| LATEST PLANS TO EXPAND STANSTED
Stansted Airport handled 24.3 million passengers last year (2016) and this year will handle just over 25 million. It already has permission to grow to 35 million, granted after a five-month public inquiry held in 2007. Despite this, Manchester Airports Group, Stansted's owners, said this summer that it "urgently" needed permission to expand to a massive 44.5 million passenger airport over the next 12 years.
The expansion plans would have meant almost 20 million more passengers and an extra 104,000 flights annually compared with today. This translates into an aircraft overflying during daytime hours from the current average of every 2¼ minutes, to a plane every 85 seconds, in contrast to the airport's claim that there will be "no significant adverse environmental effects".
Since then, clearly taken aback by the scale of the community's response, there has been a retrenching by Stansted's owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG), dressed up in the guise of 'having listened to the community'. MAG claims that it has reduced the scale of its proposed expansion but the reality is that its changes are almost entirely presentational.
SSE views this as a cynical ploy to minimise opposition to the planning application as it consists simply of:
a) Removing the projection of 44.5 million passengers in 2029 and projecting no further than 2028, where the figure remains at 43 million passengers; and
b) Claiming that this level of throughput can be handled with 274,000 aircraft movements per annum rather than its original proposal for 284,000 aircraft movements, whille remaining vague as to what constitutes an aircraft movement.
What Stansted Airport fails to point out, however, is that the present annual flights cap of 274,000 is meaningless, because the present planning cap of 35 million passengers per annum will, by MAG's own admission, be achieved with only 243,000 flights.. The effect of raising the passenger cap would therefore be to enable the airport to increase the number of flights by 31,000.
Moreover, compared to Stansted's actual level of activity last year - 24.3 million passengers and 181,000 flights, an increase in the limits to 43 million passengers and 274,000 flights per annum represents a 77% increase in passengers (giving rise to a similar level of increase in airport-related road traffic) and a 51% increase in flights, i.e. an extra 1,800 flights per week.
The application is now expected in early 2018 at which point we will be scrutinising its contents - and UDC's handling of its review - in order to make representations on such issues as noise from overflying, impacts on local roads and rail, community well-being and quality of life.
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SSE Submission to UDC on Stansted Airport Scoping Report (July 2017)
SSE Asks: What's the Rush? What's the Truth? (July 2017)
SSE Warns Don't be Hoodwinked by Stansted Spin (6 July 2017)
Airport Environmental Scoping Report for 44.5 Million Passengers
Planning Portal - Documents for Airport Expansion Application (June 2017)
SSE Brands Airport Expansion Plans Premature and Opportunistic
(19 June 2017)