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Friday, 19 December 2014

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£25m Carlisle airport plans back before planners

A £25M plan to redevelop Carlisle Airport is to go back before city councillors in the new year.

Stobart Air’s proposal for a 394,000sq ft freight distribution centre and resurfaced runway was approved in principle in August, but never confirmed.

Officers will bring the planning application back to the development control committee on January 25 to consider new information. Councillors can then confirm or revoke their earlier decision.

It is unlikely that members of the public will be allowed to speak.

One reason for the delay in confirming planning permission is that the council has been seeking legal advice on an objector’s claim that allowing the scheme would amount to “illegal state aid” under European law.

It has now received this advice, The Cumberland News understands.

The airport development is hugely contentious.

The council has received 402 letters, emails and petitions in support, and 91 against.

Supporters argue it would pave the way for Aer Arann flights to London Southend and Dublin.

Objectors claim that passenger flights and air freight are not viable and that the promise of flights is a ruse to get permission for a huge road haulage depot in open countryside, which would otherwise be refused.

The Court of Appeal quashed an earlier planning consent in 2009 after Irthington farmer Gordon Brown, who lives opposite the airfield, sought a judicial review. He has objected to the latest scheme and his solicitor, Dickinson Dees, wrote to the council in November demanding that the planning application be reconsidered.

The letter points to Aer Arann’s recent decision to withdraw from Waterford Airport in Ireland and argues that, if Waterford flights are not viable, those from Carlisle would not be either.

The letter warns that, if the council confirms planning consent without taking account of this new information, its decision would be susceptible to challenge.

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