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


Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) was established in 2002 in response to the Government's consultation on expanding UK airports and, particularly, to address the threat posed by expansion plans for Stansted Airport subsequently defined in the Air Transport White Paper in December 2003.

Our objective is to contain the development of Stansted Airport within tight limits that are truly sustainable and, in this way, to protect the quality of life of residents over wide areas of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk, to preserve our heritage and to protect the natural environment.

Our parent organisation, the North West Essex and East Herts Preservation Association (NWEEHPA), was founded in 1965 in response to a similar expansion threat and successfully defeated expansion proposals during the decades that followed. SSE operates as a working group of NWEEHPA.

We have 7,500 members and registered online supporters. These include about 150 special interest and environmental organisations, parish and town councils and other communities threatened by airport expansion.

Moreover, every local MP and MEP is against the proposals for a second runway at Stansted, so too are almost all the key county and district councils in the East of England region.

Our active team of core volunteers who work on grassroots and specialist issues with the Executive Committee, Response Team, Volunteer Group and Campaign Office team run a wide-reaching programme aimed at preventing the resurrection of any serious proposals for a second runway and at tackling the impacts of Stansted Airport's operations which affect the quality of life of so many in the community. Many initiatives - though not all - are the subject of press releases which appear in our Media Centre.

We have resolved to use all lawful measures necessary to achieve our objective including:
* Pursuing our vigorous campaign of publicity, lobbying and grass roots activities
* Increasing public awareness of the issues in order to gain support
* Making representations to Government departments, local authorities, the City and other decision-makers and influencers
* Identifying and, where necessary, pursuing legal challenges
* Challenging inappropriate expansion proposals for Stansted Airport via the planning system
* Conducting and commissioning inquiries and research to support the campaign
* Building partnerships with like-minded organisations based on common ground

SSE's activities are supported through our communications campaign and events programme. If you'd to do something to help, see our What You Can Do page or contact our Campaign Office if you'd like to offer to volunteer.

When we launched SSE in 2002 in response to Government proposals for major expansion at Stansted Airport, we were repeatedly told that we were wasting our time, that the plans for up to three additional runways outlined in the consultation document meant that at least one extra runway was a certainty. As expected, the Air Transport White Paper the following year confirmed the Government's position that an extra runway should be built at Stansted by 2011/12, with the Aviation Minister telling SSE that it would have been more than one runway had it not been for the strength of the campaign we had waged. If the Government expected SSE to settle for this 'compromise' and give up our campaign, they were sadly mistaken.

We knew that the economic case for Stansted's development was weak and that, given the growing concern over climate change and the catastrophic impact that a second runway would have on the local environment, we still had everything to fight for. We promised to leave no stone unturned to prevent the plans coming to fruition. In May 2010, almost eight years after we started our campaign, the Government withdrew its support for any major expansion of Stansted and BAA, the airport's owner at that time, withdrew its planning application for a second runway.

However, the threat re-emerged in September 2012 when the Government established the Airports Commission with the task of examining whether the UK needed new runway capacity and, if so, where this should be built. The Commission concluded in December 2013 that at least one new runway would be needed in the South East by 2030.

SSE engaged fully with the Airports Commission from the outset and succeeded in keeping Stansted off the Commission's shortlist of new runway options. The Commission published its final report in July 2015 which recommended that Heathrow should have a new (third) runway and the Government finally accepted that recommendation in October 2016. However, SSE's job is far from complete. The Government, local politicians, the media and others need to be constantly reminded that that there is no justification for major expansion at Stansted.

We also have the ongoing task of keeping pressure on the airport to minimise the impact of its operations on local residents - day and night. To ensure that our voice is effective and carries weight, we need as many members and supporters as possible.

There is also the wider challenge of getting the aviation industry to face up to its responsibilities in relation to global climate change. Endless expansion of aviation is simply not a viable option, and from a climate change perspective the provision of additional airport capacity - regardless of whether this is at Stansted, Heathrow or elsewhere - will exacerbate the problem. Working with other airport community groups and environmental NGOs, SSE will continue to press for action to tackle the growing impact of aviation on climate change, for example by lobbying for an end to the aviation industry?s blanket exemption from fuel duty and VAT.

The support of our volunteer team and the backing of so many in the community - from individuals to elected representatives, Parliamentarians to other environmental groups - has been key to the effectiveness of SSE over the years. For example:

* We successfully challenged the 2002 consultation in the High Court, forcing a re-run - see press release

* Our Judicial Review of the White Paper, which forced a new consultation on siting options - see press release

* Our campaign opposing cross-subsidy of Stansted from other BAA airports resulted in a ban on this practice by the economic regulator (the CAA), further reducing viability of expansion

* BAA performed a U-turn on the free parking for Parliamentarians after pressure from SSE - see press release

* We brought the BAA monopoly issue to the fore in the media, in Westminster, Whitehall and Brussels and through unusual collaboration with certain airlines: today, BAA faces break up - see press release

* We used concerted Parliamentary action to force the Government to retain limits on night flights at Stansted at a time when it wanted to rely solely upon unenforceable noise quotas - see press release

* Our lobbying for an increase in Air Passenger Duty so that aviation pays its environmental costs has been successful, as have plans to force consideration of a Duty Per Plane system - see press release

* SSE received a Parliamentary Award for Best Community Campaign and an Award was made in the Queen's Birthday Honours for one of our leaders

* David Cameron and Nick Clegg both pledged support for our campaign in their 2010 election manifestos - and kept to their word, cancelling Stansted plans in the Coalition Agreement.

* We made nine separate evidence submissions to the Airports Commission. We also launched legal proceedings against the Commission, forcing the resignation of one of its members, because we were concerned about a potential conflict of interest - see the SSE press release.

* We were successful in ensuring that Stansted did not even make the Airport Commission's 2013 shortlist of options for a new runway in the south east, and the Commission's final report, in July 2015, did not even give any consideration to the idea of an additional runway at Stansted.

* Within days of SSE instructing barristers to commence legal proceedings against Stansted Airport Ltd (STAL) in June 2016, for refusing to entertain local homeowners' compensation claims, we were pleased to call a halt to our legal proceedings as a result of a U-Turn by STAL when it announced that it would now introduce compensation arrangements for local homeowners.

Going forward, we will continue to spearhead representation of the community on issues arising out of the airport's current operations to minimise the impacts which already blight so many lives. We know that having achieved so much already we must not let our guard drop, but use the success to date to make the best possible progress in the future.

Membership subscriptions and donations form the bedrock of our income which is used to fund our many and varied campaign initiatives and Campaign Office team. These are augmented by income received from the Community Calendars which are produced and sold each year by a team of volunteers.

Full details of our financial accounts appear online.

SSE Contacts     History     SSE's Objective