Farmer wins appeal against Stobart airport plans

Michael Hunt

Carlisle farmer Gordon Brown has won his legal fight to overturn planning approval for the redevelopment of the local airport.

Carlisle City Council's decision to grant planning permission for the £25m plans was quashed at 9.30am today at the Court of Appeal in London.

The ruling was announced by three Appeal Court judges, Lord Justice Jacob; Lord Justice Sullivan and Sir Mark Waller.

Brown, who is from Irthington and owns Lane End Farm opposite the Crosby-on-Eden airfield, said in court that the council did not assess the environmental impact of the proposals.

Carlisle City Council faces large legal bills and must reconsider the matter and was refused permission to appeal further to the Supreme Court and ordered to pay Brown's legal costs.

The council was told by Lord Justice Sullivan that it should have insisted on a full assessment of the environmental impact of not just of the storage facility but also for the development of the airport.

Reacting to the decision, Brown told Place: "As Lord Justice Sullivan has found, Carlisle City Council acted unlawfully which was agreed with by Sir Mark Waller and Lord Justice Jacob.

"I think the decision was a correct one and the judgement speaks for itself, so I'm pleased the consent has been quashed."

Stobart plans a new headquarters office and distribution storage centre at the airport as part of the expansion.

Stobart said it was willing to promise that it would not commence construction of the distribution storage centre until a full environmental impact assessment of the entire project was carried out. The plea was rejected.

Stobart intends to appeal today's decision.

Andrew TinklerAndrew Tinkler, Stobart Group chief executive, said: "We are very disappointed with the decision that the planning approval has been quashed, the application has therefore been returned to the City Council for redetermination. We intend to appeal as we feel the Court has not given due regard to us as an airport operator.

"Despite this setback, we remain committed to finding a solution for our future logistics activities at the Airport. But from a business aspect, we have little choice but to start looking at alternative options and sites that will also satisfy the requirements of the expanding Stobart business. That's the important thing for us, growing the business and securing more jobs for whichever region we will be based in."

Carlisle City Council granted planning permission for plans to build a freight storage and distribution facility at Carlisle Airport on Friday 19 December 2009.

In a statement released today, Cllr Mike Mitchelson, leader of Carlisle City Council, said: "Throughout this matter there has been no suggestion of doubt as to the merits of the regeneration of Carlisle Airport. We're disappointed with the ruling, as we've always been very supportive of the Airport development and the benefits it would provide to the wider economy.

"The City Council have consistently said that the process adopted with dealing with the application for the development at Carlisle Airport was not about avoiding a proper environmental assessment of the airside and non-airside works. Rather, the process adopted was intended to deal with this in a two stage approach. There has not been any indication that the proposed development was going to be allowed to proceed without a proper assessment of the proposed development and its implications.

"This stage process was found to be appropriate by the two previous Court Judgements.

"However, the Court of Appeal has now held that the cumulative environmental impact of the development should be assessed at the outset rather than in stages.

"The City Council will continue to work with the developer to bring forward improvements to Carlisle Airport for the benefit of the area."

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Airport is clearly developed to make money despite Council’s comments on jobs/economic benefit. Bearing in mind the sensitivity and impact of airport devt.,its very sloppy/careless/ignorant/onesided of the Council not to undertake an environmental study. Presumably the councillors/officers will not be picking up the waste of money on legal costs.

By Chris Threlfall