30th January 2007

Ferrovial’s plans for Stansted ‘Belligerent and Irresponsible’

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has described Ferrovial’s latest expansion plans for Stansted as “belligerent and irresponsible” and has accused the Spanish infrastructure company which acquired BAA last year of being concerned only with profit regardless of the devastating environmental impact which its plans would have both locally and globally.

Aviation is the fastest growing contributor to global climate change and last year Stansted was responsible for the equivalent of some five million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. With a second runway, this figure could rise to some 12 million tonnes a year.

Locally also, the environmental impact would be devastating. It would result in the destruction of communities that have developed over centuries as well as vast swathes of unspoilt countryside and ancient woodlands. At the last Stansted Public Inquiry, Inspector Graham Eyre concluded as follows:

“I would not be debasing the currency if I express my judgement that the development of an airport at Stansted, with a capacity in excess of 25mppa and requiring the construction and operation of a second runway and all the structural and operational paraphernalia of a modern international airport as we know the animal in 1984, would constitute nothing less than a catastrophe in environmental terms.”

At that time (1984) Graham Eyre’s reference to an ‘environmental catastrophe’ was entirely based on the local impacts. Had he known what we now know about the damage caused by aircraft emissions to the global environment, and of the urgent need to dramatically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, there can be little doubt that he would have taken an even stronger line against the expansion of Stansted.

Ferrovial has chosen to pay only lip service to the environmental consequences of its expansion plans for Stansted and wants another runway by 2015. It goes without saying that this will be fiercely opposed by the local community. In addition, all of the key local authorities are totally opposed to a second Stansted runway including Essex, Herts and Suffolk county councils, Uttlesford and East Herts district councils and the East of England Regional Assembly.

Peter Sanders, Chairman of SSE commented: “Ferrovial is still trying to play yesterday’s game with the imperative of capitalising on the growth in cheap leisure flights. However, today’s imperative for the rest of us is to combat climate change. This does not yet seem to have dawned on BAA’s new owner who wants to go on making the problem worse regardless of the environmental impacts. This is the unacceptable face of capitalism complete with sombrero.”

“It is all very well putting a plan on paper but the hurdles that lie ahead will render this a pointless exercise,” said Peter Sanders. “Not only will this plan continue to be fiercely opposed at local level but also, it will become a much wider battle. It will become a key test as to whether – in the full knowledge of the environmental damage that it would cause – we as a society attach greater importance to protecting tomorrow’s environment or to meeting today’s insatiable demand for ever more cheap flights.”

Peter Sanders concluded: “Today’s announcement also demonstrates a staggering degree of belligerence and irresponsibility on the part of Ferrovial. This project should have been given up long before now and it will be opposed tooth and nail until such time as it is abandoned.”

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport