Campaigners opposing Stansted airport expansion claim ‘substantial grounds’ for refusal

Stop Stansted Expansion has filed an application for a judicial review over deciding expansion plans

Stop Stansted Expansion has filed an application for a judicial review over deciding expansion plans locally Picture: STANSTED - Credit: stansted

Campaigners against plans to expand passenger numbers at Stansted Airport claim they have “substantial grounds” for refusing them.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) lawyers filed an application for judicial review with the High Court on Wednesday, August 8.

SSE is challenging a decision by transport secretary Chris Grayling to allow the Stansted planning application to be determined by Uttlesford District Council (UDC), arguing it should be determined nationally rather than locally. Stansted wants to raise the ceiling for the number of passengers it can serve from 35m to 45m a year.

SSE said it had submitted “extensive evidence” to the council setting out “substantial grounds” for refusing the application and intended to submit more. SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: “High Court proceedings do not come cheap and so we do not take such actions lightly but only after careful thought and advice. SSE’s primary objective is to seek to safeguard the local community and local environment from unfettered and unsustainable airport expansion. Regrettably, legal proceedings are sometimes an unavoidable part of trying to achieve this objective but we must try to ensure a fair and thorough process for dealing with this planning application.”

A Stansted Airport spokesperson said it supported the decision to determine the application locally.

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“This is in line with the Government’s planning policies and consistent with its clear support for airports seeking to make best use of existing runway capacity,” he said. “Based on the feedback we received, we’ve committed to making best use of existing capacity within previously agreed limits on aircraft noise and flight numbers and within the airport’s current boundary.”

A council spokesman said it was under a statutory duty to decide whether or not it should be approved, and had taken “a great deal of care” to ensure it was considered properly, heeding representations and extending the public consultation and decision-making period.

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“As things stand, UDC has to make a decision on this planning application. This position might change if SSE’s legal action against the Secretary of State for Transport is successful but that is a matter for the courts,” he said.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Government is supportive of airports making best use of their existing runways as long as they address economic, environmental and other relevant planning issues.

“We expect airports to work closely with communities and for approval to be determined by the appropriate planning authority.”

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