AIRPORT bosses have launched an appeal against a council's refusal of their plans to increase passenger numbers by eight million per year.

Stansted Airport has labelled Uttlesford Council's decision to reject the proposals 'flawed' and will now look to overturn the verdict by way of public inquiry.

Uttlesford Council rejected a planning application to increase passenger numbers in January due to concerns over increased noise and pollution.

If approved, the application would have seen the number of passengers using Stansted each year capped at 43 million.

Stansted chief exec Ken O'Toole claims the refusal of the plans was at odds with the majority of residents and businesses who he says supported the proposals.

He said: "In our view, the council failed to provide any credible or substantiated reasons to justify its decision to refuse the application.

"It is regrettable that we have been put in a position of having to appeal, particularly in light of the clear advice the council’s elected members received from their own officers and expert legal advisors, but also because of the time and significant costs that will be incurred as a result of the appeal.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the lives of people across the country and on the UK economy, and it is crystal clear that aviation will play a critical role in the local, national and global economic recovery.

"Our proposals have always been about growing Stansted in a sustainable way to support its vital role as the economic engine of the region, by responsibly managing its impacts and providing clarity for local communities.

"We are confident about the merits of our proposals and the prospects of securing the planning approval that will pave the way for Stansted to maximise its contribution to the success of the region it serves."

The plans to increase passenger numbers were originally approved in principle by Uttlesford Council in 2018.

But after the Conservative administration was replaced by the Residents for Uttlesford party in May 2019, the application was called back to planning committee and rejected.

Both Essex Chamber of Commerce and tourist company Visit East of England both support Stansted's expansion plans.