Wednesday, 25 November 2015

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Work on Carlisle Airport revamp could start within weeks

Work on the long-awaited £20 million redevelopment of Carlisle Airport could begin in six weeks – provided there is not another legal challenge to the planning approval granted by councillors.

Carlisle airport photo
Carlisle airport

The city council’s development control committee has given the scheme – which includes the creation of a huge freight distribution depot – full approval.

It was the fourth time that councillors have given the project a green light.

The only thing now likely to stop the development proceeding would be an objector applying for and securing yet another judicial review of the planning approval.

Anybody wishing to do that must lodge the application within six weeks.

This week’s special meeting of the committee came after a change in the law gave fresh impetus to the airport plan: new case law means councillors were not obliged, as they were previously, to consider whether the airport would be commercially viable.

Nor did they have to make planning permission conditional on a promise to keep the airport open.

While there was little debate about the latest application, several members of the public did exercise their right to speak.

The first to do so was former helicopter pilot and aviation director Peter Elliott, one of the scheme's most outspoken opponents.

He showed the meeting a dramatic projector image of a helicopter crash in the US city Seattle, suggesting that granting permission to the scheme could produce a similar result and “endanger life”.

“I think it is a statistical certainty that there will be an aircraft which will crash within the next 50 years,” Mr Elliott claimed, adding that it was a statistical probability that this would happen during take off or landing. He said that all he wanted was for the runway to be realigned, to take the flight path away from Irthington village.

Dale Ransley, speaking for Irthington resident Charmi McCutcheon, said there was nothing in the report prepared for councillors which prevented Stobart from closing the airport, and doing this as soon as possible made “complete business sense”.

Crosby-on-Eden resident Mike Fox, who is also a Stanwix Rural parish councillor, said Stobart shareholders had previously been told that opening the freight distribution centre – measuring 241m by 151m – would reduce rather than create jobs.

He also suggested Stobart could close the airport before work to upgrade the runway even began.

The meeting also heard from Stobart officials, including the firm’s estates manager Richard Butcher who said: “Stobart genuinely want the airport to succeed – not only for our own business aspirations but also to make a significant contribution to the growth of the Carlisle and Cumbrian economies.”

Stobart Air boss Julian Carr predicted 40,000 people a year would fly from Carlisle to Stobart’s existing Southend Airport, and a further 20,000 a year to Dublin.

In the debate on the issue, the main contribution was from Councillor Ray Bloxham, who represents Longtown and Rockcliffe. He said the development would have a “heavy effect” on the area’s roads.

He called for restrictions on HGVs travelling through villages of Irthington and Ruleholme, and for central reservations to be introduced to improve safety at the junctions for those villages on the A689 next to the airport.

After the plan was approved, Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler said: “We believe the flights we have identified will be sustainable, and our customers often want air freight.

“Our business plan has always stacked up. Ideally, we would like to see work start in a couple of months.”

Have your say

I am sick of travelling to Glasgow to make my regular flights to London for work commitments. It WILL bring in tourists and create jobs locally! PLEASE GET IT BUILT

Posted by Rik Aindow on 11 December 2014 at 21:21

I am a firm believer that Carlisle should regain its passenger flights & the Stobart Group are in a perfect position to do this.

Flights to Southend & Dublin (the latter will connect to the Aer Lingus US network) will not only bring employment to the area, but tourism too. People from the USA can visit the Cumbria area with ease.

I find the comments made by Peter Elliott to be totally unreasonable. We can all "what if" all our lives, but he needs to be realistic. Carlisle used to have a good airport. My late father used to travel up & down from London, on a weekly basis for work purposes, so it does work.

As a resident in the Heathrow area for nearly fifty years, I say bring Cumbria in to the 21st century by having an airport.

I'm a travel agent, and will gladly support any passenger flights you have, plus I'll use them myself!

Good luck to the Stobart Group and those people in favour of the airport.

Posted by Paul Smith on 9 September 2014 at 11:45

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