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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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£250,000 won’t make Stobart's Carlisle Airport plan viable - claim

A farmer who fought against redevelopment plans for Carlisle Airport in the High Court believes that the project is still not commercially viable, despite fresh funding pledged by the Stobart Group for the flight provider.

Gordon Brown photo
Gordon Brown

The transport giant has given Carlisle City Council planners new information about how they intend to make the airport financially sound, after previous planning consent was overturned by the High Court in March.

The judge backed up claims, including those of Irthington farmer Gordon Brown, that the airport venture would not be commercially viable.

Now, the Stobart Group, headed by millionaire Andrew Tinkler, has come back with proposals to pump a further £250,000 into the project through airline subsidies.

Aer Arann, now known as Stobart Air and which Stobart has a 45 per cent stake in, has confirmed it is interested in running a service.

As a result of the High Court case, which lasted more than three years, the city council was left with a £200,000 legal bill, something that would have resulted in Mr Brown having to sell his farm had he lost the fight.

He would not be drawn on whether a fresh legal battle would be launched, saying the situation was “too premature”.

“There’s a process to go through but I will be making representations to the council. It is then down to them,” he told the News & Star. “I want to be charitable to Carlisle City Council and see what happens. The council have the information and it’s for the council to decide what happens.

“If any reasonable assessment is done then you wouldn’t build an airport at Carlisle because is doesn’t make business sense. There’s a mass of contradictions to what Stobart have said in the past, what they’ve told their stakeholders and what they are saying now. If the city council analyse what is in there this will all become apparent and would lead to a refusal.”

He hoped a line could be drawn under the situation and pointed out that there were no objections to plans for a storage and distribution centre at Kingmoor, in the north of city.

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