UDC submits airport planning appeal decisions challenge

Uttlesford District Council has submitted its challenge to the High Court over the Planning Inspectorate's decisions to approve Stansted Airport expansion plans.

The airport proposals, which include an increase in the cap on passenger numbers to 43 million per year, had been refused by the council's Planning Committee in January 2020. That decision was overturned following a public inquiry, and a full award of costs was made against the council.

In light of the advice it has received from Leading Counsel, the council is asking the permission of the High Court to challenge the validity of the panel's decisions. The preliminary application was filed with the Court on 6 July, and proceedings have been issued.

The council is seeking to challenge the decision to grant planning permission following the public inquiry on two grounds:

  • The panel's approach to relevant climate change/carbon policies was flawed, both for having excluded from consideration everything other than national aviation policy, and also having treated that policy as both unassailable and untouched by other material policy statements. This was a serious failure to understand and apply all relevant policy.
  • The panel made five errors or omissions in its assessment of the planning condition sought by the council in order to ensure that if and as the planning permission was implemented, the noise, air quality and carbon emissions resulting would comply with legislation, international instruments and policies in force at each assessment point. It failed to properly explain why it had rejected that condition.

The decision ordering the council to pay all of Stansted Airport Limited's costs is also being challenged on 11 additional grounds.

The council's application for permission to appeal will be assessed initially on the basis of written submissions. A decision is not expected to be until early autumn.

The application documents are available to view at www.uttlesford.gov.uk/airport-appeal.

19 July 2021