| Press Release - 17 December 2013
A HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF BUT IT'S NOT OVER YET
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed huge relief that Stansted has not been short-listed by the Airports Commission as a potential location for an additional runway or runways to meet future aviation demand in the South East.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: "This is exactly the outcome that the entire SSE team has been working so hard to achieve all year. In truth, however, keeping Stansted off the shortlist was more than we dared hope for - but it is absolutely the right outcome. The environmental consequences of even one extra runway would have been catastrophic and there has never been a viable business case for any extra runways at Stansted."
Stansted is currently operating at less than half of its potential capacity. In addition, it has no long haul flights and it primarily caters for outbound leisure travel by UK residents rather than the business market, and low-cost carriers Ryanair and easyJet account for over 90% of its passengers. These were all important considerations for the Airports Commission which is strongly focused on supporting UK economic growth and the UK's global air connectivity.
Unfortunately, the Airports Commission has not completely ruled out an extra runway at Stansted. The Commission has said that its final report, which will be published in mid-2015, after the next General Election, will consider whether a second Stansted runway might be a plausible option in the 2040s.
Peter Sanders continued: "We must continue to engage fully with the Commission over the next eighteen months because we don't just want to win a reprieve for this generation but also for generations to follow. In the meantime, Stansted Airport still owns some 270 homes in the vicinity of the airport which it bought with a second runway in mind. We now expect to see a phased sale of these properties back onto the market. That would bring some peace of mind and confidence to the local community, which has had to live with the threat of major expansion at Stansted for far too long."
Ultimately, it is not the Airports Commission which will make the final decisions, but the next Government, during the latter half of 2015. "It will therefore be another two years before we can even think of letting our guard down", Peter Sanders concluded.
SSE also announced today that it has notified the Commission that it is ending its Judicial Review challenge and will not now be seeking leave to take the case to the Court of Appeal.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Airport Commission's interim report (228 pages + 187 pages in appendices) can be found here.
2. Terms of Reference
The Airports Commission was launched on 2 November 2012. Its terms of reference require that it should report no later than the end of 2013 on:
* Its assessment of the evidence on the nature, scale and timing of the steps needed to maintain the UK's global hub status
* Its recommendation(s) for immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next 5 years - consistent with credible long term options.
Its terms of reference also require that it should report no later than summer 2015 on:
* Its assessment of the options for meeting the UK’s international connectivity needs, including their economic, social and environmental impact
* Its recommendation(s) for the optimum approach to meeting any needs
* Its recommendation(s) for ensuring that the need is met as expeditiously as practicable within the required timescale.
3. Earlier this year, the Commission received a total of 58 proposals from airport operators, developers and others for increasing airport capacity. Over the past few months the Commission has been whittling these down to its shortlist, which is expected to include no more than a 'handful' of options.
4. SSE has engaged fully with the Commission throughout the year responding to all of the Commission's discussion documents and requests for evidence, in total making eight separate submissions. SSE was also invited to give oral evidence to the Commission at a public evidence session, the only local community group to have been invited to do so.
5. Today's decision by Sir Howard Davies not to shortlist Stansted as an option for an extra runway or runways is consistent with the conclusion reached on each of the three previous occasions when Government has allowed an independent body to consider airports policy for the South East. Each time - Blake in 1966, Roskill in 1971, Eyre in 1984 - the recommendation has always been that Stansted should not be developed beyond the capacity of its existing single runway. Sir Howard Davies's decision today makes it four in a row.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT
Peter Sanders, SSE, T 01799 520411; (M) 07814 581463; email@example.com
Brian Ross 01279 814961; 07850 937143; firstname.lastname@example.org
SSE Campaign Office, T 01279 870558; email@example.com