| Press Release - 17 September 2010
RUNWAY RAMBLERS TO HIGHLIGHT AIRPORT BLIGHT
Plans are advanced for the ninth annual runway ramble to be organised by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) which takes place next Sunday afternoon, 26 September, in the form of the Hallingbury Hike.
The special four mile circular walk has again been devised by expert rambler Stuart Walker from Broxted and takes place in cooperation with the parish of Great Hallingbury whose harvest festival is the same weekend. The hike will highlight the blight which lingers over the countryside in the wake of the recently withdrawn plans to construct a second runway at Stansted.
It will also be an opportunity to remind people that the battle for the community's future needs to be enshrined in a lasting agreement by the main political parties so that future generations do not have to go through yet another war with the airport to safeguard the area.
The fear is that a change of government could rapidly bring a change in airport policy - something which BAA appears to be hoping for given its comments at the most recent airport consultative committee in late July. Then, Stansted's managing director David Johnston said that it was hard to predict how long it would be before aviation policy changed again, but made clear that in his own view there could be a scenario where the government changed and reinstates the need for new runways.
SSE is concerned that BAA will hang onto the hundreds of properties - some 223 in the second runway boundary according to David Johnston at the July meeting - in case runway expansion does come back onto the agenda. Despite claims that BAA was actively seeking to return homes to the community where possible, only 17 have been sold back in the past four years.
SSE's Campaign Director, Carol Barbone, said "Clearly the fact that BAA is clinging onto so many properties - many of them listed or historic buildings - sends a powerful signal that the airport operator is simply biding its time before it resurrects its expansion plans. We need to do all we can to tackle this and to secure a moratorium on a new runway through the forthcoming National Policy Statement on Airports which is due out for consultation in the New Year."
"The announcement of the Court of Appeal ruling into whether BAA can continue to own Stansted or not - due late September or early October - will presumably have a bearing on the airport's decision on its property portfolio," she added, "but whatever the outcome Stansted Airport cannot be allowed to stifle the rebuilding of the community which has suffered so much over the last eight years."
A further concern is the stated desire of BAA to use the existing facilities at the airport more intensively - something which would have far reaching effects for those living under flight paths not only in Essex but extending into Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
Hikers will set off from 2pm after a commemorative photo at the village hall in Great Hallingbury, just to the south of the airport. There is no charge for taking part. Refreshments will be available from 1pm to 5pm (a BBQ by the village hall and cream teas at the harvest festival in the church grounds) for departing and returning ramblers. Route maps will be provided.
More information on the Hallingbury Hike is available from the Coming Events page or by calling 01279 870558. Great Hallingbury is located just off the M11 (junction 8) and the village hall is in Church Road, CM22 7TZ.
NOTE TO EDITORS
Media are welcome to attend at 2pm on 26 September for the photocall at the start
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT
Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE: M 0777 552 3091 & firstname.lastname@example.org