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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Stobart pulls out of Cumbria

HAULAGE giant Stobart will quit Cumbria, leaving Carlisle’s airport dream in tatters.

Andrew Tinkler photo
Andrew Tinkler

Angry Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler walked out of a Carlisle City Council meeting this morning withdrawing his plan to create a thriving terminal at the Irthington airfield.

He vowed to take his company - and its hundreds of jobs - to Widnes.

Mr Tinkler  said he could not agree to a list of more than 50 conditions attached to permission for the airport and business centre proposal by Carlisle City Council.

Councillors had earlier agreed to approve the plan, subject to fine-tuning of the conditions and analysis of new research by Cumbria Wildlife Trust about habitats in the area.

But Mr Tinkler left the meeting immediately and rushed to his car, telling reporters the plan was now dead.

“I can’t live with these conditions,” he said.

“Before I would be able to build on the site, I would have to do lots of other stuff which does not fit in with our business plan.

“I am now concerned with plan B, which will be relocation to Widnes. I’ve got to put it past the board first.”+

Mr Tinkler’s Stobart Air firm will continue to run the airport in its present form for the next three years to fulfill the obligations of its lease on it from the council.

After that, he says, he will drop his involvement.

“I’m not bitter, but I am disappointed, for me and for Cumbria. This was not a plan to fill my pockets, it was an investment for the people of Cumbria.”

Airport director Richard Gordon said: “I’m absolutely gutted. It was a huge opportunity to do something good for this region and they (the council) have blown it.”

Stobart Air had intended to build a new runway, passenger terminal, air traffic control centres, hangars, warehousing and offices at the site.

Scheduled flights to London and other destinations were planned and Mr Tinkler had also intended to move his Eddie Stobart haulage operation and WA Developments engineering firm to the site.

He had produced figures to indicate the airport would handle 200,000 passengers a year by 2016 with a daily average of four freight flights.

He said it would bring  jobs, prosperity and prestige to the area.

A special meeting of Carlisle City Council’s development control committee this morning ruled it was minded to approve the plan, subject to more than 50 conditions it wanted Stobart Air to adhere to.

They covered areas like traffic, noise, wildlife habitats and the number of flight allowed per day.

Stobart Air had drawn up a response to the conditions and suggestions for fine-tuning, but the company had referred to conditions discussed at a meeting last week and not ones drawn up for this morning’s committee meeting.

With that in mind, councillors opted to reject Stobart Air’s revised conditions and go with their own.

Further confusion was caused by a report from Cumbria Wildlife Trust about habitats at the site which the council only received yesterday and committee members had not read.

They ruled that head of planning services Alan Eales should read the report on their behalf and report back next week.

Provided the new information did not mean the proposal now contravened planning law, it would be approved and sent to the Government Office North West – who would then decide whether to call a public inquiry.

Councillors had earlier expressed concern that Stobart Air had refused to comply with a condition that demanded they finish building the new runway before putting any new buildings on the site.

There were also fears that traffic problems that would be created in Irthington as a result of the plan had not been dealt with.

The committee heard that objections to the plan – which now numbered over 100 – had continued to come in this week.

Eddie Stobart has a turnover in excess of £170 million, 2,000 employees, a fleet of 950 trucks, 1,500 trailers, a port and 27 depots at 27 locations throughout Europe. It includes a transportation and warehousing depot at Lillyhall in West Cumbria.

Have your say

i think it is a very sad day for cumbria that stobarts should be moving a big part of cumbria will be lost without the firm had the development gone ahead as it should it would have been very good for cumbria as a whole

Posted by ian on 5 January 2011 at 18:54

Thank You finaly the council have listened to the sense. Well done Mr Tinkler for sticking to your guns if more business people did this then Carlisle would soon become somewhere for people to move there business intrests to and not away from.
In the economic climate as it is any growth in carlisle is a blessing and a good sign to outsiders that we are doing something right.

Posted by Anon on 29 December 2010 at 10:19

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