20th May 2006

Council faces first test on airport expansion

Uttlesford District Council faces its first key test on the airport expansion issue this week at a special meeting of its planning committee (Wednesday 24 May) to decide whether BAA’s application to remove any limit on passenger throughput on the existing Stansted runway meets the standard required to enable it to be formally considered.

BAA has submitted its planning application in defiance of the Council’s repeated insistence that it must be accompanied by comprehensive analysis of the full environmental impacts in such areas as climate change, noise and road and rail impacts through to 2030 and should include proposals to minimise and mitigate these impacts.

BAA has also failed to comply with the Council’s insistence on a full master plan for the airport being submitted in advance to enable the planning application to be considered in the wider context of the impacts of expansion to two runways.

The Council advised BAA of its requirements 18 months ago in its formal Scoping Opinion, which is an early stage of the planning application process. [see Note 1]

BAA’s reluctance to comply led to the Council writing to BAA last December to say:

“The Council reiterates the importance of the Scoping Opinion … which sets out advice to BAA on the information that the local planning authority considers should be submitted as part of the planning application. Notwithstanding the feedback BAA has provided on this advice, the Scoping Opinion as issued still stands.” [see Note 2]

The Council has promised to adopt a “resolute” approach to dealing with expansion proposals for Stansted and so will almost certainly send BAA back to the drawing board to provide the information which the Council has said all along would be essential. [see Note 3]

Stop Stansted Expansion Deputy Chairman Norman Mead has described BAA’s approach as “both foolish and discourteous, if not downright disrespectful.” Commenting on the application, he said: “BAA has provided more than 20 volumes of information about its plans but this is solely the information that BAA wants to provide. It has totally disregarded the repeated requests for the key information about environmental impacts that Uttlesford District Council has rightly been insisting upon since November 2004.”

The special planning committee (formally known as the Development Control Committee) will be held on Wednesday 24 May at 2.15pm at the Council’s Saffron Walden Offices. The meeting is open to members of the public and the press.

NOTES 

Note 1: On 4 November 2004, Uttlesford District Council provided BAA with its formal Scoping Opinion listing the issues which BAA would need to address when assessing the environmental impacts of further expansion of the existing runway a statutory requirement for any major planning application. Some 80 issues were identified and BAA has complied with fewer than 30 of these. Examples of the Council’s stated requirements which have been ignored by BAA are:

“A master plan for Stansted is essential, and it must be submitted in advance of the 35 mppa planning application. The scope of the proposed studies therefore needs to be broadened. The 35 mppa planning application must be considered in the wider context of the impacts expansion to two runways would have, if permitted by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry, and longer term growth in the London-Stansted-Cambridge Peterborough (LSCP) corridor.”

“An assessment of the impact of both the development and the resulting increase in air transport movements on the UK contribution to global warming through production of CO2 and other emissions must be estimated through production of CO2 by the best current methods. Study should include CO2 emissions from aircraft, vehicular traffic, energy use on airport, energy use in airport related activities off site, energy use in rail access, water supply, sewage disposal, energy use in construction, manufacturing of materials and transport of materials to site.”

“Forecasts of aircraft movement growth, passenger profile and traffic mix to 2030 are required to enable predictions of future wider impacts of airport growth. Core areas that need to be addressed in terms of the impacts of future development at Stansted at both 2021 and 2030 based on the assumption of two runways in operation are: air transport movements cargo and passenger forecasts; infrastructure proposals; safeguarding and land/ property take; surface access; impact on people and the natural environment; and proposals to minimise and mitigate impacts. Likely milestones and trigger points need to be identified.”

Note 2: On 14 December 2005, following a unanimous resolution passed by Uttlesford District Council members, a letter was sent to BAA which included the following:

“The Council reiterates the importance of the Scoping Opinion issued by the Council [in November 2004], which sets out advice to BAA on the information that the local planning authority considers should be submitted as part of the planning application. Notwithstanding the feedback BAA has provided on this advice, the Scoping Opinion as issued still stands.”
Note 3: Extract from Uttlesford District Council press release, 20 February 2006:

“With the council expecting an application for the maximum use of the existing runway from BAA Stansted as soon as April this year, councillors wanted to emphasise the work being done by the council to protect the district. Leader of the council, Cllr Mark Gayler, spoke to council saying that there was still much to do in defending the district’s rural character and that it would be resolute in doing so.”

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Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport