| CAMPAIGN UPDATE - AT A GLANCE
A summary of current events in SSE's campaign against expansion of Stansted Airport
and other recent news related to the expansion of airports and aviation - 9 July 2015
Commission report: "Remarkable turnaround" for Stansted
The Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, published its long awaited Final Report on 1 July and it has recommended that there should be a third runway at Heathrow. It could be several months before the Government announces its final decision, and even longer if - as expected - there are now legal challenges to the Commission's recommendations. Apart from a new runway at Heathrow, the Commission believes that there may be sufficient demand to justify another additional runway in the UK by 2050 but this would need to be justified on economic and environmental grounds.
Commenting on the Commission's Final Report, Stop Stansted Expansion says it is obviously relieved that the Commission has not recommended an extra runway at Stansted but that it has never been part of SSE's policy to seek to transfer the problems associated with major airport expansion onto the doorsteps of the communities living around other airports. With the total number of business and leisure flights from UK airports growing at less than 1% over the past 15 years, the need for additional runways in the UK has been greatly exaggerated by the aviation industry. SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: "Ten years ago Stansted was first in the queue for a new runway to serve London. Today's report marks a remarkable turnaround and that must come as a great relief to our local community." See the SSE Press Release.
No case for more flights at Stansted
SSE argues that if additional runway capacity is provided in the South East it will stifle the growth prospects for airports elsewhere in the UK and will make it virtually impossible for the UK to meet its climate change targets. Specifically in relation to Stansted, the Commission says "...there may be a case for reviewing the [35mppa] planning cap if and when the airport moves closer to full capacity. Its forecasts indicate that this would not occur until at least the 2030s". Stansted presently handles 21.5 mppa [million passengers per annum], which is exactly the same throughput as 10 years ago and so it is clear that there is currently no case for raising the existing planning cap of 35 mppa, comments SSE.
SSE made ten evidence submissions and a public presentation to the Commission. It welcomes the Commission's recommendations for an independent noise ombudsman and for a noise levy to be charged for each passenger, with the proceeds used to support local environmental and community projects. Today's confirmation by Sir Howard Davies that there is no case for an extra runway at Stansted is the same conclusion reached in each of the three previous inquiries into airports policy in the South East. The Commission's final report is available here.
A spokesman for Stansted Airport's owners, Manchester Airports Group, said: "Whereas Gatwick and Heathrow are full, we don't need a second runway. It would be better to make greater use of the facility we have and improve railway services to support that. Boris is right about Crossrail." See the Dunmow Broadcast report.
Stansted's managing director, Andrew Harrison, said: "The Commission has recognised the strategic importance of Stansted and the vital contribution the airport will make meeting demand in the UK over the short to medium term. The Government must now act to support the relaxation of planning caps at the appropriate time and improve rail connections to Stansted by investing in a world-class rail link. It will be at least 15 years before any new capacity is ready with the Commission's report highlighting the challenges that still need to be overcome, not least the need to meet stringent environmental conditions. Heathrow and Gatwick are already full but Stansted can accommodate an extra 20-25 mppa on its runway, so it's essential that we act now to ensure this capacity is used to its full potential. See the Cambridge News report.
Ryanair called for three runways at London's trio of major airports after the Commission published its report. The airline said the Government should allow each of the three London airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, to build three competing runways, which would solve the capacity crisis in the south-east for the next 100 years. See the Proactive Investors report.
EasyJet welcomed the Commission's recommendation and said it planned to open a base at Heathrow if the airport was expanded. "Heathrow will provide the greatest passenger and economic benefits," said easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall. The proposed expansion will be in the "best interest of all passengers", be it business or leisure travellers in both the long- and short-haul arena, she said. See the Flight Global report.
London Mayor Boris Johnson's comment that an extra runway at Stansted would be a better option than a third runway at Heathrow has been dismissed as "quite eccentric" by Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst. Mr Johnson said, "One of the things that interests me about Crossrail Two (which would run trains from SW London to Tottenham Hale) is that it does open up the possibilities of Stansted." Sir Alan commented, "I have already told him that I don't want to hear any more nonsense about Stansted and I shall tell him again." Sir Alan said in another report that the Commission's suggested ban on night flights at Heathrow had "sinister implications" for Stansted: "If they [the night flights] are not there, they will have to go somewhere. I don't want to see the transfer of night flights to Stansted." See the Dunmow Broadcast report.
Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and a candidate to be the next London Mayor, has confirmed he will resign his seat if the Government decides to follow Sir Howard Davies' recommendations to expand Heathrow, said the CityAM newspaper. David Cameron, meanwhile, would have to renege on his 2010 promise if he went ahead with the plans: "No ifs, no buts, there'll be no third runway at Heathrow."
Essex County Council leader David Finch believes a second runway after 2030 at Stansted may be "inevitable". He said, "We support Stansted owner's ambitions to introduce greater destinations and long-haul flights, and we believe Stansted should be an important airport of trade and commerce as well as for short breaks and holidays. Sensible growth at Stansted can benefit the UK and the Essex economy." See the Harlow Star report.
The London Evening Standard said that Sir Howard Davies's panel had avoided the fudge that many observers had speculated on. "Instead he issued an unambiguous and passionate call for a brand new full-length runway on the north west of the West London airport site which will cost £17.6 billion to construct," said political editor Joe Murphy. The Commission said there was "no credible case" for a fourth runway at Heathrow but by 2050 - and perhaps earlier - there would be enough demand to build a second runway at either Gatwick or Stansted. The full length runway at Heathrow would mean the demolition of 783 homes, whose owners will be offered the full market value plus compensation of 25 per cent to move out. It would create up to 77,000 new jobs in West London and boost the national economy by around 0.7 per cent, totalling up to £140 billion over 60 years, the paper said.
The BBC said a new Heathrow runway would come with severe restrictions to reduce the environmental and noise effects. Night flights would be banned and the Government would make a Parliamentary pledge not to build a fourth runway. Sir Howard Davies had also recommended an aviation noise levy to fund insulation for homes and schools, and a legal commitment on air quality. The BBC also reported that a second runway at Gatwick was viewed as a "credible" option by Sir Howard Davies but was less able to provide connections to long-haul destinations and would create lower levels of economic growth. See the BBC News report.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) condemned the Commission's recommendation for a third runway at Heathrow. CPRE said that it would destroy 694 hectares of green belt and 60 hectares of woodland and it would ruin the tranquillity of many parks and gardens, including impacting on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. See the Horticulture Week report.
The author and environmental campaigner Andrew Simms wrote in The Guardian that the Commission should have tackled frequent flyers instead of Heathrow or Gatwick expansion. Only about 11% of flights abroad are now accounted for by business travel, he points out.
"A third runway at London Heathrow Airport will never fly"
This was the headline of a Financial Times article by FT associate editor, Philip Stevens, who believes that the Commission's conclusions are "destined for the long grass". According to Stevens, Heathrow is in the wrong place, pollution levels already breach legal limits, and it is not certain that London actually needs a new runway. He concludes: "The pity is that money, time and energy will be wasted on a debate that can have only one outcome. Forget the Commission's expensively deceptive cost-benefit analyses. The runway will never be built." See the Financial Times report.
Cabinet split over Heathrow
The appointment of Greg Hands as the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury means there are now five senior opponents of a third Heathrow runway in the Cabinet, reported the London Standard ahead of the Airport Commission's report. "Diehard opponent" Boris Johnson now joins fortnightly political Cabinet sessions. The anti-Heathrow campaign is also tipped to get "rocket boosters" if Zac Goldsmith bids to become Conservative candidate for Mayor on a clean air and noise reduction platform.
SSE's parent body marks 50 years
The North West Essex and East Herts Preservation Association (NWEEHPA), SSE's parent organisation, has celebrated its 50th annual general meeting. NWEEHPA was founded in 1964 in response to the Government's proposals at that time for a second runway at Stansted Airport. In the years that followed NWEEHPA continued to resist expansion, and in 2002, when the Government threatened more runways at Stansted, it formed a working group, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), to spearhead the opposition. See the SSE Press Release.
Frequent flyer tax could obviate need for new runway
Calls for a "frequent flyer" tax to curb demand for leisure flights and make a new runway in south-east England unnecessary were unveiled shortly before the Airports Commission's report by an influential group of transport campaigners, environmentalists and tax experts including HACAN, Friends of the Earth and the Tax Justice Network. Ministers and candidates seeking to be the next mayor of London are being urged to back the proposals, which they say would reduce costs for once-a-year holiday travellers, while hitting those who choose to fly regularly. They say it would also ensure the UK could comply with its obligations under the Climate Change Act. See The Guardian report.
Better trains could help regional "powerhouse"
Sir Alan Haselhurst believes that an "East Anglian powerhouse" - to match the Northern powerhouse concept - could bolster the national economy. Speaking in the recent Queen's Speech debate in the House of Commons, he branded the West Anglia rail line - which links Liverpool Street with Bishop's Stortford, Cambridge and Stansted Airport - "a disgrace", adding that "the trains that run on them are scarcely less so". See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
Stansted traffic a long way from permitted levels
SSE reports that the level of activity at Stansted is up but still well below what it once was. In May 2015, passenger numbers rose by 12.6% from the same month last year, whilst flights rose by 9.5%. May's passenger numbers were 3.1% below the highest May, in 2006, and flights 18.4% below May 2006. Passenger numbers in the 12 months to May 2015 were 21.3m, an increase of 16.7% over the previous 12 months. Flights in the same period were 150,910 - up 12.7%. Cargo tonnage is showing an increase of 10.7% over the year. The significant growth in Stansted's activity since March 2014 has closed the gap between actual activity and planning permissions, although passenger numbers still have permission to grow 64% from their present level to 35mppa and flights have permission to grow 75% to 264,000.
Long haul and new cargo flights at Stansted
New long-haul flights Orlando, Florida, and the holiday resort of Cancun in Mexico will be launched from Stansted next summer by the TUI Group (Thomson and First Choice) using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Meanwhile China Southern has announced a new weekly service between Guangzhou and Stansted. See the Business Week report and also the Braintree & Witham Times report.
Bid for multi-storey car park at Stansted
Plans for a six-storey car park at Stansted Airport, adding 4,000 new spaces, have been submitted to Uttlesford District Council by AP27 Ltd, based at Heathrow Airport, which bought Site 500 from previous owner BAA in 2008. The 5.6-acre grassed plot is at Coopers End roundabout. The company, which has also submitted a parallel application for outline planning permission to accommodate an "Endeavour House 2" office building within the car park of the existing Endeavour House, says there is "strong demand from independent car park operators who are unable to obtain airport parking sites due to the near-monopoly control of the airport operator coupled with restrictive planning policies outside the airport boundary." Stansted has 25,726 car parking spaces. More than 50 per cent of the airport's passengers use public transport to get to and from the terminal. See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
Business flyers help Ryanair's earnings boost
Ryanair, which accounts for over 80% of Stansted?s passengers, has reported annual earnings up by 66%. The results follow a revamp designed to improve its image and attract business customers. The airline, which is celebrating its 30th birthday, posted post-tax profits of €867m (£614m) for the year to the end of March, up from?euro;523m (£370m) the previous year. Volume was up 11% to 90.6m passengers. See the ITV News report.
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