Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Stobart Group praised by shadow foreign secretary

Praise has been heaped on Stobart Group by the Shadow Foreign Minister.

Andrew Tinkler photo
Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, right, with Andrew Tinkler

Douglas Alexander made the comments during a visit to the firm’s Kingstown HQ in Carlisle.

He spent time with Stobart chief Andrew Tinkler after Carlisle City Council’s development control committee approved the firm’s £20 million redevelopment of Carlisle Airport – for the fourth time.

The scheme has been repeatedly grounded by legal challenges, but Mr Tinkler hopes that work on the project – including the creation of a huge freight distribution centre and scheduled passenger flights – could get underway within a few months.

Mr Alexander spent more than an hour visiting the firm, inspecting the redevelopment plans and speaking to employees.

After making a brief speech and answering questions, he spoke about the controversial Carlisle Airport plan.

He said: “Connectivity matters with a modern economy, and the case put to me by Andrew and his team at Stobart sees this development as being a catalyst, not just for the airport but for the local economy.”

Mr Alexander accepted the scheme would have to adhere to strict planning regulations, but said he had been impressed by the “scale of ambition” shown by the Stobart Group in order to deliver economic opportunities to local people.

Commenting afterwards, Mr Tinkler said that the shadow foreign secretary had understood the business model and the vision which lay behind the Airport plan.

He said huge benefits would flow from the venture as it combined the firm’s current business methods with operating its own airline from Carlisle for freight and passenger flights directly to Dublin and the Group’s London Southend Airport.

He added: “People say the airport is a greenfield site but the local plan says that it is allowed to have this kind of development, with the freight distribution centre.”

Mr Tinkler had earlier rejected claims that the business has only ever been interested in building a “huge lorry park” in the countryside, saying that the firm is committed to running passenger flights, which will be made possible by revenue generated from the freight distribution arm of the business.

He hopes those flights will be underway by the summer of next year. Mr Tinkler insisted the passenger flights predicted are sustainable.

He would work with local farmers to work out an acceptable timetable for work to begin, he added.

But Irthington farmer Gordon Brown, whose application for a judicial review derailed the earlier planning approval for the scheme, said he is now considering his next move.


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Is The Autumn Statement good news for Cumbria?

Yes - the enterprise zone jobs and airport flights are a fantastic boost

It's more positive than expected but could have been better

I agree with Jamie Reed, it is all smoke and mirrors

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