Date set for Stansted Airport extraordinary meeting
PUBLISHED: 13:02 23 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:46 23 April 2019
An extraordinary council meeting will take place on Thursday (April 25) to consider whether the final approval notice for Stansted Airport's planning application to increase passenger numbers should be delayed until after the upcoming local elections.
The meeting was called in the form of a cross-party petition signed by 12 councillors at Uttlesford District Council (UDC).
Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and councillors argue that the final decision notice for the Stansted Airport planning application should not be issued until a Section 106 agreement, setting out the local benefits to be provided by the airport in return for its planning permission, has been signed and sealed.
The current administration says it is a matter for officers to finalise the Section 106 agreement and it wants the planning approval to be finalised before the local election on May 2.
However, the councillors who signed the petition believe that the final decision should not be taken until after the local elections, in order to allow the new administration an opportunity to review the agreement.
SSE has been critical of the proposed Section 106 agreement, which it says would result in Uttlesford residents and council taxpayers being “massively short-changed” compared to the equivalent agreements at other major UK airports.
Peter Sanders, chairman of SSE, said: “A good public turnout at council meetings always has the effect of improving the quality of the debate and it serves to remind councillors that they have a duty to their local electors, as well as to their party. This is an extremely important meeting and, coming just one week before the local elections, it will give councillors an opportunity to show where their loyalties lie.
“It's hard to believe that our own local council wants to rush through a thoroughly shabby and defective Section 106 agreement so that it can then rubber stamp the Stansted Airport planning application prior to the local elections on May 2.
“SSE is keen to explore every avenue to avoid the need to take legal proceedings against UDC. The meeting on April 25 provides a glimmer of hope that it may yet be possible to avoid such legal proceedings.”
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Sanders made clear that SSE is non-party political and he has made a plea to all councillors to put party politics to one side and “act in the interests of their local residents and in the interests of maintaining public trust in the planning system”.
A spokesman for UDC said: “Officers have been acting to implement the instructions of the committee since [November 2018] but had to await the outcome of the secretary of state's considerations regarding call-in, which was received on March 20, before concluding all actions.
“As the decision was taken in November 2018, this clearly falls outside of the pre-election period.
“The final draft of the Section 106 agreement was published on the council's website on March 28 and all members' attention was drawn to this on March 29.”
The extraordinary meeting will be held at Uttlesford District Council in London Road, Saffron Walden, starting at 7.30pm.