Stansted Airport expansion granted on appeal with a full award of costs

Manchester Airport Group has secured planning permission to increase passenger numbers at Stansted Airport from 35 to 43 million passengers per annum (whilst remaining within its existing overall movement cap), following a public inquiry which sat from January to March 2021 before a Panel of three Planning Inspectors.

The appeal was against the refusal of planning permission by Uttlesford District Council, which reversed an original resolution to grant planning permission, taken in November 2018, when the new Residents For Uttlesford administration took control of the Council following the May 2019 local elections. The new administration subsequently refused permission on the grounds of alleged air quality, noise and climate change impacts, contrary to the advice of their planning officers.

Having heard the evidence, the Panel agreed with the airport's assessment that the environmental impacts of the development would be negligible and were clearly outweighed by the "very strong support" for the scheme in national aviation policy and "significant additional employment and economic benefits, as well as some improvement in overall noise and health conditions". Overall, the Panel concluded that "the balance falls overwhelmingly in favour of the grant of planning permission" and that permission should be granted.

The Panel also found that "the strength of evidence in favour of the proposal is such that the application should clearly have been granted planning permission by the Council" and that the Council had acted unreasonably in defending the appeal. Accordingly, it ordered that the Council pay the airport's full costs of the appeal.

Thomas Hill QC and Philippa Jackson acted for Manchester Airport Group/ Stansted Airport Limited.

Paul Stinchcombe QC and Richard Wald QC acted for the Rule 6 Party, Stop Stansted Expansion.