11th January 2021

STANSTED AIRPORT PUBLIC INQUIRY – A Fight for our Future

After more than three years of fierce resistance by the local community, the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport will be decided by a Public Inquiry which opens tomorrow [Tuesday 12 January].  The outcome will determine whether Uttlesford, East Herts, and other surrounding districts will continue to consist of largely rural communities or will, in time, become further blighted and urbanised in the same way as large areas around Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

SSE considers it entirely irrational, and potentially dangerous, for the Government’s Planning Inspectorate to insist that the Public Inquiry must start at the height of a pandemic.  Stansted already has permission for 35 million passengers and its passenger throughput peaked at 28 million in 2018, with passenger numbers in decline since mid-2019, long before the pandemic.  In 2020, Stansted handled just 7 million passengers and has forecast that it will take years to return to pre-pandemic levels. Plainly, there is no urgency to increase the current planning cap.

If approved, Stansted would be permitted to expand to a similar size and scale to Gatwick, which is why Stop Stansted Expansion (‘SSE’) has fought these expansion proposals, tooth and nail, since they were first announced in June 2017 by the owners of Stansted Airport, the Manchester Airports Group (MAG).  At that time MAG fully expected Uttlesford District Council (‘UDC’) to approve its proposals within three months.

However, UDC officials and MAG underestimated the strength of local opposition, spearheaded by SSE.  Three months has become three years and there is now, finally, an opportunity for the local community to make a stand.  We all have a moral obligation to call a halt to ever-increasing aviation emissions, for the sake of future generations as well as for the sake of all other species with whom we share this planet, and SSE will do its utmost to fight for these local and wider environmental principles at the forthcoming Inquiry.

SSE cannot however hide its disappointment that UDC officials have now, behind the scenes, withdrawn most of their objections to MAG’s expansion plans for Stansted, subject to a few hollow conditions.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “In view of the timing of this Public Inquiry, at the height of a pandemic, SSE is participating under duress, but we have powerful, well-researched evidence to put before the Inquiry and we will do just that, regardless of UDC’s position and regardless of the difficulties.”

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FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport