6th May 2019

All Change at Uttlesford District Council

It seems that SSE was not alone in believing that the administration at Uttlesford District Council (UDC) was no longer acting in the best interests of the local community.

At the local elections on May 2nd the incumbent UDC Conservative administration, which had been in power for the past 12 years, retained just 4 out of their 24 seats. The Uttlesford result was proportionately the largest loss by any ruling party in any District Council in all of England. The independent Residents for Uttlesford (‘R4U’) party swept to power with 26 seats and the Liberal Democrats came second with 7 seats.

Despite being non-party political, SSE had no hesitation in welcoming the change of power at UDC. Our political neutrality had been tested to the limit by the former regime’s support for unfettered expansion at Stansted Airport.

The five members of the UDC Planning Committee who voted in favour of the Stansted Airport planning application last November are no longer councillors, whereas the five who voted against were all re-elected.

Immediately prior to the local elections the previous administration had intended to issue final approval to Stansted for expansion to 43 million passengers per annum (almost as much as today’s Gatwick). However, this was blocked as a result of combined action by R4U, the Lib Dems and two ‘rebel’ Conservatives – all of whom supported SSE’s argument that the planning application needed further consideration.

SSE is now hopeful that the new Planning Committee will be given an opportunity to review the airport planning application. The fact that the expansion was approved in principle six months ago means that their room for manoeuvre might be limited. The new Council will need to take expert legal advice in this regard.

Meanwhile, SSE’s legal challenges continue to trundle along in the High Court. A ‘Directions Hearing’ has been arranged for 23rd May at which time it is hoped that the Judge will agree to combine SSE’s two cases (one against the Transport Secretary and the other against the Communities Secretary ) and set a date for a full hearing – which will probably require 2-3 days – later in the summer.

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport