12th October 2019
Airport Planning Application should be considered afresh
That’s the verdict of leading planning barrister Paul Stinchcombe QC in independent legal advice prepared for SSE. The QC’s opinion sets out the key precedents in planning law and confirms that Uttlesford District Council (UDC) is lawfully entitled to reconsider the entire Planning Application. Moreover, a number of new material factors have arisen since the Application was provisionally approved last year and so there is not only an entitlement for UDC to reconsider, but an obligation to do so.
The QC’s advice explains that the new Planning Committee could quite lawfully and reasonably reach a different planning judgment from the former Committee who, by the slenderest of margins (the Chairman’s additional casting vote), provisionally approved the Application last November.
The five members of the former Planning Committee who voted in favour of the expansion plans last year are no longer councillors, whereas the five who opposed it were all re-elected and all continue to serve on the Committee.
Importantly, the QC’s advice also points out that UDC could support SSE’s High Court challenge for the Planning Application to be treated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. If UDC supported SSE’s challenge, there would be a greater prospect of success and if the case is won, the responsibility for dealing with the Application would automatically transfer to the Secretary of State for Transport thereby removing any risk of a costs award against UDC as well as the costs of a Public Inquiry.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “We urge UDC to make representations to the High Court for this Planning Application to be dealt with at national level. There is compelling logic for UDC to do so, in the interests of local council taxpayers. However, if UDC continues to insist on dealing with the Application itself, the new Planning Committee must deal with the entire Application afresh.”
SSE legal challenge has been scheduled for a three day hearing in the High Court from 12-14 November.