Uttlesford District Council leader calls for Government to intervene on Stansted Airport Expansion

The leader of Uttlesford District Council (UDC), Cllr John Lodge, has condemned the Planning Inspectorate’s (PI) decision to allow expansion at Stansted as “an insult to local democracy”.  He has written to the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps and his Housing, Communities and Local Government counterpart Robert Jenrick and urged them to intervene. The application was rejected by UDC councillors, but the airport appealed – and the PI recently approved it – going against the democratic council vote.  John Lodge called on the Government to commit to “aviation demand management” to prevent the implementation of the planning permission at the airport, to raise the cap on annual passengers, from 35 to 43 million over the next 10 to 15 years. The PI considered the behaviour of the council to have been unreasonable, as officers had recommended approval.  The PI also said costs should be awarded against UDC. The decision to let the number of flights and passengers increase is completely contrary to government’s stated seriousness about cutting CO2 emissions. The owners of the airport, the Manchester Airports Group, are mainly councils. So money will be taken by one council, UDC (not a rich council), to be paid to other councils. 


Uttlesford District Council leader calls for Government to intervene on Stansted Airport Expansion

By Sinead Corr – sinead.corr@iliffemedia.co.uk  (Bishops’s Stortford Independent)

8 June 2021

The leader of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has condemned the planning inspectorate’s decision to allow expansion at Stansted Airport as “an insult to local democracy”.

Cllr John Lodge, in charge of the authority’s Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) administration, has written to the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps and his Housing, Communities and Local Government counterpart Robert Jenrick and urged them to intervene.

He called on the Government to commit to “aviation demand management” to prevent the implementation of the planning permission at the airport over the next 10 to 15 years.

The panel of three independent inspectors who heard Manchester Airports Group’s appeal from January to March this year ruled that the council had behaved so unreasonably that full costs – upwards of £1m – should be awarded to Stansted.

They said: “The council’s own appeal evidence was that the planning balance was favourable, such that planning permission should be granted.”

Before their decision to approve growth from 35m to 43m passengers a year was delivered, the inspectors allowed the council, Stop Stansted Expansion (now Stansted Airport Watch) and MAG to make additional representations about climate change in the light of a Government announcement on cutting carbon emissions.

Uttlesford’s submission said: “The new reality is that there is no way of getting aviation to play its role in achieving the 2035 target apart from aviation demand management. Not to acknowledge this is to be in denial.”

Cllr Lodge told the Secretaries of State: “What is most distressing is that the [inspectors’] decision has been taken in full knowledge that the Government have accepted the high-level recommendations of the Climate Change Committee on the 6th Carbon Budget (6CB), meaning a 78% cut in carbon emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2035, including International Aviation and Shipping (IAS), and that a draft Statutory Instrument has been laid in the Commons and Lords which is expected to come into force by the end of June.

“The Government has promised to publish its Transport Decarbonisation Plan within the next few weeks and to consult on net-zero aviation. If planning controls can only manage the consequences against a policy framework that must effectively be already under review and not respond to the policy changes that will shortly become imperative, will you commit to aviation demand management to prevent the implementation of the planning permission for expansion of the airport over the next 10 to 15 years?”

Cllr Lodge said: “Uttlesford council’s planning committee very thoroughly weighed up the evidence before them but were also mindful of the issues coming down the line; they wanted to exercise their place-making function and community leadership role fully, responsibly and with due consideration to the future of all: the residents, businesses, nature and climate. We are distraught that PINS (Planning Inspectorate) did not or were not able to do likewise; moreover, we are outraged that they would not see how challenging this decision had been for elected members nor how carefully they had approached it and awarded full costs against the council.”

That view has been challenged by the council’s opposition. The same day Cllr Lodge wrote to the Government, Uttlesford’s Liberal Democrat leader called for an independent investigation into the district’s “disastrous handling” of the Stansted Airport inquiry.

Cllr Melvin Caton, said, “Local residents face a huge financial cost as a result of R4U’s incompetent handling of the appeal. The decision to award costs against UDC means R4U has squandered over £1 million of vital funds which otherwise might have gone to other key public services.

“Local residents deserve to understand how a 10-0 vote of the planning committee was ultimately translated by the R4U administration into the weak defence put up at the appeal. For that reason, we are calling for an independent public inquiry instead of the currently-proposed internal process chaired by one of R4U’s own councillors.”

“For an administration which has promised transparency and competency, they are attempting a cover-up instead. Uttlesford’s residents deserve better.”

The council’s scrutiny committee will decide exactly how the matter should be investigated.




Manchester Airport Holdings Limited, trading as MAG (originally Manchester Airports Group) is a holding company which is owned by the ten metropolitan borough councils of Greater Manchester, in North West England, and Australian investment fund IFM Investors.

Of the ten metropolitan boroughs of Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council holds the largest stake, at 35.5%. The remaining nine councils hold a total of 29%.

The nine are the Metropolitan Boroughs of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, together with Salford City Council.

See earlier:

Unreasonable behaviour

“Unreasonable behaviour”: these were the words used by the Panel of Planning Inspectors to describe the conduct of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) in their formal ruling, dated 26 May, which approved an increase in Stansted Airport’s planning cap from 35 million to 43 million passengers per annum (‘mppa’).   This followed a Public Inquiry which ran from 12 January to 12 March 2021, involving three main parties, namely UDC, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).  (Note that SSE has since been succeeded by Stansted Airport Watch (SAW). Commenting on the outcome of the Public Inquiry, SAW Chairman Brian Ross, said: “We are, of course, disappointed but we are not at all surprised, bearing in mind that the Council’s planning officers made no real attempt to defend the decision of their own Planning Committee.  We will carefully review the Panel’s ruling and discuss with our legal advisers before deciding whether to seek leave to appeal.” The approval comes despite UDC’s Planning Committee having last year voted unanimously to refuse MAG’s application for further expansion of Stansted.

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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.

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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.

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New NEF report shows the climate impact of regional airport plans has been considerably underestimated

See original image in the Guardian article here

For UK to properly take account of the overall climate impact of UK aviation – it needs to consider the emissions from departing AND arriving flights (it currently ignores arriving flights). And also the non-CO2 impacts on climate. Maximum impact is multiplier of x3 (shown here). The multiplier could be x2.

A report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) says the climate impact of expansion plans at regional airports in England has been dramatically underestimated and would threaten the UK’s legally binding climate commitments.  NEF calculated that proposals to expand 4 airports (Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Southampton and Stansted) will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions up to 8 times higher than the airports previously claimed. This means the alleged economic benefits claimed, from more aviation, were overestimated, as they ignore around £13.4bn worth of climate damage the extra flights could cause. Alex Chapman, the author of the report, said the findings raised concerns about the level of scrutiny the airport expansion proposals had received from government. Alex said: “The secretary of state should step in and conduct an independent review of all four of these proposals and their compatibility with the UK’s climate targets.”  The airports all use unproven and undeveloped technologies to achieve future fuel-efficiency savings. Most airports only took account of CO2 of outbound flights, not of inbound flights, and ignored the non-CO2 impacts of flights.

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