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Uttlesford District Council to decide Stansted Airport expansion plans after 14-month wait

More than a year after planning permission was first granted for Stansted Airport to expand to 43 million passengers a year, Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has set a date for making its final decision.

The planning application by Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to increase the annual passenger cap from 35m has been in limbo since November 2018, when the then Conservative-controlled council narrowly approved the scheme.

In May's local elections, the Residents for Uttlesford party seized control of the council, routing the Tories, and set about reviewing the plans, which keep flights within the current 274,000-a-year limit and with a smaller noise footprint. Traffic at Stansted is currently around 28m passengers a year.

Stansted Airport. (24767364)
Stansted Airport. (24767364)

Unions, chambers of commerce, tourist bosses across the region and even Tottenham Hotspur Football Club have called on the council to rubber-stamp the scheme, while campaigners led by Stop Stansted Expansion have pressured the local politicians to use environmental concerns and cash contributions to the community as a block.

By September this year, the council was forced to admit it had spent more than £90,000 of council taxpayers’ cash on further legal advice after it decided to delay.

The administration has now said that a special meeting of UDC's planning committee to consider matters relating to the Stansted Airport planning application will be held on Friday January 24.

A statement confirmed: “In line with the council resolution made on June 28, 2019, the planning committee will meet to consider the adequacy of the S106 Agreement – this is the package of legally-binding planning obligations which are attached to the planning permission to offset its impact – as well as any potential new material considerations since the committee resolved to grant the application in November 2018.

“The committee will need to determine whether to authorise the release of a decision notice formally approving the application.”

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: “We welcome the commitment to a date for the planning committee meeting and the certainty and clarity it provides.”

Ahead of the committee meeting, the council will host a public speaking session to allow people more opportunity to express their views on the relevant issues directly to representatives of the planning committee. This session will take place on Friday, January 17. Details, including how to register to speak, will be issued in due course.

The committee report, including a recommendation from the council’s planning officers, will be published in advance of the public speaking session.

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