Council leader calls on government ministers to reconsider impacts of airport expansion plans

Uttlesford District Council has written to government ministers urging them to step in over the Stansted Airport expansion plans amid growing climate change concerns.

Last month the Planning Inspectorate announced its decision to allow an appeal by Stansted Airport Ltd, and to make a full award of costs against the council. The proposals which include increasing the cap on passenger numbers at the airport to 43 million per year had been refused by the council's Planning Committee in January 2020.

A letter written by the Leader of the Council, Cllr John Lodge, setting out concerns over the decision, has been sent to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The letter expresses dismay that the Planning Inspectorate's decision did not take into full account new government legislation that will see emissions from international flights included in the UK's new carbon budget, and argues that the airport's expansion plans undermines the government's target of cutting carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035. It goes on to ask the ministers to commit to using mechanisms other than the planning system to reduce the demand for airport travel.

Cllr Lodge said: "The inspectors' decision is hugely disappointing for the council, our residents and our grandchildren and great grandchildren, and we have written to ask the ministers to look again at the options available to it which would prevent this from happening.

"The proposed airport development and its effects on climate change remain of significant concern. I would call on residents and anyone who cares about the protection of our planet to support us by also writing to the secretaries of state."

Cllr Louise Pepper, the council's Portfolio Holder for Environment and Green Issues, added: "The changing climate is of international concern and now is not the time to be ignoring it. This is a decision that will have long-term consequences. The government has said it wants to be a global leader on fighting climate change, so expanding any fossil-fuelled industry during a climate emergency makes no sense. It also calls into question the UK's credibility for hosting the COP26 Climate Change Conference in November.

"The council is now facing costs against it as a result of the appeal, but the cost to the planet carries far greater weight. We have a responsibility to act now and we must continue to take a stand for future generations."

The letter to the secretaries of state is available to read on the airport appeal webpage.

8 June 2021