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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

PLEASE ASK THE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE TO CALL IN THE RUNWAY EXTENSION APPLICATION/DECISION

On 13th December, Aberdeen City Council approved BAA’s application for a runway extention with a 33:6 majority. This decision is deeply disappointing, and a lot of us feel very unhappy with the way it was reached and with the debate that preceded it.

We have been advised that the Scottish Executive might decide to call in such an application if enough local objectors write to their MSPs and to the Minister for Communities.

You can write to your MSPs via this website: http://www.writetothem.com/ .
Since Malcolm Chisholm’s resignation, not new Minister for Communities has been appointed. You can write a general letter to ‘The Minister’ at scottish.ministers@scotland.gsi.gov.uk, and also to the Deputy Minister of Communities, Des McNulty (same email address).

You might like to make the following points in your letter:

1)
It is our understanding that Councillors were given no clear assurance that opposing the application against the advice from Planning Officers, and on grounds of global warming concerns, would not result in disciplinary/legal repercussions (they were told that this was unlikely but not that it could be ruled out).

2)
Councillors were clearly advised that local authorities were not competent to refuse such an application on grounds of climate change. We do not know whether this is correct under Scottish planning law.

3)
Councillors were advised not to allow a ‘deputation’, ie non-Members to give evidence because if the application was refused then BAA could challenge the refusal on grounds of ‘bias’ because both sides had not been given the opportunity to speak. After agreeing with this advice, it was then revealed that BAA themselves had asked for a deputation, thus undermining the argument regarding possible bias.

4)
Chief Council Officer Margaret Bochel advised Councillors that the decision made by Uttlesford District Council to refuse an application by BAA to expand Stanstead airport was not relevant because this was not a comparable type of application. We subsequently enquired with campaigners against Stanstead airport expansion who state that they believe the Council’s arguments and reasoning would have applied to a runway extension in exactly the same way as they applied to the application for an increase in the total number of flights (ie the one which was refused).

5)
Statements made in the Environmental Impact Assessment (commissioned by BAA) were accepted as facts without being questioned – despite clear evidence submitted by ourselves and individuals which completely undermine a number of those statements (see our briefing paper in the previous post).

One of our members took some very detailed notes of what was said at the meeting. If you would like us to email you those details, please contact us at Aberdeen_climatechange@yahoo.co.uk. Many thanks.

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