15th November 2018
A shameful day for Uttlesford District Council
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed dismay and disappointment that yesterday (14 November), Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted Airport’s planning application to grow to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum. If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared to last year’s levels.
The UDC Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with five in favour of the application (including the Planning Committee Chairman) and five against. Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional (casting) vote. The voting by individual councillors is shown in the notes below.
The Planning Committee decision followed an all-day meeting which was at times farcical. The Council chamber was packed with many representatives from local parish councils as well as members of the public and the media. Both BBC and ITV regional news teams were filming.
In an announcement at the start of yesterday’s proceedings, which surprised most of those present, UDC’s lead planning officer, Nigel Brown, told the meeting that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government had instructed UDC not to issue a decision notice until he had an opportunity to consider whether the application should be called in. However, this announcement did not come as a surprise to SSE because it was fully in accordance with written assurances that had already been given to SSE by the Secretary of State’s office.
SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him (again) to call in the application. These further representations will include additional reasons for this, including evidence relating to the nature and conduct of yesterday’s meeting, for which there is a complete audio recording.
SSE will also be discussing possible next steps with its legal advisers. However, it may not be necessary for any further legal steps to be taken by SSE. This to some extent depends on the High Court challenge which SSE is already pursuing in relation to this application. If this legal challenge succeeds, the approval granted yesterday by UDC would be overturned without the need for further legal proceedings.
SSE Deputy Chairman Brian Ross commented: “Of course we are disappointed to lose the argument yesterday in such a shameful fashion, with the outcome ultimately resting on the Chairman’s casting vote. It was especially galling when most of the councillors who voted in favour of approval made very little attempt to engage in the proceedings and showed little evidence of having done their homework. This was not Uttlesford District Council’s finest hour. Fortunately this is not the end of the road so we would advise Stansted Airport not to start popping the champagne corks just yet.”
NOTES – The voting was as follows:
Paul Fairhurst – Residents for Uttlesford, Saffron Walden Shire
Richard Freeman – Residents for Uttlesford, Saffron Walden Castle
Anthony Gerard – Residents for Uttlesford, Newport
Mark Lemon – Conservative (formerly Independent), Hatfield Heath
Janice Loughlin – Liberal Democrat, Stort Valley
Councillors in favour
Robert Chambers – Conservative, Littlebury, Chesterford and Wendon Lofts
Eric Hicks – Conservative, Great Dunmow South and Barnston
Alan Mills (Chairman) – Conservative, Felsted and Stebbing
Howard Ryles – Conservative, Takeley
Lesley Wells – Conservative, Broad Oak and the Hallingburys
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