Council unveils grounds for High Court challenge in airport row

People stand far apart, social distancing for Covid-19. All of them have bags, about to board a plane

Social distancing in Stansted Airport. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Planners adopted a "blinkered" approach to climate policy before green-lighting Stansted Airport's expansion plans, Uttlesford District Council has claimed.

In documents submitted to the High Court of Justice, UDC lawyers accused the government's Planning Inspectorate of "a serious failure to understand" climate change policy after it gave Stansted Airport the go-ahead to expand its capacity by eight million passengers each year.

UDC has unveiled the two grounds it could use to overturn the Planning Inspectorate's ruling in online documents, and 11 grounds to avoid paying Stansted Airport's appeal bill, a sum yet to be announced.

UDC hopes to secure the review by the autumn.

First, UDC has accused the Inspectorate of "excluding" a raft of climate change policies, and considering just three documents which form a single "national aviation policy" framework.

The submission reads: "The Planning Inspectorate Panel's approach to relevant climate change/carbon policies was blinkered."

It adds: "This was a serious failure to understand and apply relevant policy."

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Relevant policy refers to a series of reports and legislation which includes the UK's Sixth Carbon Budget.

Carbon Budget Six came into force in June and puts pressure on the international aviation industry to help the government meet its Net Zero by 2050 goal.

The council's second argument for a judicial review is that planners "unreasonably" overturned a council-imposed planning condition - known as Condition 15 - to limit noise, air quality and carbon emissions.

UDC argues Condition 15 meets a national planning policy requirement to make sure new builds find a balance between today's and future generations' needs.

A UDC spokesperson said: "The Planning Inspectorate panel failed to properly explain why it had rejected that condition."

The Planning Inspectorate also ruled UDC must pay Stansted Airport's appeal bill when it made its decision in May.

In June, a Planning Inspectorate spokesperson defended its ruling.

They said: "Inspectors are independent and impartial.

"When making a decision, inspectors give careful consideration to the evidence submitted at the time of the appeal taking account of current planning legislation, guidance and policy."

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