There is cross-party support for a delay in the final approval for the Stansted Airport Expansion until after the local elections in May following concern that mishandling of the planning process has exposed UDC to legal challenge and financial risk.
In 2018 Stansted Airport secured outline planning approval from Uttlesford District Council to significantly expand airport capacity to the same size as Gatwick. The expansion is subject to a Judicial Review by the Stop Stansted Expansion group (SSE). There have also been complaints about how the UDC administration handled the planning process, which is now also subject to a formal review.
As a result this week Residents for Uttlesford and the Liberal Democrats at UDC have jointly asked UDC delay the final planning approval Decision Notice until after May’s local council elections.
Residents for Uttlesford said “Forty parish councils and 1,000s of residents have objected to the airport expansion. The UDC leadership have stated that they intend to issue the final approval Decision Notice in the next few weeks. Election law doesn’t allow important decisions like this to be made in the 6 weeks before an election. What the UDC leadership is attempting to do is highly irregular and we don’t like it.”
“There are unresolved concerns that the whole thing has been mishandled. These include legal and oversight issues, and it is now subject to a formal Scrutiny Review. SEE have launched a Judicial Review. These must be allowed to follow proper process before the final decision is issued.”
“What’s more councillors on the Planning Committee have been blocked from seeing the legal agreements that bind the airport to pay for upgrades to our roads and railways. It will take an estimated £1.2billion to upgrade our infrastructure to be similar to Gatwick’s, so these discussions must be transparent so we can all see what is being demanded from the airport.”
“Because the UDC leadership is trying to rush things through while things are unresolved, we have initiated cross-party action with the Lib-Dems to try to prevent it. Our 11 signatories are enough to force a council Extraordinary Meeting to take the decision away from the UDC leadership. But Conservative Council Leader Howard Rolfe is still determined to force it through and so far failed to agree the meeting. He’s said publicly that he would not be ‘bullied’ into delaying the approval by any external organisations, including SSE. His actions have exposed the council to huge legal and financial risks. If elected to run UDC in May R4U will do things differently. We will review the entire planning process and we have already committed to a fairer more transparent deal with the airport.”