
Expansion plans for Stansted Airport have been approved by the Planning Inspectorate (PI) after an appeal. In January 2020 Uttlesford District Council (UDC) rejected proposals to increase Stansted’s passenger cap from 35 million to 43 million a year. However, the councillors voted against the advice of council officers, who had recommended approval of proposals. The council had originally approved the plan, in November 2018 but only by the casting vote of the chairman; many councillors then had not read, or properly understood, all the documents. Then after the Residents for Uttlesford group took control from the Conservatives in May 2019, the decision was referred back to the planning committee – the rejection decision. Stansted already had permission to increase capacity from 28 million to 35 million passengers per year. The airport appealed against the decision, despite Covid and the near collapse of air travel in 2020. A public inquiry was held in January to March 2021 by the Planning Inspectorate. In its decision, the PI said: “there would be a limited degree of harm arising in respect of air quality and carbon emissions” but that was “far outweighed by the benefits of the proposal”. UDC has also been ordered to pay the costs of Stansted’s appeal.
Stansted Airport wins planning appeal over expansion plans
Expansion plans for Stansted Airport have been approved by the Planning Inspectorate after an appeal.
Uttlesford District Council last year rejected proposals to increase the Essex airport’s passenger cap to 43 million a year.
But it was against the advice of officers who recommended approval of proposals.
London Stansted’s managing director, Steve Griffiths, said the airport “welcomed the decision”.
He said the decision showed “planning permission should have been granted by the council and the appeal should not have been necessary”.
The council had originally approved the plan, but after the Residents for Uttlesford group took control from the Conservatives in May 2019, the decision was referred back to the planning committee.
The airport appealed against the decision and already had permission to increase capacity from 28 million to 35 million passengers.
An inquiry was then held by the Planning Inspectorate, which included a visit to the site in March.
In its decision, the Planning Inspectorate said: “Overall, the balance falls overwhelmingly in favour of the grant of planning permission.”
The inspectors said “there would be a limited degree of harm arising in respect of air quality and carbon emissions” but that was “far outweighed by the benefits of the proposal”.
Uttlesford District Council has also been ordered to pay the costs of Stansted’s appeal.
The council has been contacted for comment.
Campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion, issued the following preliminary press comment:
“Of course we are disappointed but we are not at all surprised bearing in mind the failure of Uttlesford District Council to defend their own decision.
To quote from the Inspector’s decision letter: “The Council’s own appeal evidence was that the planning balance was favourable, such that planning permission should be granted.”
We have had preliminary discussions with our legal advisers and we will now study the ruling very carefully before deciding whether to seek leave to appeal. Our expectation is that Uttlesford District Council will want to appeal because they are now facing a substantial costs award for “unreasonable behaviour” in failing to defend their own decision. It is noteworthy that there has been no costs award against SSE.”
Stansted Airport has won an appeal to increase their yearly passenger capacity to 43 million people, despite huge objections from Uttlesford District Council.
As part of the expansion plans, Stansted would be able to build two new taxiway links to the existing runway, six additional remote aircraft stands, and three additional aircraft stands. This would allow them to increase the capacity of the airport by 8 million people per year.
London Stansted’s Managing Director, Steve Griffiths, said: “We welcome the decision of the Planning Inspectorate to grant permission to increase the number of passengers London Stansted is able to serve following the recent independent Public Inquiry.”
The decision comes after a huge backlash from local campaigners Stop Stansted Expansion and local people in Uttlesford.
In 2019, Uttlesford District Council under the control of the the Residents for Uttlesford Group, rejected the plans. A subsequent leadership voted to reject the plans too.
The council will now have to pay the costs of Stansted’s appeal.
Stop Stansted Expansion, Residents for Uttlesford and Uttlesford District Council are yet to comment.
See earlier, January 2020:
Stansted Airport expansion definitively rejected by Uttlesford council
Stansted expansion plans have been rejected by Uttlesford District councillors at a special planning committee meeting. The decision was made with 10 councillors voting to overturn the previous approval, and two councillors, who were also members of SSE, abstaining. Officers had recommended approval of proposals to increase the airport’s passenger cap from 35 million to 43 million per year. The expansion had included 2 new taxiways and 9 new hangars, expanding the number of flights it can handle from 227,000 up to 274,000. There are about 28 million passengers now per year. Originally the council approved the plan, giving it conditional permission, but after the Residents for Uttlesford group took control from the Conservatives in May, the decision was referred back to the committee. The councillors who voted for expansion in 2018 lost their seats last year. Council officers said there were no new material considerations to justify a different decision from the one made in November 2018 when the plans were approved. It was a 7 hour meeting, “in which the chairman had to tell members of the public to stop applauding those opposing the plans.” It is possible MAG, which owns Stansted, may appeal.
See earlier, in November 2018:
Uttlesford DC approves Stansted expansion plan, only by Chairman’s casting vote – but plans may now be “called in”
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed dismay and disappointment that the vote on 14th November)by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted’s planning application to grow – to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum (from the 35 million cap now). If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared, to last year’s levels. The Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with 5 in favour of the application (including the Planning Committee Chairman) and 5 against. Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional (casting) vote – so he gets 2 votes. Both BBC and ITV regional news teams filmed the session, which was attended by many local people. UDC cannot issue a decision notice until the Sec of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) has considered whether the application should be called in. This should have been done already, as the planned expansion is very near the threshold necessary – of an increase by 10 million annual passengers. SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him (again) to call in the application. They are currently also legally challenging the decision.
UTTLESFORD COUNCIL PLANNING CHAIRMAN DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT HE WAS VOTING FOR!
Following the decision of the Chairman of Uttlesford Planning Committee, Councillor Alan Mills, to use his (additional) casting vote in favour of the airport planning application, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) health adviser, Professor Jangu Banatvala, wrote to him to ask whether he had reviewed the latest important WHO Noise Guidelines, published on 10th October, prior to voting. The disturbing reply from Councillor Mills suggests that he was not aware of the WHO Guidelines and he believed the planning application was for 174,000 flights, rather than 274,000. He did not appear to have understood that the application was for an increase in flights, by about 25,000 per year, despite claiming to have read a third of the documents. Five councillors voted in favour of the Stansted application, but SSE has found that at least some of them had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. SSE said this is entirely unsatisfactory. It confirms that this application should be dealt with at a higher level than a small district council, with limited resources to deal with such a significant application with such widespread implications. SSE’s lawyers are now working on the detailed legal submissions to the Secretary of State on why he must now ‘call in’ the application for national determination.