Council leader defiant as authority landed with huge legal costs

Councillor John Lodge of Uttlesford District Council

Councillor John Lodge, leader of Uttlesford District Council, remains defiant - Credit: Weston Homes

The leader of Uttlesford District Council has insisted his administration was standing up for constituents' grandchildren after the authority was rebuked by planning inspectors over its handling of plans to expand Stansted Airport.

Councillor John Lodge said the council's opposition to the expansion of the airport was "completely about" climate change.

The council's ruling party Residents 4 Uttlesford took over the authority in 2019. It stood on anti-airport expansion platform and ousted the Conservative administration.

Uttlesford's incoming ruling party swept away the previous administration's decision to give them the green light subject to conditions.

The authority now faces a hefty legal bill after Stansted appealed its decision to reject the airport's expansion plans. 

Inspectors sided with Stansted and have ordered Uttlesford to pay the airport's legal costs, which are likely to run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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The panel of inspectors said the council’s reasons for refusal were "imprecise, vague and unsubstantiated", and said the strength of evidence in favour of the proposal was "such that the application should clearly have been granted planning permission by the council". It rejected the council's position on environmen

But Mr Lodge was defiant.

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"It's a ludicrous situation. We at Uttlesford have stood up for our constituents' grandchildren," he said.

"We will now require the minister to take a view on this. If the mining of coal in Cumbria is not appropriate despite planning decisions being made, then we must ask the government to intervene and make a decision that's compatible with their own climate agenda."

Stansted boss Steve Griffiths has welcomed the Planning Inspectorate decision which he said allowed the community and airline partners to plan ahead with certainty.

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