Airport welcomes court dismissal of legal challenge

PUBLISHED: 09:11 19 February 2020

The entrance to Stansted Airport. Photo: Mark Davison/ARCHANT.

The entrance to Stansted Airport. Photo: Mark Davison/ARCHANT.


Stansted Airport welcomes a dismissal by a High Court Judge regarding an appeal by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).

The appeal involved having the airport's expansion application determined by central government, as opposed to local government.

The application, which would have seen the airport increase the number of passengers it can serve from 35 to 43 million per year, was first put forward in February 2018. The application was submitted to Uttlesford District Council (UDC). The Secretary of State for Transport subsequently confirmed it did not qualify as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), and that UDC was the right body to determine the application.

This decision was challenged by SSE in a judicial review brought against the government's Department for Transport (DfT) in August 2018. The case was heard in the High Court in November 2019.

A spokesperson for Stansted Airport said: "We welcome this unequivocal dismissal of Stop Stansted Expansion's appeal. This judgment confirms what we, the DfT and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, have said all along - that this application does not raise matters of national significance and should be dealt with and considered properly as any other local planning application. It is deeply regrettable that a significant amount of taxpayers' money has been wasted in this way."

UDC's Planning Committee refused the application in January, in a council meeting where various councillors cited concerns around air quality, noise and climate change.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has showed disappointment at the High Court decision the airport expansion cannot be treated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).

The action group has yet to decide whether to seek leave to appeal.

Peter Sanders, SSE Chairman, said: "We are currently considering our options because there are different procedures to be followed depending on whether this application ends up being dealt with through the traditional appeal process of a public inquiry or is designated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. The NSIP process would be less expensive and less resource-intensive than a public inquiry for both SSE and UDC."

A spokesperson for the group said that if Stansted's owners, the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), appeal against UDC's refusal to grant expansion permission, the planning application would be examined at a public inquiry, with the Secretary of State making the final decision - so the application would be decided at national level.

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