London Stansted Airport (STN/EGSS) has confirmed that it will appeal the decision by Uttlesford District Council’s Planning Committee to refuse the airport’s application to increase the current cap on passenger numbers from 35 to 43 million a year.
The airport says that the decision to refuse was “flawed” and came after the Council’s own planning officers along with independent legal advisors gave clear advice to Planning Committee members saying that there were no grounds to refuse the application.
Increasing the passenger numbers from 35 to 43 million could be done without increasing the number of flights according to London Stansted which said it would also enter into a legally binding planning condition to reduce the noise footprint of the airport.
Ken O’Toole, London Stansted’s CEO, said: “We’ve been listening to local communities over the last few years and we used their feedback to shape our proposals to make best use of Stansted’s existing capacity.
“As a result, the application we put forward would mean no increase in the number of flights that can operate from Stansted each year, and we committed to provide a comprehensive package of measures to benefit local people.
“From our discussions with local communities, it is clear that the majority of local people support our proposals, and they welcome the airport’s commitment to maintaining the existing cap on the number of flights and to reducing the airport’s overall noise footprint.
“Since January, we have carefully considered the comments made by the Planning Committee, the strong case we made about environmental effects, alongside our assessment of the significant benefits that the future success of Stansted will deliver to the region.
“In our view, the Council failed to provide any credible or substantiated reasons to justify its decision to refuse the application. For this reason, we have decided to appeal the Council’s decision.
“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.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the lives of people across the country and on the UK economy, and it is crystal clear that aviation will play a critical role in the local, national and global economic recovery.
“Our proposals have always been about growing Stansted in a sustainable way to support its vital role as the economic engine of the region, by responsibly managing its impacts and providing clarity for local communities. “We are confident about the merits of our proposals and the prospects of securing the planning approval that will pave the way for Stansted to maximise its contribution to the success of the region it serves.”
The council had previously approved the plan but after a local residents group took control of the council in May 20198, it referred the decision back to the council who then went against the advice of their planning officers and rejected it.
In addition to the airport’s appeal, local business groups called the planning decision disappointing and short-sighted.
London Stansted, which is owned by Manchester Airports Group (MAG), will formally submit an appeal later this month.