Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 17:57 UK

Public inquiry over airport plans

Carlisle Airport
Stobart Air said the plans would create about 300 jobs

A public inquiry is to be held into multi-million pound plans to redevelop Carlisle Airport.

Stobart Air wants to spend 30m to build a new runway and improve freight facilities at the site.

The project has already been delayed by lengthy negotiations after Carlisle City Council imposed more than 50 conditions on the planning application.

Now Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, has "called in" the plans.

Stobart Air wants to build a runway, passenger terminal, air traffic control centre, hangars, office buildings, distribution warehouses and car parking facilities at the site.

The scheme was originally approved in March, but the firm said the high number of conditions imposed by the council were "impossible" to work with.

Planning inspector

When the company threatened to withdraw the proposals, a series of meetings were held and all the disputed issues were eventually resolved.

Final approval was given on 25 April, but the council also referred the application to the Secretary of State.

Airport director Richard Gordon said the firm was frustrated by the latest development in the long process.

He said: "This is so bitterly disappointing. We have the letter from the government office and now we need to understand what it is that we have not done."

The plans have been called in to address several points, including economic sustainability, public transport availability and environmental impact.

The inquiry will be held by a government planning inspector, who will then advise whether the project can go ahead.

No date or likely duration for the inquiry has yet been announced.

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