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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Carlisle Airport: Officers advise city councillors to stand by decision

Councillors are being recommended to stand by their decision to allow a £25 million redevelopment of Carlisle Airport.

Carlisle Airport photo
Carlisle Airport

Stobart Air’s proposal for a 394,000sq ft freight distribution centre and resurfaced runway was approved in principle in August, but never confirmed.

Officers are bringing the application back before the next meeting of the development control committee next Friday after objectors raised issues with Carlisle City Council.

They include a claim that allowing the scheme to go ahead would amount to “illegal state aid” under European law – rules a report by planners say are not infringed.

Concerns were also raised that a decision by Aer Arann – the airline which would operate flights from Carlisle to London Southend and Dublin – to withdraw flights from Waterford in Ireland meant flights from Carlisle could not be viable.

That is a situation which the latest report to councillors states “is not seen as representing a fundamental change in circumstances concerning Carlisle Airport”.

A letter was also received by the council about issues relating to the Stobart Group on the Stock Market.

In their report to councillors, planners state an assessment on the impact of the project on the River Eden has also been completed and the terms of a legal agreement, without which the revamp cannot go ahead, had been settled upon.

Planners have been considering and taking advice on the updated details put to them.

The report states: “It is considered that the new information does not fundamentally change circumstances regarding Carlisle Airport and the intricacies of the change in market conditions and performance of the Stobart Group on the Stock Market do not have a material bearing on the main planning issues.

“While not altering officers’ recommendation, as a precaution only – because it is not believed that councillors’ resolution would have been, or would be, different – the application is brought back to members.

“Having taken account of the new information, the report continues to recommend, on balance, that the proposal is approved, subject to the engrossment of the section 106 agreement (the legal document that must be completed) and imposition of the relevant conditions.”

The airport development is contentious. The council has received 402 letters, emails and petitions in support, and 91 against. Supporters argue it would pave the way for Aer Arann flights to London Southend and Dublin.

Objectors claim that passenger flights and air freight are not viable and that the promise of flights is a ruse to get permission for a huge road haulage depot in open countryside, which would otherwise be refused.

The Court of Appeal quashed an earlier planning consent in 2009 after Irthington farmer Gordon Brown, who lives opposite the airfield, sought a judicial review. He has also objected to the latest scheme.

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