Stansted Airport to appeal against council's 'flawed' refusal of expansion plans

London Stansted has announced that it will appeal against Uttlesford District Council’s "flawed" decision to refuse its plans to expand the airport.

Stansted Airport in Essex
Stansted Airport in Essex

In November 2018, the Essex council, under a previous administration, resolved to approve the airport’s planning application for nine additional aircraft stands.

This would allow the airport to increase its maximum number of passengers by a fifth, from 35 million to 43 million a year.

However, in the May 2019 local elections, control of the council shifted from the Conservatives to the Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) party, which had campaigned against the airport's expansion.

In January, the council’s planning committee overturned the November 2018 decision and rejected the airport’s expansion plans due to concerns about noise, air quality and climate change. This was despite officers recommending that the plans be approved.

The airport announced in a statement on Friday that it will submit an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

London Stansted said its proposals have the support of the majority of local people, adding that it is committed to reducing the airport’s noise ‘footprint’ and can increase passenger numbers without increasing the number of flights.

CEO Ken O’Toole said: “In our view, the council failed to provide any credible or substantiated reasons to justify its decision to refuse the application.

“It is regrettable that we have been put in a position of having to appeal, particularly in light of the clear advice the council’s elected members received from their own officers and expert legal advisors, but also because of the time and significant costs that will be incurred as a result of the appeal.

“We are confident about the merits of our proposals and the prospects of securing the planning approval.”

Pete Waters, executive director at tourism body Visit East of England, said: “London Stansted sits at the heart of the East of England, and is the region’s gateway to the world, so Visit East of England was disappointed by UDC’s flawed decision which flew in the face of fact, opportunity and ambition.

“The airport’s decision to appeal the ruling is even more critical at a time when the East of England’s hospitality industry, and the hundreds of thousands of people it employs, is suffering so badly from the effects of the pandemic."

A spokesperson for Uttlesford District Council told Planning that the council is aware of MAG’s intention to appeal against the refusal of planning permission in January. Once it is formally submitted, the council will deal with the appeal in accordance with the government’s planning processes, they added.

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