AN anti-airport expansion group says it is looking forward to working with a residents’ group which seized control of a council from the Conservatives.

The Residents For Uttlesford group won 26 of the 39 seats on Uttlesford Council, snatching an astonishing 17 from the Tories, at the local elections.

The Conservatives had held 24 seats before the election.

Among the Tories to lose their seats were five members of the council’s planning committee who voted in favour of a application to expand Stansted Airport.

The five councillors who voted against the expansion were all re-elected and the Stop Stansted Expansion group says it hopes the election can mark the end of the protest group’s bitter relationship with the council.

Stop Stansted Expansion boss Peter Sanders said: “I very much regret the fact that our relationship with the council has been strained in recent times as a result of the council’s mishandling of the current Stansted Airport planning application.

“We now have a change of administration and I am optimistic that this will allow us, once again, to have a cordial and business-like relationship with the council.

“This is an opportunity for a fresh approach.”

Among the 26 seats claimed by the residents’ group during the election were Felsted and Stebbing, Great Dunmow North, and Great Dunmow South and Barnston.

The Liberal Democrats won seven, the Tories took four and two were won by Independents.

On its website the Residents For Uttlesford group says: “We commit to a fairer deal with Stansted Airport to balance employment with their responsibility to deal with dirty air, noise, road and rail congestion, and village fly-parking.

“We will work closely with Stansted Airport to maximise local employment opportunities and to grow and keep new businesses in Uttlesford by exploiting the airport’s position as a logistics and communications hub near to London.

“We believe it is important that the airport owners recognise the principle that Stansted is an ‘airport in the countryside’ and accept the negative impacts caused by its operation and make progress towards their mitigation.”