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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Carlisle Airport saga set to go back to High Court

The saga over the redevelopment of Carlisle airport looks to be heading back to the High Court.

Irthington farmer Gordon Brown is challenging the city council’s decision to give planning consent to Stobart Group for a 394,000 sq ft distribution centre and to resurface the runway for scheduled flights.

A judicial review is due to be heard by a High Court judge in February.

The council’s development control committee had been due to revisit the planning application yesterday only for the item to be dropped for “legal reasons”.

Economic development director Jane Meek had asked councillors to consider Mr Brown’s legal arguments.

These include a claim they were “misled” by planning officers.

Had they agreed with him, the council would have found it impossible to defend the judicial review proceedings. But the discussion never took place.

Officials declined to go into detail but the News & Star understands the council received a letter from Mr Brown’s solicitors arguing that the agenda report was itself “misleading”.

Another airport objector, Peter Elliott, claimed the proposed debate amounted to contempt of court.

Mr Brown overturned a 2009 planning consent after he challenged the decision through the courts.

The council had to pay £185,000 in legal fees and foot a £76,000 bill for an investigation by the district auditor into alleged misuse of public funds.

She found there was no misuse but still criticised the council’s actions.

This time, Mr Brown agues that:

Planning officers gave “erroneous and seriously misleading” advice;

The planning application did not meet the criteria for “presumption in favour of development” outlined in national planning policy;

The council failed to comply with its obligations under the EU habitats directive;

The consent may amount to “unlawful state aid” under European law;

Stobart’s environmental assessment “unlawfully” failed to assess greenhouse gas emissions.

Stobart Group, meanwhile, has a fallback in case the airport scheme is grounded.

Earlier this month it won planning permission to build 310,000sq ft of warehousing plus 9,200sq ft of office accommodation at Kingmoor Park, on the northern edge of Carlisle.

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