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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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New legal challenge over Carlisle Airport redevelopment decision

A legal challenge is set to be launched against the decision to allow Carlisle Airport’s £25 million transformation.

Carlisle airport photo
Carlisle airport

Farmer Gordon Brown is making moves towards applying for a judicial review in an attempt to stop the development.

Transport giant the Stobart Group is clear to start work after signing a legal agreement with Carlisle City Council.

Chief executive Andrew Tinkler said the company would straight away begin creating a 394,000 sq ft freight distribution centre and to resurface the runway for air freight and scheduled passenger services.

But opposition has not disappeared.

Mr Brown has told the News & Star that Carlisle City Council and Stobart have been alerted that his legal team will be challenging the decision to grant planning permission.

The Irthington farmer continues to argue that the council’s actions are “unlawful”.

He said: “Carlisle City Council and Stobart Air have both been put on notice that they will receive a pre-action protocol letter, probably next week.”

Pre-action protocol identifies issues in dispute.

It is the first step towards applying to the courts to ask for judicial review into a decision made by a local authority.

A city council spokesman said: “We’ve received a letter from Mr Brown’s solicitor and are expecting more correspondence to follow. We will respond when we have had time to consider their position.”

A previous plan for the airport’s redevelopment was quashed by the Court of Appeal after Mr Brown sought a judicial review against that decision.

His opposition has remained to the new scheme, for which the council granted permission in August.

Councillors stood by that decision last month when the application was brought back before them in the light of “new information”.

Mr Brown claimed then that granting permission might breach European ‘state aid’ rules, which apply when a public body gives assistance to a business, which might distort trade and competition.

The council’s legal advice was that there was no breach.

Mr Brown also argued that one of the planning conditions – requiring Stobart to keep the airport open unless the company can show it is unviable, even with rental income from the freight-distribution centre – was unviable. Lawyers for the council said this was “without basis”.

Although planning permission for the new-look airport was granted in August, it is not until in recent days that a legal agreement between the council and developer, which must be completed before work can start, had been signed.

Mr Tinkler has said priority for the first stage of work would be given to the runway changes.

Stobart Group plans daily flights to London Southend and Dublin.

Councillors first granted planning consent for the airport’s redevelopment in April 2008, only for Mr Tinkler to withdraw the scheme when a public inquiry was called.

A second planning application approved in December that year was quashed following the judicial review sought by Mr Brown.

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