12th July 2005
Revealed: Plans to play down second runway impacts
A confidential document revealing how the environmental impacts of a second runway are to be played down has been leaked to Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).
The document, ‘Stansted Generation 2 Stage 4 Proposed Methodologies’, was produced for BAA by its consultants Arup and sets down the assumptions to be used and the procedures to be followed for assessing the environmental and other impacts of four different options for a second runway at Stansted.
The document was provided anonymously to SSE by a whistleblower concerned that the local community was about to be short-changed as a result of proposals that would underestimate the environmental impacts of a second runway. There was concern also that all the analysis was to be carried out behind closed doors by BAA and its consultants with no opportunity for the local planning authority or anyone else, to question the assumptions and methodology.
SSE has immediately written to Uttlesford District Council calling for the planning authority to intervene and bring pressure bear on BAA to explain and justify the basis for its environmental assumptions and assessments. SSE has also sent copies of the document to all 21 members of the Airport Consultative Committee (STACC).
SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone commented: “Our own experts are still going through this 80-page document page by page but we have already seen enough to set alarm bells ringing. It is easy to understand why the document was leaked to us and why BAA was so keen to keep this work behind closed doors thus avoiding public transparency and accountability.”
Ms Barbone continued: “It is a measure of BAA’s contempt for the local planning authority and STACC that neither would have known anything about this shoddy document had it not been for the efforts of a public-spirited whistleblower.”
The text of the letter dated 9 July 2005 from SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone to Alasdair Bovaird, Chief Executive, Uttlesford District Council sent with a copy of the document referred to above reads as follows:
STANSTED GENERATION 2 STAGE 4 PROPOSED METHODOLOGIES
The attached document was provided anonymously to Stop Stansted Expansion by I suppose what one would these days describe as a ‘Whistleblower’. We have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the document; it appears to have been prepared by project managers, Arup, and deals with proposed methodologies for the appraisal of four R2 options for Stansted.
In receiving this document, it was put to us that the assumptions and methodologies proposed by BAA (as the client) via Arup will result in under-appraisal of the projected environmental impacts.
We were pointed to air quality impacts as a prime example of this and we ourselves note that the intention is to use SERAS road traffic forecasts (para 4.4.1). BAA must know that this will result in substantial underestimation of the impacts. SERAS assumed that Stansted would develop as a major international hub, along the lines of Heathrow, where 36% of passengers are connecting and do not need surface access transport. This will not however be the case at Stansted.
It is of immense concern that the appraisal proposals set out in this document are being kept confidential by BAA so there is no proper opportunity for UDC, SSE, Stansted Airport Consultative Committee or anyone else to challenge the use of assumptions and methodologies which appear to be designed to under-appraise the key environmental impacts.
You will recall that we had similar concerns regarding the scoping of the EIA for the 25mppa+ planning application and, so far as we are aware, BAA has still not altered its specification of the EIA to accommodate UDC’s request for certain additional environmental impact information.
This all seems wholly unsatisfactory and whilst we very much doubt that BAA will pay any attention to SSE, perhaps UDC can exert some influence and persuade BAA of the need for public accountability and transparency. Otherwise this whole process will simply become a one-sided exercise with BAA demonstrating how to minimise the outcome of an environmental impact assessment and conduct a consultation where the only views that matter are those of BAA.
I am copying this letter and the document in question to the Managing Director of BAA Stansted and to members of the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee.