On 24th January three Green Councillors led the initiative to overturn their Council’s previous decision permitting London Stansted Airport’s application to expand.
It must be a national and international first that a Local Authority has put environmental concerns such as climate change, noise and air quality before the expansion of an airport and this will have major repercussions in the future for the worldwide aviation industry and for planning.
At a hearing on Friday, January 24, Green Cllr Paul Fairhurst, former Mayor of Saffron Walden, led Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee reviewing the application in a lengthy debate to reject the expansion with 10 votes in favour and 2 abstentions. “We had to stand up for residents, many of whom had spoken passionately about climate change and the environment and make sure that we at least kept the election promises made to them. We had to put their and our legitimate concerns before dubious short term economic growth”, he said.
“With my two Green colleague councillors, Paul Fairhurst and Barbara Light, we fought against all the odds over the past year to obtain this planning review: we fought against officer advice, against the administration and against the advice from three legal counsels who had been briefed exclusively on the Council’s established view”, commented Cllr Anthony Gerard, a chartered surveyor, who had prepared the list of material considerations and changes considered at the new hearing.
Throughout the past year, since the approval of expansion by the previous committee when it had been stated that there would be no more flights, council officers had refused to acknowledge that there were any new material considerations. And according to their reports for the January committee, there would apparently only be ‘negligible environmental impacts’ arising from the anticipated 47,000 additional flights each year.
“These reports were not only highly inaccurate”, stated Cllr Fairhurst, “but right up to a few minutes before the start of the hearing, committee members were threatened with the financial costs of making the wrong decision”.
“This is a landmark decision which will turn the tide and strike a better balance between company profits and the health and prospects of future generations”, added Cllr Light.
Expressions of thanks and congratulations are now flooding in from local communities in support of the courageous decision councillors took against Stansted Airport on Friday.
Truly a victory of democracy over bureaucracy and a first for the environment over corporate greed!
Uttlesford District Council’s 3 Green councillors with Caroline Lucas MP