14th September 2002

Campaign well under way

The Stop Stansted Expansion campaign has today released a statement of progress that clearly shows how successful it is being in securing support for its efforts to prevent the Government from sanctioning the building of three new runways at Stansted Airport. Hundreds of people are now joining the campaign each week and a significant new army of volunteers has pledged time, money and professional services to the campaign.

In the six weeks since its formation, Stop Stansted Expansion has focused its efforts on putting in place the people and the strategies to achieve maximum impact during what will probably become a long fight:

*  A powerful panel of experts is collecting evidence, liaising closely with its opposite partners at Heathrow and Cliffe. Under the guidance of Peter Sanders (a former Parliamentary Commissioner), they are preparing an official response to the Green Paper proposals. This group is also researching and approaching potential allies, such as health, environmental and nature organisations. It has also launched an air quality survey of local residents, which is being conducted by Professor Jangu Banatvala – Emeritus Professor of Clinical Virology at Guys, King’s and St Thomas School of Medicine in London.

*  A comprehensive database of the 1,200 members who have pledged active support has been developed, with these members now receiving regular email updates from the campaign office.

*  A formidable team of lobbyists and experts on the workings of Parliament has been drafting guidance notes and pro-forma paragraphs to help people write the letters that will count to Alistair Darling and constituency MPs. This group has also been researching other important influencers within Parliament and Whitehall whom the campaign now aims to target.

*  A high calibre legal team, including top ‘human rights’ lawyers, is exploring the legal avenues that may be used to stop the Government in its tracks. The legendary libel lawyer, Peter Carter-Ruck (now retired, but keen to fight this issue) is looking into the possibility of bringing a ‘class action’ in the European Court of Justice.

*  IT experts have created a website for the campaign – a powerful tool for generating support and keeping people informed.

*  Committee members have been involved with the organisation of and spoken at 8 public meetings, including high profile meetings at Stansted, Bishop’s Stortford and Dunmow at which Members of Parliament have also spoken. These meetings have been attended by more than 2,000 people and a further 11 meetings are planned for coming weeks. Around 250 people attended a further protest organised outside the Department for Transport’s recent exhibition at the Stansted Hilton.

*  A campaign logo and identity has been developed and 26,000 posters, 5,000 car stickers and 100 T-shirts have been produced. All of these items can be ordered from the campaign office, PO Box 311, Takeley, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts. CM22 6PY. Telephone: 01279 870558 from the website (www.stopstanstedexpansion.com) or from the public meetings.

*  A schools campaign has been developed and will be launched very shortly, with the aim of encouraging local schools and pupils to add their voice to the campaign.

Campaign Chairman, Norman Mead said: “Despite the fact that the Government launched this appalling document at the beginning of the summer holidays, we have been able to achieve a significant amount already – thanks to the support we are receiving from concerned and angry residents.”

“Our efforts are now focused on collating more evidence to back our case, on getting more people to join our cause and on encouraging everybody to make their voice heard in this consultation process. Critically, we will be seeking a meeting with Alistair Darling on our members’ behalf and will be encouraging him to come out and see the area for himself. We will be targeting national and broadcast media to spread the word outside our region and we will be lobbying extensively within Parliament to make sure we have as many political allies as possible.”

“Meanwhile, there is plenty that people can do to play their part – join our campaign, write letters to Darling with copies to constituency MPs, fill in the air quality survey, put up posters and stickers and encourage their friends and neighbours to do the same.”

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport