Stansted Airport expansion approved after 'negligible' impacts identified

Plans have been approved for the expansion of Stansted Airport in Essex, in line with a recommendation from planners who concluded that there would be 'negligible' negative impacts arising from the proposals.

Stansted: local council approves expansion plan
Stansted: local council approves expansion plan

Uttlesford District Council yesterday recommended approval of the airport's application for nine additional aircraft stands which would allow the airport to increase its maximum number of passengers from 35 million to 43 million a year.

The number of annual aircraft movements would stay below 274,000, as dicated by an existing planning consent, however, an increase in the size of aircraft in recent years and a reduction in the number of cargo flights at the airport are expected to see passenger numbers rise.

Uttlesford planning officers advised: "The application is made against a backdrop of national and local policy support for, and new particular national policy for, making best use of the existing runway infrastructure". 

The proposed development is located within the airport's boundary as identified in the council’s adopted local plan, the report said.

Uttlesford’s emerging local plan also states that "sustainable growth" at the airport would be supported in principle, planners advised. 

Officers examined the likely impact of the proposed expansion in areas including noise, transport, public health, socioeconomic factors, and ecology.

They said that an environmental statement had demonstrated that there would be "negligible impacts arising from the proposals" and found that "issues arising have been addressed and appropriate mitigation measures identified".

Mitigation measures include the extension of an existing sound insulation grant scheme available to schools, community buildings and places of worship affected by noise.

The planning committee's ten members were evenly split between those in favour of and those against the proposals. Committee chair Alan Mills cast a deciding vote in favour. 

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion has applied for a judicial review of the Department of Transport's decision that the application should be considered by Uttlesford Council rather than through the Planning Inspectorate's development consent order (DCO) regime for major infrastructure. The group has vowed to continue its legal battle in light of the council's decision.

Ken O’Toole, chief executive of London Stansted, said: "From the outset, our local community has been a vital partner in this planning process and it was their feedback which lead us to put forward a proposal which did not seek an increase in the number of flights and committed to deliver the growth within a smaller noise footprint than our existing permissions require."

The application will now be referred to the secretary of state. 

Last month, Gatwick Airport revealed plans that consider seeking a DCO to bring its standby runway into use to accommodate long-term growth.

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