Alan Dean

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stansted North and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Learn more

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Uttlesford sacrifices its local environment and people to a larger Stansted Airport – BECAUSE OF BREXIT!!

by Alan Dean on 17 November, 2018

Uttlesford’s planning committee has voted to allow the number of  passengers using Stansted Airport to increase by over 50%. They claimed that this was necessary to help save the national economy from the effects of Brexit. The chairman of the committee had to break a tied five-all vote by using his casting vote to permit 43 million passenger a year. In voting for approval, Cllr Alan Mills said it was important to expand the airport so that the UK could “stand on its own two feet” after Brexit. He said that Uttlesford District Council had wider responsibilities than defending the local environment and people from the impact of a larger airport.

In reality, Manchester Airport Group’s approved runway improvements could accommodate well in excess of 50 million passengers; an airport the size of Gatwick.

Voting by the 10-member committee to reject the application came from one Conservative, one Liberal Democrat and three Residents for Uttlesford councillors. Votes to approve the application were cast by five Conservative councillors.

The committee failed to address many of the challenges put to it by over 100 people who spoke before it began its deliberations. Numerous issues raised by the public, district and parish councillors and the Stop Stansted Expansion community group at meetings over three days were left unanswered. The chairman admitted that. So why was a decision rushed through in less than four hours of discussion on one day only?

Little attention was paid to concerns about the airport’s impact on local road congestion. A paltry £800,000 was accepted from the airport to fix local road congestion, despite many protests that Essex Highways hasn’t even assessed properly what improvements will be needed. I doubt that £800,000 would even pay to prevent traffic in Stansted Mountfitchet alone from grinding to a halt and inflicting dangerous air pollution on its residents. So what hope can there be for Takeley, Great Dunmow, Bishop’s Stortford, Newport, etc., etc? This was all too much trouble for the committee to demand an answer. And carbon emissions and frightening climate change were for someone else to bother about!

A proposal to defer a decision until all outstanding issues had been answered was rejected. The result was a rushed, flawed and deeply divisive decision. It has done nothing to enhance the reputation of Uttlesford District Council.

UDC exists to defend the interests of the residents of this district. It does not exist to make decisions on behalf of the nation, especially in support of one so deeply divisive and potentially destructive as Brexit.

A properly conducted, thorough assessment of the airport’s commercial desires is needed. A public enquiry is needed. We must now await a decision from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, whether he will call-in UDC’s so that an in depth public inquiry can be conducted.

You can read here what I said to the committee near the start of Wednesday’s meeting. This is what I said to the committee at the previous week’s meeting for public representations.

 

 

   6 Comments

6 Responses

  1. Brian Ross says:

    Uttlesford Planning Committee meeting this week was at times farcical. Thank goodness the Secretary of State, (The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP) has instructed UDC to hold fire while he has a closer look at the decision. Hopefully he’ll take the matter out of UDC’s hands by ‘calling in’ the application. Lots of letters/emails could persuade him to do that. You can email him c/o National Planning Casework Unit at pcu@communities.gov.uk. Help save Uttlesford by taking take two minutes to do so.

  2. Jenny Smith says:

    Why did UDC go ahead with the planning meeting when they had already been told to hold fire by the Secretary of State? Was it because they had accepted payment from MAG to fast track the application? Whatever their motivation, they could and should have deferred the meeting and used that extra time to address the concerns raised by public and the councillors that had clearly poured over the application. It seems there were more questions than answers

    • Alan Dean says:

      The Council cannot issue the formal decision notice to the airport until the Sec of State has reviewed the decision. He might say “ok” or he might require a public enquiry. See Brian Ross’s comment.

    • Janice Loughlin says:

      Uttlesford did NOT fast track the application. The money was to pay for a dedicated officer’s time and independent consultants., etc. This is why it took so long!!! As new evidence came in the application was delayed. Not to have done so would have been negligent. If these fees had not been paid for by MAG The cost would have fallen on tax payers like you, me and others..
      PPA’s are common practice, In fact a peer review recently took place and UDC was told it didn’t use them enough! . .

  3. Jamie Short says:

    Janice loughlin you cannot seriously expect people to buy such utter nonsense. Those fees absolutely should be paid by the tax payer, because that way we might actually get a transparent, accountable process rather than the absolute fix that has taken place here.
    I hope there is a public inquiry and I hope that councillors, including one Alan Mills who subsequently admitted to not having even read the application, are brought to account.
    There is no way you can convince anyone this was a fair democratic process, it was bought and paid for by MAG. Cynical massaging of figures to avoid scrutiny, automated messages of support to boost the figures etc etc. I have read the reports and transcripts of the planning meeting and quite frankly the decision makers are either corrupt or so wildly underqualified to make a decision of this magnitude that they are remiss in there duty.
    All the people you claim to represent sold out for 5000 minimum wage jobs at an airport – truly something to be proud of.

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