Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport



TTG Media Online News - 29 November 2018

Stansted has been given the go ahead to extend its operations to welcome a maximum of 43 million passengers a year.

The Essex airport currently handles around 27 million passengers a year, with capacity for 35 million a year in total. However, Uttlesford District Council last week green lit the airport's proposed growth plans. This will add capacity for another eight million passengers a year, creating 5,000 new jobs, the airport says.

New capacity, said the airport, will be delivered "within existing flight limits", supporting more international connectivity, including more long-haul routes. By way of mitigation, Stansted says its noise footprint will be smaller than under previous permissions and will be accompanied by a "comprehensive package of community measures".

Following the government's approval of expansion at Heathrow through a new third runway, airports across the UK have been encouraged to pursue schemes to make best use of existing facilities and airspace.

Ken O'Toole, Stansted chief executive, said the new capacity would be delivered over the next decade. "The decision offers London Stansted and its airline partners the long-term clarity we need to make further investment decisions at the airport but also provides the local community with the assurance our future growth will be delivered in a measured and sustainable way."

"The decision is great news for the airport, our staff and the growth ambitions of the region, London and the wider UK. [It] will improve passenger choice and convenience and boost international long-haul routes to fast-growing markets like China, India and the US. The combination of the strong economic health of our catchment, our available runway capacity, the 600 million investment we are making in our facilities and the continuing desire of local residents to travel by air by London Stansted, will collectively ensure the airport has a bright future."


"Fortunately this is not the end of the road so we would advise
Stansted Airport not to start popping the champagne corks just yet"

Dunmow Broadast - 16 November 2018

We rewind the clock on London Stansted Airport this week as we take a look at the UK's fourth busiest airport back in the 1940s and 50s, when it was a base to the US Air Force.

Stansted began life as a American Airforce Second World War base in 1943. The decision was taken by the British government and American military in 1942 to build a US Air Force base at Stansted. A converted wartime Nissen hut served as the terminal building in the 50s.

In 1944 the airfield became fully operational but had an unexpected arrival in 1943 from a battle-damaged RAF Short Sterling bomber. Stansted was home to the USAAF Eighth Air Force.

Stansted soon became the 9th largest US Air Force base in East Anglia and became home to the 344th Bomb group, known as the 'Silver Streaks' consisting of four squadrons of B-26 Marauder bombers.

D-Day saw the Stansted bombers leading 600 aircraft over the beaches of France to attack enemy positions. In July 1944 the bomb group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for three days of intense action supporting the allied invasion.

By August 1945, the US forces had moved out but they returned in the 1950s to strengthen and extend the runway, leaving the airport with what remains to this day, one of the UK's longest runways.


Jessia Hill - East Anglia Times - 15 November 2018

The meeting to decide whether to allow Stansted to boost its passenger capacity by 8m a year finally came to a nail-biting finish last night, but has left a bitter taste in the mouths of some of those present.

The campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) expressed dismay and disappointment that Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted Airport's planning application to grow to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum, and accused some councillors of 'not having done their homework'.

The UDC Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with five in favour of the application - including the Planning Committee Chairman - and five against. Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional vote, and the decision was eventually made in favour of Stansted Airport's plans.

"If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared to last year's levels," a spokesperson for the campaign group explained.

"The Planning Committee decision followed an all-day meeting which was at times farcical. SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him to call in the application. These further representations will include additional reasons for this, including evidence relating to the nature and conduct of yesterday's meeting, for which there is a complete audio recording."

SSE will also be discussing possible next steps with its legal advisers, depending to some extent on the outcome of the High Court challenge SSE is already pursuing in relation to the application.

SSE Deputy Chairman Brian Ross commented: "Of course we are disappointed to lose the argument yesterday in such a shameful fashion, with the outcome ultimately resting on the Chairman's casting vote. It was especially galling when most of the councillors who voted in favour of approval made very little attempt to engage in the proceedings and showed little evidence of having done their homework. This was not Uttlesford District Council's finest hour. Fortunately this is not the end of the road so we would advise Stansted Airport not to start popping the champagne corks just yet."

But for some people in the local business community, the outcome was the cause for celebration. Denise Rossiter, Chief Executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said "We are delighted that the planning committee saw sense and approved this application. Stansted is a major asset to not just Essex but also the wider UK economy and this will be enhanced as the airport develops more routes in the future. It will help secure existing jobs at the airport but also lead to the creation of new ones."

Stansted's own chief executive Ken O'Toole said that the decision offers London Stansted and its airline partners "the long-term clarity we need to make further investment decisions at the airport. But also, importantly, it provides the local community with the assurance that our future growth will be delivered in a measured and sustainable way," he added.

"The combination of the strong economic health of our catchment, our available runway capacity, the 600 million investment we are making in our facilities and the continuing desire of local residents to travel by air by London Stansted, will collectively ensure that the airport has a bright future."


Imogen Bradick - Dunmow Broadast - 14 November 2018

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed "dismay and disappointment" in response to Uttlesford District Council's decision to approve Stansted Airport's expansion plans.

Stansted Airport secured planning approval from Uttlesford District Council yesterday (November 14) to expand airport capacity to 43 million passengers a year from 35 million.

SSE has said it will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State for the Department for Transport to call in the application. These further representations will include additional evidence relating to the nature and conduct of yesterday's meeting, for which there is a complete audio recording.

SSE said it will also be discussing possible next steps with its legal advisers. However, it may not be necessary for any further legal steps to be taken by SSE. This to some extent depends on the High Court challenge which SSE is already pursuing in relation to this application. If this legal challenge succeeds, SSE said the approval granted yesterday by UDC would be overturned without the need for further legal proceedings.

SSE deputy chairman Brian Ross said: "Of course we are disappointed to lose the argument yesterday in such a shameful fashion, with the outcome ultimately resting on the chairman's casting vote. It was especially galling when most of the councillors who voted in favour of approval made very little attempt to engage in the proceedings and showed little evidence of having done their homework."


Jessica Hill - East Anglian Daily Times - 6 November 2018

A campaign group fighting Stansted Airport's plans to be allowed to boost their passenger numbers have criticised the airport's latest publicity campaign as "a complete distortion of the facts".

A week before the crunch planning meeting when Uttlesford District Council (UDC) will decide whether Stansted should be allowed to increase its capacity from 35 million to 43 million passengers a year, the campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has lashed out at Stansted's video campaign, in which it claims to have the support of more than 200 companies, as "a desperate eleventh hour attempt by the airport's spin doctors to influence members of UDC Planning Committee."

A statement by the group claims that Stansted's plans would result in an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide - the main contributor to global warming - by an average of over a million tonnes a year.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders claims the application, if approved, would have "very serious environmental consequences for this generation and future generations. It would inflict yet more noise misery upon local residents and it would be a recipe for gridlock at Junction 8 of the M11, as well as on many of our key local roads," he said. "We simply do not have the infrastructure to support an airport the size of Gatwick."

Stansted Airport claims that Uttlesford District Council has received hundreds of submissions of support for the plans, including those from locally-based corporate backers such as Adnams, CBI East of England, Greater Anglia, Haven Gateway Partnership, New Anglia Enterprise, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, University of Essex and Visit East Anglia. It also claims the support of its own employees.

But SSE accuses Stansted of "repeatedly badgering all airport employees to trigger automatic computer-generated 'I support expansion' emails. "Only some 900 out of 12,000 airport employees did so, and only 16 members of the general public sent individual letters or emails to UDC supporting the expansion proposals," claimed SSE in their statement.

UDC says it has received 934 individually-written letters and emails opposing the expansion proposals, including objections from 47 Parish Councils. The group claims that "not a single Parish Council has registered its support for the expansion proposals."

"This is a choice between the facts and spin; between the airport PR machine and the interests of our precious local environment and the quality of life for local residents, their children and grandchildren," added Mr Sanders.

"We don't have the funds to invest in glossy publications, slick videos and celebrity endorsements. We do however have the confidence that our elected representatives will not be swayed by the spin. We are confident that UDC Planning Committee will focus on the hard evidence and its duty to the community and, accordingly, will not permit these highly damaging airport expansion proposals."

Has "False Truth" hit Uttlesford?


Jessica Hill - East Anglian Daily Times - 5 November 2018

The chief executive of Stansted Airport claims he is "overwhelmed" by the support he has received for plans to raise the number of passengers Stansted can handle each year.

The airport has today released a video showcasing why supporters are backing Stansted's plans to boost passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million. The "We're Backing Stansted" film includes comments from Stansted Airport College, AstraZeneca, Invest Essex, local businesses and airport staff.

It also features comment from ex England cricketer Ronnie Irani, who is now Cricket Committee Chairman at Essex Cricket Club. "We can all sit back and think Stansted Airport and the development - does that suit me?" he says on the video. "It isn't about me, it's getting to a stage where you want to look at what's going to suit the next generation and after them. I'm backing Stansted Airport because I believe in the youth and the opportunities it's going to bring about."

Uttlesford District Council's Planning Committee is due to decide on the application on 14 November. The airport is committed to delivering the additional eight million passengers within existing limits on flight movements and noise impacts, while also creating 5,000 new jobs, generating an additional 1 billion economic value add for the region, improving passenger choice and securing international long-haul routes to fast-growing markets like China, India and the USA.

Uttlesford District Council has received hundreds of submissions of support for the plans, including those from locally-based corporate backers such as Adnams, CBI East of England, Greater Anglia, Haven Gateway Partnership, New Anglia Enterprise, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, University of Essex and Visit East Anglia.

The airport's chief executive, Ken O'Toole, said he been "overwhelmed" by support from a wide spectrum of the local community. "The huge volume of submissions that Uttlesford District Council has received for our application reaffirms our belief that the phased and managed development of the airport is the right approach to take, and gives the local community confidence that future growth can be delivered in a measured and sustainable way," he said.

"London Stansted is not only the fastest growing airport in the UK, it's also virtually unrecognisable from the one which MAG acquired in 2013. During this time, we have spent 150m on upgrading the terminal, added nearly 10 million passengers and 40 new routes and brought a whole new ambition to the airport. But this is only the beginning of what we can achieve. We are investing 600 million to transform the airport facilities for passengers and our airline partners and, following the successful arrival of world-leading airline Emirates this summer, our work to attract more long-haul routes to fast growing markets like China, India and the USA continues to gather pace."

"We now need to make best use of Stansted's available airport capacity through continued strong and sustainable growth and deliver the next phase of the airport's evolution. I would urge those who back their local airport and share our vision of the future to pledge their support and join the hundreds who have already made their views known."


Vanessa Chalmers - Daily Mail Online - 5 November 2018

Living near to a noisy road or an airport triples your risk of a heart attack or stroke, research suggests. Scientists warned the boosted odds also exist for non-smokers and people who don't have diabetes - who already face a heightened risk.

Exposure to environmental noise drives a brain region involved in stress response, Massachusetts General Hospital experts say. This then promotes blood vessel inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Those exposed to chronic noise, such as near an airport, showed more inflammation in their arteries, and a greater than three-fold risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular events

Researchers led by Dr Azar Radfar used 499 people for the study. Participants had an average age of 56 years old in the study. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions conference in Chicago today.

None of the participants had cardiovascular illness or cancer. They all underwent simultaneous PET and CT scans of their brain and blood vessels. Using those images, the scientists assessed the activity of the amygdala - an area of the brain involved in stress regulation and emotional responses.

To gauge noise exposure, the researchers used participants' home addresses and derived noise level estimates from the Department of Transportation's Aviation and Highway Noise Map. To capture cardiovascular risk, the researchers examined the participants' medical records following the initial imaging studies. Of the 499 participants, 40 experienced a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, in the five years following the initial testing.

People with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdala activity and more inflammation in their arteries. Their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke was greater than three-fold, compared with people who had lower levels of noise exposure. That risk remained elevated even after the researchers accounted for other risk factors, including air pollution, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.

Additional analysis revealed that high levels of amygdalar activity appears to unleash a pathway that fuels cardiac risk by driving blood vessel inflammation, a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

"A growing body of research reveals an association between ambient noise and cardiovascular disease," said Dr Radfar. "But the physiological mechanisms behind it have remained unclear. We believe our findings offer an important insight into the biology behind this phenomenon."

The results of the study offer much-needed insight into the biological mechanisms of the well-known, but poorly understood, interplay between cardiovascular disease and chronic noise exposure, researchers said. They caution that more research is needed to determine whether reduction in noise exposure could meaningfully lower cardiovascular risk and reduce the number of cardiovascular events on a population-wide scale.

In the meantime, however, the new findings should propel clinicians to consider chronic exposure to high levels of ambient noise as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. "Patients and their physicians should consider chronic noise exposure when assessing cardiovascular risk and may wish to take steps to minimize or mitigate such chronic exposure," Dr Radfar said.

Last month, research also linked traffic noise pollution to a higher risk of depression. Researchers warned that being regularly exposed to more than 65 decibels, which is quieter than a lorry, can increase a persons risk by two thirds.


Noise can not only cause annoyance, but it can interfere with sleep, damage hearing and put people's health at serious risk. The World Health Organisation recommends a guideline level of 30 dB LAeq for undisturbed sleep, and a daytime level for outdoor sound levels of 50dB to prevent people from becoming 'moderately annoyed'.

Physiological effects of exposure to noise include constriction of blood vessels, tightening of muscles, increased heart rate and blood pressure and changes in stomach and abdomen movement. A number of reports have made direct links between transport noise and cardiac health.

A study by Barts and the London School of Medicine in 2015 found that people surrounded by daytime traffic noise louder than 60db were 4 per cent more likely to die than those where noise levels were 55db - roughly the level of a loud conversation.

In the first study of its kind, researchers in Denmark in 2011 found that for every ten decibels more noise, the risk of a stroke increased by 14 per cent. The risk increased by 27 per cent for those aged 65 and over. Research published this year that tracked thousands of people living in Amsterdam over a four year period, found that being exposed to traffic noise over 70 decibels (db) were 65% more at risk of depression.

The World Health Organization has calculated that at least 1m healthy life-years are lost every year in western European countries because of environmental noise.

18 millon more passengers for Stansted Airport?

MAG's application for the increase may not be achieved for several years,
but there is no effective plan for increasing passenger facilities...


Patrick Collinson - The Guardian - 4 August 2018

In Stansted Airport, it's Friday and the start of the great summer holiday getaway. So half of the security scanners are closed, and we patiently join the queues snaking along the nylon barriers wondering nervously if we should have paid for fast track. Past this stage it usually gets better. Shops, drinks, and a holiday mode sets in. But last Friday the 27 July what unfolded in Stansted was an unprecedented descent into chaos.

A passing thunderstorm - we saw just one flash of lightening - was sufficient to throw the airport and Ryanair, whose main hub is at Stansted, into complete disarray.

The airport prefers to extract huge rents from retailers rather than provide much seating to customers, so as the delays piled up, as passengers fought for somewhere to rest, lying in aisles, grabbing any space possible, crying children in tow. Not until 11pm was there any single word of information on my own flight, scheduled for 8.20 pm.

At the departure gates it got worse. Just one single Ryanair uniformed woman was fending off angry passengers at the multiple gates in terminal A. Hundreds of people were sent up and down the terminal, as they appeared to be almost randomly shifted from one gate to another. But the bars were busy, Too busy.

Before long some clowns grabbed the PA system and were screaming nonsense across the airport. The toilets flooded. In the men's a manager was shouting at an agency worker to clean it up and we navigated through the mess.

Those bound for Italy seemed to have it worst. They were boarded on Ryanair planes, supposedly ready to take off, only to sit on the tarmac for hour after hour. We finally boarded sometime after midnight, thanks to the single Ryanair worker who was still there, scanning boarding passes.

Then we heard of the "retrievals", passengers ordered off planes, having spent 3 hours waiting for takeoff. At the back of my plane the drinkers had started vomiting over the seats. The same poor agency worker cleaning the toilet was summoned on board, mop in hand.

A near-riot had erupted as passengers demanded if we were ever going to take off, or be "retrieved". The cabin staff said they had no cue. And told us astonishingly that they weren't even being paid anyway. Finally we were cleared for take-off. But Stansted no longer had any ground staff. So, the bags could not be loaded. Eventually as the middle of the night approached, we actually took off, to loud cheers.

We were the lucky travellers. The "retrieved" were usually cancelled, left to fester for days waiting for an available seat on other flights.

On Monday, my 8pm return flight - it was a weekend break - was delayed by four and a half hours with no thunderstorms to blame. And when I subsequently tried to claim my EU261 compensation for that homeward leg via the airline's website? Thanks Ryanair, for demanding an IBAN number it knows that UK passengers hardly ever use. Then after carefully downloading one from my bank I was told it was not valid.

I have two holiday days in August. I think I might just stay at home.


Letter in the Times - 6 August 2018

Noise pollution

Sir, Your leading article (Aug. 6th) rightly draws attention to the role of motorbikes as a cause of noise pollution. Robert Koch, the father of haematology who discovered the tubercle, anthrax, and cholera bacilli and was awarded the Nobel prize in 1905, said "The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague." He was certainly ahead of his time.

Today considerable noise pollution is generated by aviation, creating health problems related to loss of sleep, fatigue and accidents from concentration failure. Moreover, increasing attention is now being focused on the effects of noise on children's education, as well as cardiovascular disease induced by aircraft noise. To this must be added a bill of ill-health induced by pollution from road traffic noise in the vicinity of airports, which can not only induce respiratory disease but also cardiovascular problems.

Although personal life style changes can and have resulted in a reduction in cardiovascular disease, the government has a duty of care to its population. Efforts must be made to reduce the burden and cost of disease resulting from traffic induced pollution.

Emeritus Professor of Clinical Virology, KCL, Henham, Essex


Madeline Cuff - BusinessGreeenNews Online - 19 June 2018

A project to turn landfill waste into sustainable jet fuel has received a major boost today, securing almost 5m of funding from the government and industry backers. The Department for Transport has committed 434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK.

The plant would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of post-recycled waste - otherwise destined for landfill - and convert it to fuel for aeroplanes. The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed 1.5m to the next phase of development.

The scheme has also secured a further 3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. The airline plans to use the waste-based fuel to help cut its greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft by up to 70 per cent, and particulate matter emissions by up to 90 per cent.

"We are very pleased that the government has recognised the importance of alternative fuels for aviation and has supported our joint project with Velocys which will help to reduce carbon emissions and create UK jobs and growth," said Alex Cruz, CEO of British Airways.

The funding for the Velocys project is part of 22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of a new breed of sustainable fuels for aviation and freight transport. Some 2m was awarded to firms today for further research and scoping work, and recipients of this will be invited to bid for a share of 20m for construction work.

As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) - a shift that has further boosted the long term commercial viability of a waste jet fuel plant in the UK, Velocys said. Waste-based jet fuel is widely regarded as a crucial tool for helping to decarbonise the aviation sector. But it is still an expensive alternative to traditional fuels, restricting its use primarily to test flights.

"The waste-to-jet fuel project has the potential to help transform the aviation industry by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the air quality around our country's airports," Grayling said in a statement on today's funding news. "That is why we are providing support to this important technology as part of our 22m of funding for alternative fuels, which will pave the way for clean growth in the UK."

But pressure is set to intensify on the government to give the industry more of a helping hand, if plans for a third runway at Heathrow go ahead. Last week the government's climate watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change, wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling reminding him the UK's current legally binding pledge to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 means aviation emissions must be at 2005 levels by 2050.

This "relatively generous" aviation budget represents a doubling of 1990 emissions, but will still require the widespread use of sustainable biofuels by the airline industry and moves by other sectors of the economy to cut their emissions to almost zero, if UK climate targets are to be met the CCC said. An expansion of airport capacity at Heathrow is likely to require further emissions cuts across aviation and the wider economy, the CCC warned.

The hopes are the latest funding boost for jet biofuels will help revive a fledgling sector that has faced a series of setbacks in recent years. Most notably, BA previously shelved a 340m green fuels project, citing a lack of support from government.

OUR COMMENT: Climate change effects? Let's see the actual figures and include carbon from the waste into biofuel process.

Pat Dale


Huw Wales - Hertfordshire Mercury Online - 15 June 2018

Plans to increase the number of passengers allowed through Stansted Airport, along with other infrastructure, have been delayed after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) asked for more information. The application to expand the number of passengers allowed through the airport in a year from 35 million to 43 million was due to be heard by UDC on July 18.

However the application is unlikely to be heard for months after the announcement from the council, with another consultation and at least one public meeting to be held on the proposals, as well the revised description of the planning application.

A spokesperson from the council said: "The council has been examining the robustness of the evidence supplied within the application, particularly in relation to surface access, noise and air quality. Ongoing discussions are taking place with relevant stakeholders including Highways England, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils, Natural England and engaged consultants, and further work is being undertaken."

"This is expected to lead to additional information being submitted by the applicant to ensure that the Planning Committee is provided with all the information it needs to make an informed decision on the application. Until this information is provided, and consulted upon, the council is unable to propose an alternative date for determination."

The application aims to build two new taxiway links to the existing runway, six additional remote aircraft stands, three additional stands to enable a combined airfield operations of 274,000 planes, and of these no more than 16,000 would be cargo planes. It also seeks to increase the passenger cap that is in place on Stansted Airport.

UDC has also announced that the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA), an agreement that fast tracks the application in return for monetary payments to UDC's planning officers to cover the costs of processing the applications, will be re-negotiated. In the statement it says: "In the meantime, the council will continue to meet with the applicant and other relevant consultees to discuss the progress of the application, whilst the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) for this application will be re-negotiated in order to cover the extra work required."

"The council would like to reiterate that the use of PPAs follows best practice and does not in any way impact on the outcome - it is not a guarantee of planning permission. The Planning Committee judge every application on its merits, taking into account the relevant issues as well as comments made by the public and statutory agencies."

These payments had been labelled as 'cash for favour' agreements by campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion, something that was denied by UDC.

It could be months before the application is heard

A London Stansted Airport spokesman said: "Our application to make best use of our existing runway is vitally important for the future success of London Stansted Airport and the wider region and it is only right that the council carefully considers all the relevant evidence and responses from statutory consultees. To assist this process, and in response to requests from the council and stakeholders, we will provide additional information to support our application."

"Last week we welcomed the Government's confirmation that it supports airports looking to make best use of their existing capacity and we are delighted that the amount of support pledged by local people and businesses for our application has doubled over the last month. It is vital for the UK economy that we have the best possible aviation connections to compete in a global marketplace. Growing support for our plans is clear recognition that by unlocking the airport's potential to serve up to 43 million passengers and extend the choice of airlines and destinations we serve, Stansted can deliver that access now."


Huw Wales - Hertfordshire Mercury Online - 12 June 2018

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has defended itself from allegations by a group opposed to the expansion of Stansted Airport that claims the owners of the airport had written part of its Local Plan.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) claims that wording in the Local Plan was written by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and that the council's planning officers were 'bending over backwards' to help them. These allegations were strongly denied by UDC, which said that the planning application to expand the number of passengers going through Stansted Airport from 35 million to 43 million was being dealt with in line with the Government's best practice.

SSE however has argued that the Local Plan would provide no upper limit for expansion of the airport and that the policy had been drawn up after multiple meetings between the MAG and UDC. The group claims that these meetings, which they found out about using an FOI, had no formal minutes.

SSE deputy chairman Brian Ross said: "This is yet another attempt by Manchester Airports Group to manipulate the planning system to achieve its own objectives. The most worrying aspect is that UDC planning officers seem to be bending over backwards to accommodate MAG, regardless of the impact on the local community whose interests they are supposed to serve. The growing catalogue of concerns about UDC's handling of this airport planning application and the lack of transparency in the council's dealings with MAG make it all the more important for this application to be taken out of UDC's hands and dealt with by the Secretary of State."

A council spokesman said: "The council does not accept the points raised by Stop Stansted Expansion, and continues to process the planning application in line with Government best practice. The Government has stated that it expects that planning applications to increase existing airport planning caps by fewer than 10 million passengers per annum (mppa) can be taken forward through local planning authorities under the 1990 Planning Act and not referred to the Secretary of State as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project."

"It is also important to clarify that the revised policy in which SSE refer, Policy SP11 within the Local Plan, was prepared by the council, not Manchester Airports Group. The policy contains a number of important caveats, and allows the council to consider a planning application for use of Stansted Airport's capacity on its merits. A policy that limited the airport to 35 mppa would not take account of other planning considerations, would be unlikely to be favourably considered by the Inspector at the Local Plan examination, and in the longer term would be superseded if planning permission was granted. The policy only refers to land within the existing airport boundary, so would not be relevant to any second runway proposal which is not Government policy in any event."

"The principle of Policy SP11 referring to "the permitted capacity" was a change made by the Planning Policy Working Group before the council consulted on preferred options for the local plan in 2017. Members decided on this approach following public speaking at a meeting of the working group in which SSE put forward its views."

Stansted Airport was also approached for comment regarding SSE's comments but a spokesperson said they had nothing further to add.


eadt.co.uk News Online - 5 June 2018

Campaigners against expansion at Stansted Airport have reacted to plans to create a third runway at Heathrow.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling revealed proposals to add a third runway to the airport yesterday after a three year investigation run by the Airports Commission. The resulting report considered a series of different options to improve air transport in the UK. Stansted failed to make the final round of considerations for expansions - and was beaten by Gatwick and Heathrow.

In his Commons statement, Mr Grayling stressed that Heathrow expansion would bring benefits across the country. "The time for action is now. Heathrow is already full and the evidence shows the remaining London airports won't be far behind," he said.

Members of the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group have said that although their sympathies lie with the villages that could be affected near Heathrow, they are pleased potential changes near them have been slowed down. Brain Ross, the deputy chairman of SSE, said: "It kicks it into the long grass. It puts an end to the second runway at Stansted for a long time."

Mr Ross was cautious about how long the legal process would take place before work starts at Heathrow. "It cannot be assumed that it is bound to happen," he said. Even if it were to happen, Mr Ross suggested airports like Stansted may have to increase their capacity.

In response to the Government's announcement, London Stansted CEO Ken O'Toole said yesterday: "Ahead of the anticipated decision from Uttlesford District Council relating to our application to increase the airport's limit on passenger numbers to 43 million per year, we welcome today's statement from the Government confirming its support for airports looking to make best use of existing capacity."

"Building on these successes, we are investing 600million to improve the airport experience and have submitted a planning application to make best use of our single runway. This will unlock Stansted's potential and enable us to serve up to 43 million passengers, deliver 50% of London's expected passenger growth over the next decade and extend the choice of airlines and destinations we serve."


City & Finance Reporter - Daily Mail - 1 June 2018

The outspoken 57-year-old sold 2m shares in the budget airline on Wednesday at €16.49 each, earning him 28.9million. The move is a year after he sold 4m shares for 63million.

O'Leary remains the Irish company's third-largest shareholder with a 3.8 per cent stake, or 44m shares, worth 641.5million.

Ryanair declined to comment as to why the chief executive was selling the stock, which has hovered around €16 since the start of the year.

Despite cancelling hundreds of flights last October to deal with rota changes, profits rose 10 per cent to 1.2billion in the year to March 31, with revenue up 8 per cent to 6billion.

Horse racing fanatic O'Leary, who was paid 2.8million last year, lives in County Westmeath with his wife, Anita Farrell, and their four children.

OUR COMMENT: As Ryanair is the main airline using Stansted Airport such news must raise some questions about the future economy of the airport itself.

Pat Dale


Adsadvance on line - 21 May 2018

London Stansted Airport representatives, business leaders and local politicians have met to begin talks on creating a new partnership between the region and China to help secure a direct Chinese air link and foster new trade and investment opportunities in the East of England. Present were: Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council; John Keddie, Chairman Harlow Enterprise Zone; Ken O'Toole, CEO London Stansted Airport; Rhys Whalley, Executive Director Manchester-China Forum.

The East of England-China Forum will be membership-based and open to all companies and organisations wanting to strengthen ties between the region and China. Those wanting to join the Forum's networking database and to receive news and event details are being encouraged to send their name and company information to eastchinaforum@stanstedairport.com

Last year, China accounted for 30 per cent of all global economic growth and the country's sustained expansion has created a surge in UK bound tourism and investment as well as increased demand for British education, research capabilities, goods and services. In 2016, the combined value of imports and exports between the East of England and China was valued at 4.3 billion.

At the inaugural meeting of the Forum, representatives from East of England and London businesses, business groups, County Councils, East of England Local Government Association, tourism agencies and universities agreed to build on their relationships in China but also provide a focus for organisations looking to increase their connectivity with China, and to encourage more businesses to explore opportunities in China. The Forum will also leverage local and national assets in order to develop these areas.

Ken O'Toole, Chief Executive, London Stansted Airport said: "As China becomes an increasingly important force in twenty-first century global trade, it is of paramount importance that the East of England, plus north and east London, has in place a clear strategy that allows it to nurture long-term economic ties with the country. In the next few years China is expected to overtake the USA to become the biggest aviation market in the world and together with a relaxation of visa and flight restrictions for Chinese visitors, now is the time for the region to come together to secure new direct links between our region and China."

"We know there is significant demand for Chinese destinations and are confident we can secure new links over the next years but it is crucial we build a strong coalition of businesses, universities, tourism agencies and local Government to demonstrate the size of the opportunity to airlines."

Cllr Kevin Bentley, East of England Local Government Association and Deputy Leader of Essex County Council said: "A new direct air link to China from Stansted will significantly boost the Essex and regional economies and we are delighted to be contributing the resources of Essex County Council's specialist China business advisory team at Essex International to help in the creation of the East of England-China Business Forum."

Scott Goodfellow, Director of Tiptree-based Wilkin and Sons said: "Wilkin and Sons flies the flag for Britain around the world, with a significant and growing market in China attracted by our unique and quintessentially British products. Securing a direct link to China from Stansted, our local airport, would support our export ambitions, encourage local tourism, and save valuable time commuting around the M25."

Claire Ruskin, Chief Executive of the Cambridge Network said: "Nearly 5% of the population in Cambridge is Chinese and we have considerable activity between businesses and institutions in this region and across China already. Direct links from Stansted will encourage even more productive relationships."

A similar coalition has already proved successful in Manchester, where a partnership between Manchester Airport, local Government, tourism agencies, universities and the business community helped to secure direct links to both Hong Kong and Beijing in 2014 and 2016 respectively. The Beijing route alone helped exports from the north of England to China increase by 260 per cent to 200 million per month while Chinese visitors to the north increased by more than 50 per cent.

London Stansted Airport is the third largest in London - and fourth largest in the UK - serving over 26 million passengers a year. With a strong position for short-haul travel across Europe, with over 190 destinations across 38 countries, Stansted serves more scheduled connections to Europe than any other airport in the world (apart from Munich) with capacity to serve up to 43 million passengers a year.

"Officers are aware of concerns expressed about what the ultimate capacity of the airport might be, and the extent to which this is a material planning consideration will be dealt with in the officers? report."

MAG, which runs Stansted, declined to comment.

OUR COMMENT: If MAG is serious, then they had better withdraw their present application and decide what they would really need to accommodate a significant number of extra flights and passengers. They cannot pretend that even more additional passengers will not need additional flights!

Pat Dale


Standard Online - 12 May 2018

Ken O'Toole is the chief executive of London Stansted Airport.

What's your role?
Stansted is the UK's fourth-biggest airport, with 26 million passengers through its doors every year. As chief executive, I take overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the airport and for its future development.

At present, 12,000 people work at Stansted but we expect that will grow to 18,000 as we look to expand the airport over the next 10 years. London's other airports are full, or operating at near-capacity, so it's really important for us to be able to get more traffic through. We have just submitted a planning application to lift the restrictions on passenger numbers, currently at 35 million a year. We think we can get that to 43 million a year.

What do you enjoy about it?
It's been fascinating since joining last September. Stansted is like a small town - we have thousands of people living, working and visiting each day, all serviced by our own shops, hotels, electricity grid, emergency services and religious leaders. We see a real cross-section of society coming through our doors. I'm also struck by how you will often see the full range of human emotions, from happiness at arrivals to sadness at departures.

Where did you work before?
Manchester Airport, and prior to that Ryanair - where I cut my teeth in the aviation world. As director of new-route development, there weren't many European airports I didn't visit. Before that, as head of revenue management, I ensured that fares were set at the right level to fill planes and make routes a success. Before I got into the aviation sector, I worked for Musgrave Group, the Irish wholesaler, where I dealt with small business owners daily. That was a real learning experience.

What was your biggest break?
I am a chartered accountant by training, and in 2005 there was the smallest ad possible in one of the profession's journals for a head of revenue management at Ryanair. I was interested in the Ryanair success story, and that's what got me into the aviation sector. I have been lucky to work for great leaders who I have learned so much from - at Ryanair: Howard Millar, Michael Cawley and, naturally, Michael O'Leary. Charlie Cornish, my boss at Manchester Airports Group, also taught me a lot.

And setback?
Given the responsibility I have day to day, I've been fortunate and grateful that anything that has happened has been manageable. When I first qualified as an accountant, I spent three years working at investment bank, Credit Suisse. It probably wasn't my greatest decision but I managed to move up and out of there.

How's your work-life balance?
Stansted is a 24/7 operation and I have five young children, so that can be challenging - particularly on those weeks when I may be travelling abroad. I probably spend 10% to 15% of my time travelling to China, India and the US. Modern technology, however, means I am always in close contact. I'm trying to do less travelling than I did before but it's necessary when you work in this sector. Outside of work, we're a sports-mad family and if I'm not watching the kids at training or playing matches, I'm a keen swimmer, runner, footballer and golfer.

Any tips for those just starting out?
Get to know your customers and what they actually want from you, rather than what you think they want.

OUR COMMENT: A graduate of the Ryanair School of Aviation! Now we know what to expect!

Pat Dale


Imogen Braddick - Dunmow Broadcast - 11 May 2018

The leader of the Uttlesford Liberal Democrat group says the district council has held 35 meetings with Stansted Airport management behind closed doors, pointing to a lack of transparency and democratic accountability. Councillor Alan Dean said the differences in transparency between the current application to increase passenger numbers at Stansted Airport and the previous application submitted in 2006 were marked.

Cllr Dean said: "The current application arrived at Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on Thursday, February 22, 2018. More than two months later, in early May, there has not been a single meeting in public. None is planned until July.

"In 2006 there were 16 meetings in public at which councillors and members of the public challenged the implications of a 65 per cent increase in passengers. This year there may be as few as two meetings only in public before a doubling of airport passengers capability is either approved or refused."

Cllr Dean also claimed that the public should be aware that the extra aircraft taxiways and stands at Stansted would make the airport capable of growing to the size of Gatwick at around 50 million passengers per annum, not the 43 million on the label of the application documents. He said: "So, for the past three weeks I have been seeking a meeting with planning officers to discuss my concerns about the seemingly fast-track, low profile way in which this high impact scheme is being progressed. I can report obfuscation and avoidance."

"Despite this lack of transparency and democratic accountability at UDC, time has been found to hold 35 meetings with airport management behind closed doors. These private meetings have been attended by senior council personnel. The impact on towns and villages within Uttlesford district, including Great Dunmow, Saffron Walden, Stansted Mountfitchet and Thaxted, would be significant."

A spokesman for UDC said: "Senior council officers have had regular meetings with staff from Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to discuss airport-related issues and some of these included private pre-application discussions. This is nothing out of the ordinary, and occurs with many developers. Unlike the 2006 application, this current proposal is subject to a planning performance agreement relating to timescales, actions and resources, and the timetable for determination has been set accordingly."


Imogen Braddick - Dunmow Broadcast - 8 May 2018

Stansted Airport bosses have welcomed more than 650 responses of support for the airport's expansion plans, but campaigners say the "spin doctors" did not point out that 615 of the responses were almost identical computer-generated e-mails.

As Uttlesford District Council (UDC) closed its public consultation on Manchester Airport Group's (MAG) planning application to increase passenger numbers at Stansted Airport, the airport's chief executive, Ken O'Toole, welcomed a "strong show of support" from local people and the political and business communities.

But Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said the responses were prompted by a letter from Mr O'Toole to all his employees and airport-based businesses urging them to "voice their support" for MAG's expansion proposals for Stansted by filling out a form which would automatically send a letter to the council. A spokesman for SSE said: "Its attempt to flood UDC with standard emails supporting its expansion plans may have spectacularly backfired because the computerised system which generated the emails failed to include the sender's postal address - a requirement which the council has always insisted upon. As a result, it is understood these automatic emails are to be treated as a petition, which will carry minimal weight."

SSE's deputy chairman, Brian Ross added: "Local people have outscored the airport's computer 'voting' system with more than 700 objections to MAG's plans - all individually written. Aircraft noise, especially at night, is the biggest concern - followed by road traffic, with many respondents saying that local roads already can't cope."

Key businesses and organisations in the region which have expressed support for the plans include the University of Cambridge and Harlow Enterprise Zone.

Mr O'Toole said: "I've been delighted at the scale and breadth of the backing our plans have received. The airport is clearly recognised as a major asset and gateway to the East of England, London and the wider UK, and it is very encouraging to know we have developed such a broad coalition of support, particularly from those businesses and organisations that are also creating jobs and delivering growth in the local and regional economy."

The airport has put forward a package of commitments as part of its planning application, which they say includes no increase to the existing aircraft movement limit and noise footprint, a new sound insulation grant scheme offering grants of up to 10,000 for those residents affected by aircraft noise and additional funding to support improvements to local road network, including Junction 8 on the M11.

Last Monday, SSE sent UDC a 175-page response setting out grounds for refusing the application.


Hertfordshire Mercury Online - news/hertford - 18 April 2018

Uttlesford Liberal Democrats say that Stansted Airport is seeking to 'ambush local communities and residents' with its plans to become the UK's second biggest airport. Today (Tuesday, April 17) the party raised concerns after claiming that the submitted planning application is "unravelling under the pressure of public scrutiny".

Despite London Stansted holding community consultations, the Lib Dems say the airport is failing to be 'open' with local residents. Councillor Martin Foley said public opinion is not being taken into account, nor is there enough consideration in regards to the additional traffic following the expansion, branding plans too "simplistic".

He said:"Stansted Airport is not being open and transparent in their application to expand its capacity to 43+ million passengers per annum -(MPPA). "Firstly, they have buried their demand for the removal of current restrictions on night flights at Stansted in an appendix to their main application. Secondly, they are ignoring local public opinion as they have failed to adequately promote recent public consultation events on their application. Indeed, they failed to hold one in Stansted Mountfitchet, which is the nearest large settlement to the airport. Thirdly, their assessment of the impact of the additional traffic generated by the expansion is simplistic and rudimentary."

Similarly, Melvin Caton of Stansted Liberal Democrats said Stansted Airport is "determined to ride roughshod over local community opinion". He said: "I do hope that they don't think they can take Uttlesford District Council and local communities for a ride. We won't be a soft touch. The reasoning behind the application is highly dubious. They want to substitute the number of movements of small aircraft with large aircraft. It was clearly timed to pre-empt the content of the National Aviation Strategy due to be published in July, and pitched the expansion at 8.5MPPA to sneak below the 10MPPA threshold that requires central government to make the decision."

However, while Stansted Airport could see an increase in passenger numbers by eight million per year chiefs insist that they will reduce noise impact. The airport is not allowed to take more than 35 million passengers over 12 months, but the proposal would increase the cap to 43 million - a rise of 22 per cent.

CEO Ken O'Toole said the plans do not propose an increase in the number of flights. Similarly, the airport would like to clarify that there is no demand to remove current restriction on night flights within the application. A spokesman for London Stansted said: "Stansted Airport consulted extensively with our local community over the last 12 months to help develop our planning application to increase the number of passengers we serve without increasing the number of flights we are permitted to operate and remaining within our noise limit approvals."

"We're committed to maximising the social and economic benefits of growth in the most sustainable and efficient way possible for local residents, passengers, businesses and airline partners. The proposals outlined in our planning application will deliver 5,000 on-airport jobs and thousands more in the wider region, a doubling of the economic value-add created and millions more tourists using Stansted as their arrival point into the UK."

"We have met all our obligations on our legal and planning requirements to deliver this application and it is now for UDC to consider the views of all those with an interest in the proposal and determine it on its merits and within the required timescales."


Sarah Chambers - EADT Online - 17 April 2018

The owners of Stansted Airport have stressed that they are not seeking any change to current night flight limits at the site, after campaigners claimed they were trying to overturn the current legal conditions.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) claims the airport wants to change conditions which have prevented it from lobbying government for more night flights. But the group said the plans were "buried" within its planning application to expand its annual throughput of passengers to up to 43m.

It claimed it was "a clandestine attempt to betray the community", as it raised concerns about sleep disturbance and adverse health impacts caused by night flights.

"For years SSE has been calling for tougher controls to bear down on the impacts night flights have on sleep disturbance and the quality of life and wellbeing of people across the region," said SSE noise adviser Martin Peachey. "Stansted is already allowed more than twice as many night flights as Heathrow, and night flights are set to be completely banned at Heathrow within the next 10 years as a condition of expansion."

But an airport spokesman said: "We recognise that night flights are a sensitive issue for local residents and our application does not seek any change to the current night flight limits at Stansted. These flights are regulated separately by central government with the current controls applying until 2022. Night flights are a small but important part of our operation with both passenger airlines and cargo operators attaching a high value to the ability to operate at night. Stansted has grown in a measured and environmentally sustainable way and the introduction of the latest generation of quieter, more efficient aircraft will ensure that we continue to minimise aircraft noise."

Campaigners are also concerned that the long haul and freight aircraft which airport owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is hoping to attract to Stansted are "typically larger and noisier than most aircraft types currently based there". and that they would also exacerbate problems with noise disturbance suffered. "If MAG succeeded in having the present restrictions on night flights relaxed, the floodgates could rapidly open to a noise nightmare," they claimed.


Kirdtie Pickering - Passenger Terminals Today News Online - 22 March 2018

London Stansted Airport's owner Manchester Airport Group (MAG) has appointed architects Pascall+Watson after choosing its design concept for a new 130m (US$182m) arrival terminal.

The new terminal will span 34,000m2 (365,972ft2) and relocate all arrivals functions to a separate state-of-the art facility. The design complements the architecture of the existing building, which will be reconfigured into a departures-only terminal. This will include the expansion of the check-in, security and retail areas, a new airside coaching facility, aircraft stands, taxiway infrastructure and car parking facilities.

The new arrivals terminal will have an enhanced immigration and baggage reclaim area, a spacious arrivals concourse and a public forecourt.

Paul Willis, program delivery director for the Stansted Transformation Programme, said, "Pascall+Watson have already played a key role in the Stansted Transformation Programme, so we're delighted to announce they have been appointed to develop the design for phases two and three. Over the next five years, we're investing 600m (US$844m) at Stansted, which will see the biggest upgrade in passenger facilities at the airport since the iconic Sir Norman Foster terminal opened in 1991. This investment will transform the experience for millions of passengers and help unlock Stansted's spare runway capacity, providing passengers with a wider choice of airlines and destinations."

OUR COMMENT: No wonder that more passengers are needed! Are the new facilities really needed?

Pat Dale


Theconstructionindex Online - 13 March 2018

The planned second phase of Stansted Airport's transformation programme involves construction of a new Arrivals building to sit alongside the existing terminal building, in keeping with the Norman Foster design. The current terminal will be reconfigured to form a Departures only facility. Landside and airside civil engineering works are also required.

The airport plans to let the new Arrivals and reconfigured Departures buildings as separate lots. The Arrivals lot is estimated at 120m to 150m in value. For this lot, the anticipated call for competition, to be through the Achilles UVDB System, is expected in the second quarter of 2018.

The Departures lot is approximately 180m to 230m in value. The anticipated call for competition is an OJEU process with contract notice expected in Q4 2018.

The 34,000m2 Arrivals facility, designed by architect Pascall & Watson, secured planning permission in April 2017. The supplier engagement day on 13th April 2018 will provide an overview of the schemes and an opportunity to ask questions. If you would like to attend, email DD-STP_Procurement@stanstedairport.com by 26th March.


Yves Herman - Reuters - 7 March 2018

RyanAir is threatening to ground planes after Britain leaves the EU to persuade voters to "rethink" Brexit. Chief Executive Michael O'Leary wants Britons to realize "they are no longer going to have cheap holidays".

"I think it's in our interests - not for a long period of time - that the aircraft are grounded. It's only when you get to that stage when you're going to persuade the average British voter that you were lied to in the entire Brexit debate," O'Leary - a vocal Remainer - told an audience of airline leaders in Brussels.

"You were promised you could leave the EU and everything would stay the same. The reality is you can leave the EU. Yes, that's your choice. But everything will fundamentally change," he said, according to the Press Association.

The Dublin-based carrier's boss warned there would be a "real crisis" as flights between the UK and the EU are disrupted after Brexit. "When you begin to realize that you're no longer going to have cheap holidays in Portugal or Spain or Italy, you've got to drive to Scotland or get a ferry to Ireland as your only holiday options, maybe we'll begin to rethink the whole Brexit debate."

Carsten Spohr, the boss of German carrier Lufthansa, who was on stage alongside O'Leary, backed the threat. "In theory, if we could use this industry to prove to the British how wrong the decision was, that might be a good thing," he said.

The single market for aviation, created in the 1990s, means there are no commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU.

O'Leary has repeatedly warned that airlines will be forced to cancel post-Brexit services from March 2019 if no agreement is reached in the Brexit negotiations by September, because schedules are planned about six months in advance.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in January that he is confident flights will not be grounded because "it's in the interests of everyone" to maintain the open market for aviation.


Aef Online - 7 March 2018

In the final few weeks of the Transport Committee's scrutiny of the Government's proposals for Heathrow expansion, Transport Minister Chris Grayling has written to the committee admitting that the air quality cost of expansion that was presented alongside the draft National Policy Statement (NPS), failed to include any costs beyond a 2km radius of the airport. Their own analysis had elsewhere assessed the impact of additional vehicle emissions well beyond this boundary.

The ongoing air quality barrier to Heathrow expansion
The issue of air quality has long been a sticking point when it comes to Heathrow expansion. Modelling conducted when a third runway was last on the table over a decade ago claimed that by now London would be compliant with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide. But even without an additional runway, the hoped-for improvements turned out to be over-optimistic and London remains in breach of the limits.

A series of successful legal actions against the Government for failing to get to grips with the issue and a focus by the London Mayor on the need for new measures in the capital have recently pushed the issue up the political agenda just as the Heathrow vote begins to loom. Several local authorities close to the airport, together with Greenpeace, have committed to legally challenge the NPS, if adopted in its current form by a Parliamentary vote scheduled for the second quarter of this year. The challenge is likely to centre around air quality, as well as the 'legitimate expectation' of communities who believed previous government commitments that expansion was off the agenda.

Legal limits and air quality costs
The Government has assessed the air quality impact of a third runway in two ways. The first considers what impact the scheme would have on compliance with legal limit values. The latest official position on this, repeated in Grayling's letter, is that "expansion would be capable of being delivered without impacting the UK's compliance with air quality limit values". As we've previously argued there are seven air-quality-reasons not to expand Heathro. However, it's hard to feel confident in this scenario, given how many questionable assumptions the conclusion rests on, so it's no surprise that the NPS does not require air quality limit values to be met as a precondition for Heathrow expansion, and that no air quality enforcement plan has been proposed.

The second approach to assessment monetises the damage to human health of the additional air pollution associated with expansion for inclusion in the cost benefit analysis of the scheme. The Transport Committee has taken a particular interest in whether the right numbers have been entered into this analysis and has identified that the air quality cost calculation only covered emissions within a 2km radius of the airport in contrast to the Government's impact appraisal that had noted impacts well beyond this boundary in terms of additional vehicle traffic.

Emissions omission
Acknowledging this "unintended omission", Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's letter to the Transport Committee, provides new information on the likely cost of emissions beyond a 2km radius of Heathrow airport, with the total figure now thought to be 2 to 4 times higher than the one published in the official appraisal document. The cost associated with Gatwick expansion was also underestimated, the letter notes.

The Government is keen to argue that even the revised figure pales in comparison with the supposed benefit of the scheme, but closer inspection of this claim using other official metrics tells a very different story. The 'net present value' of the scheme, previously assessed as 2.2 to 3.3 billion over sixty years (so already potentially negative) could drop to as low as 2.6 to 2.9 billion under the new estimate.

Are we underestimating airports' air quality impact?
Meanwhile, some academics have questioned whether traditional approaches to estimating airport emissions underestimate the emissions from aircraft themselves. While most studies on airport air pollution have focussed on sites close to the airport, a 2014 paper considering the air pollution impact of Los Angeles Airport found a twofold increase in particulate pollution as a result of the airport's operation within a 60km2 radius.

It concluded that "the air quality impact areas of major airports may have been seriously underestimated" - a finding as relevant to any other major UK airport as to Heathrow, and casting doubt on the relevance of the 2km radius used in the Government's NPS assessment.

Are MPs in a good position for a summer vote on Heathrow?
Commenting on the publication of Chris Grayling's letter, AEF's Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said: "Yet again, the Government's evidence on the impact of Heathrow expansion on the environment and public health has been found to be lacking. With no climate change policy for aviation, poor information on noise impacts, and unreliable information on air quality, we're urging MPs to vote against a bigger Heathrow."


Imogen Braddick - Dunmow Broadcast - 7 March 2018

Stansted Airport has applied to increase the current cap on annual passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million passengers a year in what campaigners say is a 'sweetheart' deal with local planning authorities to avoid government scrutiny.

The application to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) seeks permission to increase the use of its single runway over the next 10 years, which could lead to 5,000 new on-site jobs and boost the offering of long haul destinations.

Ken O'Toole, chief executive of London Stansted Airport, said: "Over the past six months we have consulted widely on our future growth plans and based on the feedback from these discussions, we've made sure our growth can be achieved within current limits on flight numbers and with no increase in the size of the airport's noise footprint. This is good news for local residents."

However, the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group said the application was misleading in claiming that further expansion of the airport would have no significant environmental impacts and said it was "profoundly concerned at the lengths Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is prepared to go to to avoid scrutiny by Secretary of State by amending passenger numbers".

Chairman of SSE, Peter Sanders, said: "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that a 44 percent increase in the number of flights and a 66 percent increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads."

SSE said that by increasing the number of passengers by eight million, and not 10, MAG could have the plan considered by the district council, and not by the Secretary of State which, it argued, would be more rigorous.

SSE said it understands that in return for local planning approval from the district council, MAG would be prepared to make financial contributions to help fund local road schemes and other local projects in the delivery of the local plan.

Mr Sanders added: "We need to have confidence that this planning application will be considered purely on its own merits and subject to fair and thorough scrutiny. That is why it should be determined nationally by the secretary of state, not locally by UDC."

The application will also seek permission for additional airfield infrastructure within the current airfield boundary, comprising two new links to the runway, six additional stands on the mid airfield and three additional stands at the north eastern end of the airport.


Salford Star Online - 6 March 2018


Salford City Council is to borrow money to 'invest' in the 1.5billion 'transformation' of Manchester Airport and Stansted Airport in which it has shares along with other Greater Manchester councils. In papers relating to the loan, which is set to be rubber stamped next week by the Cabinet, no figure is mentioned. But the cash-strapped Council, currently looking to close five nurseries, has already set aside 10million in its budget for 'Manchester Airport'.

Both airports are now owned by the Manchester Airport Group (MAG), which is looking for a 1.5billion investment from its shareholders to "secure future business plan growth and the longer term sustainability of the business".

Salford is one of ten Greater Manchester local councils that have a share in MAG. Manchester City Council owns 35.5% of the company and the other nine councils own 29%, with Salford Council's share being 3.22%. The remaining 35.5% is owned by the private Codan Trust Company (Cayman) Ltd (as trustee for IFM), registered offshore in the Cayman Islands.

The report going to Salford's Cabinet next week states that "there is an opportunity for the Greater Manchester districts to provide shareholder loans" and that "the most cost effective means of securing finance for the loan will be identified".

Nowhere in the report is the actual amount of the loan specified, although the Council does have a figure of 10million set aside for 'Manchester Airport' in its capital budget for the new financial year 2018-19.

Given that the source of the loan has not yet been 'identified' it's not known how much it will cost to service it from the Council's revenue account which supports front line services, like the five nurseries the Council is currently proposing to close.

The report states that, in future years, the Council will get a "direct return on the loan", and that it "should enable future anticipated dividends to be paid". It adds that "Without the capital investment there is a very real risk that the level of dividend payable, which supports the council's budget, will reduce considerably in future years. This would lead to increased revenue budget pressures which would increase future savings targets".

The investment by Greater Manchester councils would be part of a 1.5billion 'transformation' that represents 'the most significant programme of investment ever made in Manchester Airport'. This would include an expansion of Terminal 2, improvements to Terminal 3, links between the two terminals, better departure gate facilities and 'customer friendly enhancements'. Stansted Airport would get a new arrivals building. The investment, states the report, would "promote economic growth and employment opportunities".

The report concludes that "Any investment decision has to be underpinned by a thorough assessment of the risks involved and a robust due diligence process" and adds that "From the analysis and work carried out, on behalf of the GM authorities, this is deemed to be a reasonable investment".

It adds that "The risks of the potential stakeholder loan have been reviewed on behalf of the GM authorities" - but nowhere does it state what these risks actually are...

The decision will be made by the Cabinet next Tuesday - the same day that the City Mayor is due to be jetting off to the South of France to speak at the MIPIM property orgy event in Cannes.

OUR COMMENT: Fellow Councils but no effective consultation with Uttlesford! And, offshore money? Where from?

Pat Dale


Essex News Online - 22 February 2018

Stansted's looking for permission to handle eight million more passengers a year. It says raising its cap to 43 million would create around 5000 extra jobs at the airport. Its Chief Executive has said he's confident a planning application submitted today will be approved.

The airport says the introduction of the next generation of new quieter aircraft will ensure that future passenger growth can be achieved without increasing the number of flights or noise footprint already permitted.

Ken O'Toole, CEO of London Stansted Airport, said: "Today, London Stansted Airport is virtually unrecognisable from the one which MAG acquired almost five years ago to the day. During this time, we have spent 150m on upgrading the terminal, added nearly 10 million passengers, more than doubled the number of airlines and developed a short-haul route network which is the best in Europe."

"Looking to the future, demand at Stansted is predicted to remain strong and with constraints on runway capacity in the South-East increasing, we are expecting to reach our current limit on passenger numbers in the early 2020s. We are now at the point where it is right to consider the framework for the airport?s growth beyond the current limit."

But Stop Stansted Expansion has described the latest Stansted Airport expansion proposals as an attempt to manipulate the planning process so as to avoid Government scrutiny and instead do a "sweetheart" deal with the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC). SSE has also branded the airport planning application as misleading in claiming that further expansion of the airport would give rise to no significant adverse environmental impacts.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: "It doesn't need a rocket scientist to work out that a 44% increase in the number of flights and a 66% increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads. By suggesting otherwise, Stansted Airport and its owners Manchester Airport Group (MAG) are treating the local community as if we were all complete fools."


Raising the number of passengers would create 5,000 new jobs
and contribute 1 billion to the local economy

Narbeh Minassian & Anna Sava - Cambridge News Online - 22 February 2018

Stansted Airport chiefs have submitted plans to increase passenger numbers by eight million a year - and insist they will reduce the noise impact.

Currently the airport is not licensed to take more than 35 million passengers over 12 months, but if approved the proposal would increase the cap from 35 to 43 million - a huge rise of 22 per cent. Since 2013, passenger numbers have grown by 40 per cent. Stansted now serves the largest network of European destinations in the country. The plans come as the airport was given permission last year for a new 130 million arrivals building.

Speaking to the Hertfordshire Mercury's Narbeth Minassian, CEO Ken O'Toole said the plans for an increase in passenger numbers will not necessarily mean an increase in the number of flights, adding that the proposal has also been welcomed by businesses.

"We have undertaken six to nine months of extensive consultation with the local community and businesses in the area and we have found there is a broad groundswell of support to our approach. The consultation was clear that people want to grow the airport but within the limits that already exist and we have been conscious of that."

The plans, submitted to Uttlesford District Council, state the ongoing introduction of quieter aircraft means passenger growth can be achieved without increasing flights or noise. The new Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320 Neo aircraft, for example, are currently being brought into service by Ryanair and easyJet and are up to 50 per cent quieter than the aircraft they are replacing.

Mr O'Toole said the increase in passengers would create 5,000 jobs and contribute 1 billion to the local economy. Most jobs would be for local people. He said: "There will be new routes and new jobs. Already 75 per cent of the existing 12,000 jobs are taken by people living in the area so these are local jobs and they are jobs right across the spectrum. We have engaged extensively already with the businesses and we want to make East Anglia one of the best places to live. This will be an enabler."

The airport currently serves nearly 26 million passengers a year after increasing its cap to 35 million in 2008. Increasing that to up to 43 million a year could add further strain on the M11 - the main road to the airport - which already struggles with congestion.

However, Mr O'Toole assured the airport will contribute towards any impact. "Half of our passengers arrive by public transport and we have looked at capacity on the trains and there will be more buses," he said. "We have had a full environmental assessment and believe the impact on roads is reasonable. The traffic will be spread throughout 24 hours."

The Plans
The proposal would see two new taxiway links on the runway for quick access and exit, six additional remote aircraft stands and three aircraft stands. The cap on aircraft movements of 274,000 will remain. In 2028, with the development, there will be around 712 daily aircraft movements in the summer peaks - compared to 640 daily movements without the development. These extra 72 daily movements are made up of 36 departures and 36 arrivals.

The additional movements will operate across a range of departures routes. For the most intensively used flight path, it would mean a maximum of 25 extra departures between 7am and 11pm, working out to one or two per hour in the summer peak.

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion [SSE] accused the airport of taking the local community for "complete fools". SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: "It doesn't need a rocket scientist to work out that a 44 per cent increase in the number of flights [when comparing the limit to last year's number] and a 66 per cent increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads. By suggesting otherwise, Stansted Airport and its owners Manchester Airport Group are treating the local community as if we were all complete fools."

Stansted Airport's rapid growth
Annual passenger numbers have increased by nearly 10 million to 26 million a year in the past five years. This growth is down to a 25 per cent increase in destinations served by the airport (190) and a doubling of the number of airlines using the airport (22). Stansted (it is claimed) is the best-connected UK airport for flights to Europe and will expand its long-haul route network with services being added to New York, Boston, Toronto, Washington DC and Dubai.

Owners Manchester Airport Group has also invested 150 million in the facilities at Stansted Airport. Recently, work began on the second phase of Stansted's transformation - a five-year, 600 million construction programme that will see a new arrivals building and conversion of the existing terminal into a dedicated departing passenger-only facility.

RudySmith - Get rid of Ryanair

Totalastronomy - I wish they would invest in a better passenger experience for older customers. We don't like: the awful train station with its long walks; the lack of seating while waiting for the Gate to be shown; having to walk half a mile from the serpentine shopping mall to the most distant Gate; having to stand in a queue for half an hour at the Gate; being forced to queue on stairs; having to go down 25 stairs to the apron; walking across the apron in wind and pouring rain; having to clamber up rickety steps in wind and rain while holding a carry on bag. I've solved the problem by using Heathrow and Gatwick. From Cambridge there will be direct trains to Gatwick every 30 minutes from May.

Jamjar10 - Sort the parking first.

Azicit - We don't use Stansted any more, following issues with their special assistance staff on more than one occasion, so that is two less they will have to bother about. The "service" is abysmal and they are not interested in doing anything about it. We flew from Luton last month and the service there was excellent.

OUR COMMENT: Details are on the Uttlesford Council's website including MAG's Environmental Assessment in which will be found the forecasts and calculations they use to justify their claims that there will be no adverse effects affecting the local community even though there will be more traffic and more planes!

Pat Dale


Brian Ross - Bishops Stortford Independent - 24 January 2018

Stop Stansted Expansion economics adviser BRIAN ROSS, a member of the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee, wants a New Year's Resolution from the airport to give more consideration to the local community and the environment.

In his New Year blog in last week's Bishop's Stortford Independent, Stansted Airport commercial director Martin Jones waxed lyrical about the 'exciting' achievements of his airport in 2017, in terms of new destinations, new airlines, more car parking spaces and bigger bars and restaurants.

But in his entire article of more than 600 words, not once did he mention the words 'community' or 'environment' or 'local residents'. Not once did he mention Stansted's impact upon local residents. And not once did he even acknowledge that Stansted has some serious environmental impacts.

So let's have a look at some of the things which Martin Jones did not mention.

Noise impacts
In the five years that Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has owned Stansted, noise complaints from local residents have increased from 930 in 2013 to an astonishing total of 8,411 in 2017. Part of the reason is a large increase in night flights - often old noisy cargo aircraft - to a record 12,339 last year.

The main problem, however, has been changes to flight paths. When local residents were consulted about the changes, 82% said 'No' but the changes were made anyway. So much for listening to the views of the local community.

As the number of flights increases, so also do aircraft emissions, which have an impact both locally and globally. During MAG's five years at Stansted, there has been a 30% increase in the number of flights and a similar increase in emissions of pollutants, including oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which are harmful to human health as well as to local flora and fauna.

Stansted's carbon dioxide (C02) emissions, the main cause of global warming, have also increased substantially in the past five years.

Stansted was responsible for the equivalent of 3.7 million tonnes of C02 emissions in 2017. This is set to grow to 3.9 million tonnes in 2018 - about the same amount of C02 produced annually by 1.4 million average family cars.

Social Responslblllty
Airports have a legal duty to compensate anyone whose house has been significantly devalued as a direct result of the airport's expansion. For more than 15 years Stansted has shirked this responsibility. Only recently under threat of legal proceedings, are there signs that the airport might finally begin to honour its obligations.

Compensation has only ever been provided for the airport's expansion to 8 million passengers per annum (mppa). Last year Stansted handled 25.9mppa and it will very soon submit a planning application asking for permission to grow to 43mppa.

MAG needs to be told very clearly: You must settle your outstanding obligations to local residents before any consideration will be given to allowing you any further expansion.

Support for local good causes
All the UK's major airports make annual financial contributions to local good causes, generally through a trust fund. In 2016, Stansted was by far the least generous of all the major UK airports, contributing just 100,000 (0.4 pence per passenger). By comparison, Heathrow provided 952,000 (1.3p per passenger), Gatwick 503,000 (1.2p per passenger) and lowly Luton 126,000 (0.9p per passenger).

And guess what happened in 2017? Shamefully MAG actually reduced Stansted's annual contribution to local good causes from 100,000 to 50,000, equivalent to just one-fifth of a penny per passenger; This speaks volumes about MAG's sense of social responsibility. By contrast, last year MAG increased the dividend it paid to its shareholders from 116m to 14lm. At least we know where MAG's priorities lie.


Four London councils say ministers have 'already made their minds up'

Chiswickw4.com - 29 December 2017

The London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have questioned the lawfulness of the Government's consultation on the expansion of Heathrow Airport. In their submission to the Department of Transport (submitted on 19th December 2017), they write that: "A consultation, to be lawful, must be approached with an open mind", before citing several instances where ministers at the Department for Transport have indicated that their "mind is prematurely but firmly made up".

These include a statement by then Aviation Minister, Lord Callanan, on 13 July 2017, in which it was stated that the work to analyse the responses was progressing and that the Government is "fully committed to realising the benefits that a new Northwest runway at Heathrow would bring."

And an appearance on Newsnight, on 17 July 2017, by Chris Grayling, in which the Secretary of State for Transport claimed that, provided Parliament agreed, Heathrow would "definitely be going ahead".

In their response to what the DfT have called the Consultation on the Revised National Policy Statement, the four boroughs also question whether the Government has yet taken into account the responses to the earlier consultation, to which they had responded in May 2017. The four Boroughs believe that, had the approach been genuinely open minded, and the evidence considered, then expansion at Heathrow would already have been rejected not only on the grounds of air pollution and excessive noise which are obvious and overwhelming reasons against a 3rd runway at Heathrow, but also because new evidence, presented in the revised consultation, that suggests Heathrow:

* Fails to deliver any economic advantage over Gatwick
* Would need Government subsidy of essential transport access and/or subsidised flights
* Will not (contrary to Government assurances) operate with less noise than Heathrow does today

"Indeed, not only does the Government's own Revised National Policy Statement suggest that Gatwick is likely to provide greater economic benefit to the UK over a sixty-year period; but it has downgraded the "Net Present Value" of the Heathrow scheme (a measurement of benefits that also takes costs into consideration) at no more than 3.3 Billion over sixty years with it and, quite possibly, leading to an overall loss of 2.2 Billion to the UK economy.

"Our last consultation response pointed out that there was no evidence that an expanded Heathrow would do anything other than exceed lawful and dangerous limits for air pollution and now we have the new Air Quality Plan, it is clear that the draft Airports NPS is inconsistent with Government obligations on achieving and maintaining air quality in London and the surrounding area, including the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead."

Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, of which the four boroughs are part, said: "There's a growing sense that the case for Heathrow's third runway is falling apart. The evidence, including the government's own, simply no longer stacks up to support it. The only thing they seem to have on their side is the DfT, whose prejudgement in advance of its own consultation, is now raising serious legal questions in the year ahead."


As Ryanair deals with the fallout from its rostering crisis and a U-turn on union recognition, Brexit looms large for airlines, writes John Mulligan

Irish Independent - 28 December 2017

Europe's aviation market witnessed enormous upheaval in 2017. Ryanair was arguably centre-stage, first with its September admission that it had mismanaged its pilot rosters. That resulted in the carrier cancelling thousands of flights and grounding aircraft into 2018 as it sought to fix the problem.

But it also unleashed a push for what eventually be a dramatic change at the 32-year-old airline, with its landmark decision this month to recognise unions. It was a major U-turn from the entrenched position that Ryanair and CEO Michael O'Leary had clung onto for decades: that union recognition would never happen at the airline.

In September, the threats to its 4,200 pilots began as it became evident they were agitating for change. "I don't even know how there would be industrial action in Ryanair," Mr O'Leary said that month following the airline's annual general meeting at its Dublin headquarters. "There isn't a union in Ryanair. There has been no demand for new contracts."

He added that any pilots who engage in industrial action such could "kiss goodbye" to pay increases. He insisted it wasn't a threat.

"We'd never threaten our pilots," he said. "We have some goodies to discuss with pilots, but if pilots misbehave, that will be the end of discussion on goodies. I don't think that would be construed as a threat."

But as its pilots became increasingly organised, it was apparent there was a real desire among large numbers of them for change. The rostering failure wasn't the result of just some administrative challenge - it unmasked a significant problem Ryanair had with retaining pilots. As Ryanair intensified efforts to keep a lid on the fallout, it also canned efforts to acquire part of the failed Italian flag carrier Alitalia.

Meanwhile, the pilots methodically plotted their strategy, creating Ryanair company councils under the auspices of unions around Europe, ensuring that any industrial action they might take was legally watertight. The acrimony from the Ryanair side intensified, as a newly-formed pilot group sought to engage with the airline.

Former Ryanair executive, Peter Bellew, who had been working as CEO of Malaysia Airlines, returned to the Dublin-based carrier as chief operations officer. He was tasked with sorting out the pilot rostering mess and getting things generally back on track. In December, the Irish Independent revealed Mr Bellew's own damning take on how the Ryanair culture had broken.

Speaking to Ryanair pilots at London Stansted, its biggest base, the day before the airline announced it would recognise unions, he said the tone at the carrier had become "miserable", even at head office. He described a litany of administrative failures at the company, which he said had contributed to the rock-bottom morale and the September rostering crisis that prompted a demand from pilots for collective bargaining rights and better working conditions.

"It seems that there was a culture that people who knew there was a problem... that they were not listened to, or they were actively discouraged from even raising the issue any further," he said. "Basic, basic, basic things that had been operated here for many years just were thrown in the basement."

The culture was one where pilots could not even get answers in many cases to simple requests, he admitted. "Everywhere I turned, I could see that people were asking for small things to be done and they just weren't getting done," added Mr Bellew. "Or, not only were they not getting done, they were getting told: 'P**s off, leave me alone; I don't want to know about this'."

He acknowledged that retaining pilots was his key priority for now. In an interview with Reuters just two days after the Irish Independent revealed those comments, Mr O'Leary insisted the idea to recognise unions had been his.

Staff Ryanair pilots in Dublin who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association had announced they would strike for 24 hours on December 20. Pilots in Portugal and Germany were set to follow suit. In Italy, a strike was also planned. Then on December 15, Ryanair announced that it would recognise unions. The first talks have been held between Ryanair management and unions in what is going to be a turbulent flight path.

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus, now part of the IAG group that owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, continued its transatlantic expansion. It added new long-haul A330s, and opened or announced routes to Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle.

And with Brexit now just over a year away, just how the UK will fit into the EU's open skies is a huge question that remains unresolved. Without a deal being sealed, it's possible in a worst-case scenario that there could be no flights operating between the EU and the UK for a period of weeks after Brexit happens. It would have a calamitous impact on passengers and airlines.


Air traffic controllers have one of the most high pressure jobs in the world, but for those at Stansted Airport at least they also have one hell of a view

will.lodge@archant.co.uk - 27 December 2017

The tallest office building in Essex (and before Heathrow's new air traffic control tower was built, the tallest such tower in the UK) offers a spectacular 360-degree look at the surrounding countryside - as well as of Canary Wharf, the Shard and the Wembley arch.

On a clear day, with binoculars and if you know where to look, you can even see the Luton Airport control tower. Unlike many office windows, the controllers at the top of the 63-metre high building are paid to look out of them, as well as monitoring a bank of screens in front of them. "You never get bored of the view," admits Martin Ruddy, tower manager.

While the idea of all-digital control towers comes ever-closer to reality, the windows are a big factor at Stansted. The controllers do look out of them, and every desk is also equipped with a pair of binoculars. Though the controllers can - and do, for example when it is foggy - rely solely on the computer screens in front of them, visual watch is still the preferred method.

There is no ambient noise in the tower, a strange sensation for a building so close to a runway, but it allows controllers to concentrate. And while planes approach the runway at around 150mph, it appears almost slow from the lofty view of the tower.

The windows are so integral that they are due to be replaced in Spring 2018, a feat for some hardy souls with a head for heights. While the work takes place the controllers will temporarily relocate to a small observation tower situated at the airport's fire station, which is already fully equipped and acts as an emergency stand-by in the event of fire or other evacuation from the main tower.

As you would expect with such a critical function, where safety is of the utmost priority, the tower has multiple back-ups - uninterrupted power supplies, generators and batteries guarantee power, while each desk and controller in the room can do the work of any other in case one should fail. If everything goes down, pen and paper is still an option - "the problem is most of us have forgotten how to write," jokes Dan Pryce, watch manager.

So just what do the air traffic controllers do at their desk? "We can handle every type of aircraft which each has a different performance. It's a ballet in the sky," says Martin. "Some people say we are the heart of the airport, but that's the passenger terminal. We are more like the brain - every decision starts here. It is all about sequencing."

But if the airspace is akin to a ballet, then the air traffic controllers are master choreographers. While technology is integral, there are so many variables only a human can bring it all together quickly and intuitively.

The team at Stansted are responsible for everything coming in and going out of the airport, for about three miles out. They also have to keep a tight rein on the ground vehicle movements as well, both planes taxiing and the numerous support vans and cars, and things such as the runway lights.

In any given shift there will be as standard two main controllers - one on air, one on ground - plus a supervisor, and a third assistant who monitors weather and other aspects, jumping into action if needed. A second team of air traffic controllers based at Swanwick, Hampshire, manages the congested airspace over the South East - the A-roads, junctions and slip-roads of the sky - while a third level of controllers look after the motorways.

It is a 24/7 operation. Even on Christmas Day, the Stansted team has around 30 flights to look after, plus any emergency diversions that may come its way. At peak times (early morning and evenings at Stansted) it deals with 50 movements an hour - virtually one plane taking off or landing every minute, with up to 30 pilots speaking to you at once. On a busy summer day there will be 635 movements.

Training is intensive. Would-be recruits must pass psychometric testing and spend around four years in training, first at college before progressing onto a centre where they use localised simulators before going live at a desk. Even then they spend 300 hours with a supervisor plugged in next to them before going solo.

Many do not make it through the initial training. While 3,300 apply for a slot at college, only 15 (0.5%) make it through. But while the training is crucial, the job is also intuitive. "There is pressure, but it goes with the territory," says Dan, from Sproughton. "It's not a job you can take home with you either. The academic requirements are not too onerous, you don't need a degree, but you do need that aptitude to judge speed, time and distance. You can be as educated as you like, but if you can shoot the gap at a roundabout you may be suited to this job. Every day is different, the weather, the aircraft, change. But if you stick to the rules it works," adds Martin.

Surprisingly you don't need a head for heights. "I have known one controller who suffered from vertigo," said Dan. "He had to hold the bannister going up and didn't go near the edge."

Stansted, as well as being a busy passenger airport with nearing 26 million people passing through each year, also has a growing cargo terminal and a private jet area. With such facilities, it has often played host to the President of the United States, and is the go-to airport for planes which have been hijacked or have other security concerns.

While POTUS adds to the excitement in the tower - having a Secret Service agent oversee your work has to be a thrill - other emergencies are few and far between and more mundane, mostly handled by the police. The controllers will have a more active role if, say, a passenger on board a flight becomes unwell. In this case, they organise an ambulance to meet the plane on the ground and may even bump the flight up the queue.

"It's all calm and collected - if you get too excited easily you probably would not make a good air traffic controller," said Dan. "The training just kicks in."


The campaigners sang adapted carols
outside the Transport Secretary's house

Calum Rutter - Epsom Guardian Online - 27 December 2017

Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners made a light-hearted festive protest outside Chris Grayling's house before Christmas. The group visited the Transport Secretary on the last night of the government consultation, singing re-worded carols.

One such adaption went (to the tune of Ding-Dong Merrily on High): "Sir Howard Davies [Airports Commission] was a lie/And no way independent/Fingers in the Heathrow pie/And property development/No-ooooo-oooooo-oooooo/Ifs and buts/There will be no third runway."

Only a couple of the campaigners knew the destination in advance, so to most of them it was a surprise to sing outside Mr Grayling's house.

Neil Keveren, resident near Heathrow who attended the carol singing, said: "This was a fun event but with a very serious point. Mr. Grayling has the security of knowing he has a home for his family for this Christmas and as long as he wishes to stay there. Meanwhile, thousands of others, thanks to his Government, have had their homes threatened with destruction or feared an increase to the cap of 480,000 flights a year."

OUR COMMENT: Songs for Stansted too?

Pat Dale


Dermot Davitt - The Moodie Davitt Report - 7 December 2017

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) posted revenue of 104.6 million from its retail concessions in the six months to 30 September, a healthy increase of +13.4% year-on-year. The company owns and manages Manchester, London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airport.

The retail performance was driven by increased passenger volumes, and a strong contribution following a big investment in the food & beverage offering at London Stansted Airport.

Car parking revenue hit 103.1 million, +13.3% higher than the prior-year period, driven by additional capacity to serve increased passenger volumes, and more effective management of the customer trend of moving to pre-book channels, said MAG. Total commercial income (including retail, car parking and property) reached 270.1 million in the half, up by +10.6% on H1 2016.

Passenger volumes grew by a robust +9.1% across the company's airports to 34.9 million. Group revenue climbed by +12.9% to 544.6 million while adjusted EBITDA grew +9.6% to 236.6 million.

In its interim results statement, MAG said: "The largest increases in passengers are at our two main airports, Manchester (growth of +9.2% on prior period) and London Stansted (growth of +9.8% on prior period), where airlines have increased capacity and introduced new destinations, largely driven through low cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet. The introduction of Jet2.com has contributed significantly to growth at London Stansted."

"New long-haul routes with new and existing airlines have also been added, to increase the breadth of destinations across our airports, including the launch of new direct routes to Muscat (Oman Air), Houston (Singapore Airlines), Boston (Virgin Atlantic) and San Francisco (Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic)."

On 4 December, the group announced the disposal of its share in Bournemouth Airport to Regional and City Airports, a division of Rigby Group in the UK. The funds generated will be invested in its other UK airports.

OUR COMMENT: With such good retail figures why not just capitalise on developing this market? "Visit Stansted 'airport in the country' for the best retail opportunities! - including our aircraft museum. Enjoy the peaceful Essex countryside."

Pat Dale


A new taxiway at Heathrow could interfere with departures

John Collingridge - Sunday Times - 3 December 2017

Heathrow will not be able to expand to its promised 740,000 flights a year because of safety flaws involving its third runway, a new report claims. The airport will be restricted to fewer than 700,000 flights annually, undermining a core pillar of its 17.6bn expansion plan, according to the report by the engineering consultancy Ebeni. The main concern is a new taxiway at the end of the northern runway, which it is claimed could interfere with departures.

Ebeni's aviation experts think the tail fins of large aircraft such as the Airbus A380 superjumbo and Boeing 747 would infringe on the clearance space needed by other planes taking off. This would mean the taxiway could be used only between departures, forcing the number of flights to be cut by 15 an hour. The taxiway is needed to link the new third runway with terminals.

The report was commissioned by Heathrow Hub, a rival proposal for a cut-price expansion, achieved by extending the northern runway and splitting it into two separate strips.

Ebeni also claims the scheme drawn up by the airport's owners, which include the Spanish infrastructure investor Ferrovial and the Qatar Investment Authority, would have a much bigger impact on homes than Heathrow has suggested.

Jock Lowe, the former British Airways pilot who leads the rival proposal, said the flaws highlighted by the report made it "impossible for Heathrow to deliver on its capacity, noise and respite targets". He is due to be quizzed by the Commons transport committee tomorrow.

The report is the latest salvo in the long-running battle to build another runway in southeast England. Heathrow is currently restricted to 480,000 flights a year. Its complex plan involves building a third runway to the northwest, across the M25, giving it three parallel landing strips in a densely developed part of London.

While the proposal has been backed by the government, it awaits the final seal of approval. Heathrow needs the support of MPs, with a vote on the airports national policy statement (NPS) due in the first half of next year. Reports suggest Labour could vote against the third runway.

Derek Provan, Heathrow's chief operating officer, said: "We have unrivalled experience of operating a major airport and we are completely confident that we can safely operate 740,000 annual flights with a third runway. This was confirmed independently by the Airports Commission after the most extensive, in-depth review of aviation in a generation."

Heathrow has yet to confirm how it would build the runway over the M25. The hotels tycoon Surinder Arora has also put forward proposals, and called for the expansion to be prised from the airport operator's grasp. He said allowing his team to deliver and run the third runway would save 6.7bn.


aef.org.uk Online - 1 December 2017

AEF has today launched a new guide for anyone who might be experiencing aircraft noise whether from commercial airlines or light aircraft, including helicopters.

The guidance, which can be found here, considers the issues that readers might be experiencing, and where they stand in terms of the law, their human rights, and rights to compensation. It also sets out how people can take action, including using complaints procedures, joining a local action group, and finding out about the airport's planning restrictions.

The guidelines have been launched in response to the many queries received about aviation-related noise issues. Our 2016 survey revealed noise as the biggest single concern for our members, with 83% of respondents reporting noise problems during the day, and 73% reporting noise problems at night.


Travelmole Online - 29 November 2017

The UK could see a slowdown in air traffic growth over the next year as airlines shift capacity to other European countries, according to influential ratings agency Moody's.

In its latest report, it said traffic growth in Europe would remain strong - around 5% to 7% - next year, but it forecast a slowdown in the UK. Moody's said the UK would be hit by the decision by some airlines to move some capacity to more profitable markets, including Germany. As a result, growth in the UK would be only around 3% to 6%.

Over the first nine months of this year, the 10 largest European airports reported average passenger growth of 4.9 per cent, with Heathrow, the busiest, reporting a 3% rise.

"An improved economic environment, particularly in continental Europe, combined with continued low fuel costs, relatively contained air fare inflation, and growing airline capacity, will continue to stimulate demand for air travel and support the European airport sector's positive outlook," said Xavier Lopez del Rincon, Moody's vice president - senior credit officer.

The ratings agency is warning that Britain's departure from the EU presents a further risk for the UK. If the UK also fails to negotiate a new air traffic agreement with other European countries by the time it exits the EU, flying rights affecting around 80% of air passenger volumes will be lost.


KcwToday Online - 17 November 2017

A consultation for Hammersmith and Fulham residents to have their say on the plans for a third runway at Heathrow has reopened in light of new evidence.

The Department for Transport, who are running the consultation, released new evidence regarding noise, CO2 emissions and air pollution. This information was not public knowledge during the first round of consultations, which closed in May.

The announcement of the reopening of the consultation, which will run until 19th December, coincides with the year anniversary of the government's decision to expand Heathrow over Gatwick. This would mean an extra 700 flights to and from the airport a day.

The government's sustainability appraisal claims that building a second runway at Gatwick would have less of a negative impact on the surrounding area. The news of the consultation follows a recent local demonstration where members of the protest group No Third Runway set up a number of red cardboard planes in Ravenscourt Park.

Victoria Timberlake, the group's co-Chair, said: "There is deep and heartfelt opposition to any further expansion of Heathrow. Seven hundred extra flights each day can only bring more misery to the hundreds of thousands of Londoners living under current flightpaths, as well as new misery to communities overflown for the first time."

If the plans are given the go-ahead, construction of the runway would begin early 2021, to be completed by 2025. For more information on the consultation phone 0300 123 4797 or visit www.gov.uk/dft/heathrow-airport-expansion.


Stansted Airport wants to significantly raise
the cap on annual passenger numbers

Harriet Clugston - Hertfordshire Mercury - 7 November 2017

Campaigners have hit back at plans for a huge expansion at London Stansted after the airport claimed that a cap on passenger numbers was restricting its potential for growth. The Essex airport, which is owned by Manchester Airports Group (MAGs), is subject to a planning cap that prevents it from handling more than 35 million passengers per annum (mppa).

Following a period of "extensive consultation with local communities over the summer" Stansted now says it wants to see this increased to 43 mppa - a slight reduction on the 44.5 mppa it was originally aiming for, but a huge increase on the 26 million passengers it currently caters for.

Airport bosses claim the change is necessary to enable it to meet a growth in passengers over the next decade, after it saw an increase of nearly 10 million passengers over the past five years. Over 700 people attended the airport's consultations over the summer.

However, campaigners argue these claims are undermined by official Government statistics which, they say, show predictions that "Stansted will be bursting at the seams by 2023" were "a gross misrepresentation of the reality".

According to the UK Aviation Forecast published at the end of October, the Government expects Stansted to handle just 31 mppa by 2030 and 35 mppa by 2033, based on the assumption that current planning caps remain in place. Should a new runway be built at Heathrow as planned, the forecast for passenger numbers at Stansted then drops to 22 mppa in 2030, consequently only reaching the present cap of 32 mppa in 2043.

Commenting on the findings, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman Peter Sanders said: "MAG's overstatement of potential demand to secure support for expansion is nothing more than an opportunistic ploy. It is designed to take advantage of a lull during Government consultations on the future of aviation and to try to rush through permissions that might otherwise be restricted once the new aviation policy emerges towards the end of 2018."

"MAG has presented its case as if failure to concede a further tranche of expansion would somehow compromise the rights of the travelling public as well as the UK economy, when the Government's own figures show this to be far from the truth."

However, Stansted Airport has pointed out that the Government recognises that its forecasts are "not intended to provide detailed projections for each individual airport", and that airport specific data may be used to inform local planning decisions.

A spokesman for the airport said: "Growth at Stansted over the last five years has significantly exceeded the previous projections from both Government and the Airports Commission. Stansted is now effectively ten years ahead of where the Government and the commission thought it would be today. Unfortunately, the Government's recently published forecasts suffer from the same fundamental flaws as their previous forecasts, in particular their failure to take account of commercial drivers that have delivered the exceptionally strong growth for Stansted Airport and its low cost carriers, such as highly competitive airfares and long term commercial agreements with airlines."

"Looking to the future, our independently prepared traffic forecasts show continued strong growth at Stansted, with the airport serving 35 million passengers in 2023. These forecasts provide the airport with the business case for the substantial investment in new passenger facilities that we will be making over the coming years."

The airport will be hosting three community feedback sessions in the coming weeks to update local residents about their revised plans and hear their views. They plan to submit a final planning application to Uttlesford District Council in early 2018.


Ben Ireland - TravelWeekly Online - 26 October 2017

Ryanair has hit back at Balpa after the union approached the budget airline's pilots to test the water over potential strike action.

Balpa (British Airline Pilots Association), which represents more than 10,000 pilots in the UK, is assessing the level of support among the Irish carrier's pilots to establish their legal status as contract workers or direct employees of Ryanair in a consultation that lasts until November 6. The union says Ryanair pilots are "in revolt" and is asking them if they'd back industrial action.

But Ryanair has hit back at the union and urged pilots concerned about working conditions to deal with them directly. The Irish airline said Balpa's claims have "no validity" and published figures which it says show it pays more than rival carriers.

A spokesman for Ryanair said: "These claims from the BA pilots union (which has no involvement or recognition in Ryanair) and which currently presides over hundreds of pilot job losses in Monarch, have no validity. If Ryanair pilots wish to discuss or improve their pay or conditions, they can do so at any time using the established collective bargaining process, which has already delivered them industry leading pay 5 on/4 off rosters and unmatched job security."

Ryanair claims that when basic pay, 'productivity', 'sector pay', expenses and pensions are taken into account, it pays its captains 22% more than Jet2.com and 20% more than Norwegian.

The airline also dubbed the union's claims that it has "complex employment structures" as "false", adding: "A majority of Ryanair pilots in 2017 are direct employees, a minority are contractors, just like the contractor pilots which predominate among Norwegian, Wizz, Easyjet and other low cost airlines in Europe, and the many contractors employed by hospitals, hotels, airports and media."

The row follows Ryanair's pilot rota crisis which forced it to cancel thousands of flights over the winter and prompted the airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary to launch an extraordinary public attack on its pilots. He later apologised and Ryanair was reported to be offering improve terms and conditions to the many pilots who have the airline to join rivals such as Norwegian.


Greg Pitcher - NewCivilEngineer Online - 25 October 2017

Heathrow's third runway could harm efforts to stay under European Union air pollution limits, a report published by the government has warned.

An assessment by engineering consultancy WSP of the government's 2017 Air Quality Plan, which was published in July following several legal battles with an environmental law group, said the proposed north-west runway at the west London airport could impact on compliance with the EU's Ambient Air Quality Directive.

"With proposed opening of the scheme between 2026 and 2030 it is unlikely that concentrations in central London will have fallen sufficiently to remove the risk of the airport expansion impacting on EU limit value compliance," said the study.

The document was published amid a raft of information as ministers launched a fresh consultation on revised airports policy ahead of a vote on the controversial project next year. It comes almost exactly a year after transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that a third runway at Heathrow was the government's preferred way of boosting capacity in the South East.

An initial consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement concluded in May this year but the government has revised the policy in light of responses and fresh evidence, paricularly about how the third runway could impact air quality. This week it launched a new consultation on the revised statement.

Amid the flurry of publications, a framework for balanced decisions on design and use of airspace signalled a U-turn on previous proposals to transfer noise control responsibility to certain airports. And a forecasts document showed predictions that Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and City airports would be at full capacity by 2030, with Stansted reaching full capacity by 2040 along with Bristol and Southampton.

The government said it was on track to publish final proposals for expansion at Heathrow in the first half of 2018 before a vote in Parliament.

Grayling said: "The case for expanding Heathrow is as strong as ever and we want to hear your views on it. This is an important consultation and I encourage everybody to get involved across the UK."

Heathrow described the latest consultation as a "key milestone". "The forecasts show expanding Heathrow, the UK's only hub airport, is even more important than previously realised," said a spokesperson for the airport.

"A third runway will ensure Britain's place in the world as an outward looking trading nation. That's why the government has committed to a final vote on expansion in the first half of 2018. Today's consultation will be welcomed by business groups, trade unions and the majority of MPs who all recognise that expanding Heathrow is the only option to connect all of Britain to global growth."


Molly Dyson - BuyingBusinessTravel Online - 24 October 2017

The government has issued a revised draft version of its Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), updating its stance on the much-debated expansion of London's aviation capacity. While a third runway at Heathrow is still being supported, the report calls on the airport to take steps to ensure disruption in the area is handled properly.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling set out the next stage of delivering a third runway at Heathrow, with a final proposal to be published in time for a parliamentary vote in the first half of 2018, according to a government statement.

The draft sets out a planning policy framework, which an applicant would have to comply with in order to be granted consent to begin works on a new runway, including:
Delivering at least six more domestic routes across the UK by 2030
Providing a package of support for communities affected, including noise insulation for homes and schools
Setting legally-binding noise targets, periods of predictable respite and a ban of six-and-a-half hours on scheduled night flights
Paying home owners 25 per cent above market value rate plus costs for the purchase of houses if needed to make room for the new runway.

Grayling says the government is building on Heathrow's pledge to put forward a package worth up to 2.6 billion. Planning consent will only be given if the airport can put forward a strategy to stay within air quality and climate change regulations. The transport secretary also says he will have the power to review any flight path changes if he feels they are of 'national significance'.

The new draft NPS comes after Grayling delayed a decision on Heathrow's third runway following the general election, saying the need to form a new select committee pushed everything back. However, he comments that airport expansion is needed to boost the UK economy.

"Leaving the EU is a new chapter for Britain and provides us with a great opportunity to forge a new role in the world," Grayling said. "We are determined to seize that opportunity and having the right infrastructure in place will allow us to build a more global Britain."

The public now has until December 19 to respond to the draft NPS, after which point a final version will be drafted for review by Parliament.

A Heathrow spokesperson said the forecasts given in the consultation show expanding the airport "is even more important than previously realised" and claimed it has "already pledged to meet or exceed the conditions recommended by the Airports Commission to address impacts on local communities and the environment".

Meanwhile, a Gatwick spokesperson commented that the airport welcomes the revised draft and will "look carefully" at the consultation material. Gatwick also claims to be offering a "credible" privately-financed runway addition.

We will try and keep you up to date with events relating to the plans for the expansion of Stansted Airport. We invite any interested organisations or individuals to send us their own news. Please send contributions as a Word attachment to Pat Dale.

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