24th October 2002

Judicial review on airports consultation sought by Stansted

Stop Stansted Expansion has today (24 October) filed a claim for a judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the Government’s consultation paper concerning the expansion of airport capacity in the south east.

The campaign group is seeking to quash the present consultation on the grounds that it is fundamentally flawed because it fails to consider all the possible options for expanding air transport capacity. As it stands, the consultation provides an incomplete picture which will skew the decision making process and fail to serve both national and local interests.

Key to the success of the Stansted claim will be proving that the government was wrong to exclude any expansion of Gatwick from the consultation because of the existence of a planning agreement made in 1979 between BAA and West Sussex County Council. This legal agreement pledges no further runways at Gatwick before 2019, although in practice, it would be 2024 before they could be operational – the date which the consultation paper predicts a third runway would be needed in the south east. The government nevertheless has the power to overturn what is considered by many to be an outdated agreement if it chooses.

The claim is also made on the basis that the government’s decision to exclude Gatwick constitutes a breach of its positive duty under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights to protect the rights of persons living near Stansted airport to respect for their homes and private lives and to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions. One of the claimants, David Fossett, will lose his house if the government’s proposals for Stansted go ahead.

The move will put further pressure on the government to reconsider its thinking following a similar application earlier this month by Medway Council, Kent County Council and Essex County Council which have already been given permission to proceed, with a substantive hearing planned for 13 November.

Commenting on the application, Norman Mead, Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, said: “We are totally against further inland airport expansion and believe that demand should be managed. However, if the government is determined to expand airport capacity, there must be a level playing field in deciding the way forward. This means that all the options, including offshore airports, must be given proper and fair consideration.”

Stop Stansted Expansion is concerned that the addition of even one more runway at Stansted would make the airport the size of Heathrow within just nine years, irreparably damaging the countryside and compromising the quality of life and well-being of hundreds of thousands of people.

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport