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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Legal action against Carlisle Airport redevelopment due to start within days

A legal challenge to the redevelopment of Carlisle Airport is expected to begin within days.

Gordon Brown photo
Gordon Brown

Irthington farmer Gordon Brown, who successfully overturned a previous planning consent in 2009, is taking up cudgels again.

He told The Cumberland News that a pre-action protocol letter would be delivered to Carlisle City Council imminently, probably next week.

He is challenging the council’s decision to grant planning permission to Stobart Group to resurface the runway and build a 394,000sq ft freight-distribution centre. Stobart had said that work on the £25m scheme would start “straight away”.

But it is unlikely that anything will happen until Mr Brown’s challenge has been resolved. He declined to discuss the details of his case.

A 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 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.”

Mr Brown previously warned councillors that granting permission might breach European state-aid rules.

These apply when a public body gives assistance to a business that might distort trade and competition. Mr Brown argued that, “at the very least”, the council should check with the European Commission before granting permission.

He also claimed that one of the council’s planning conditions was unenforceable.

This requires Stobart to keep the airport open unless the company can show it is unviable, even with rental income from the freight-distribution centre.

Councillors delayed consideration of Stobart’s planning application earlier this month to seek expert legal opinion on Mr Brown’s arguments.

They confirmed permission after their lawyers advised that there was no breach of the state-aid rules and that his other claim was “without basis”.

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