20th August 2007

Will Self to lead SSE Runway Ramble

Will Self is to lead Stop Stansted Expansion’s Runway Ramble which takes place on the morning of 15 September at Hatfield Forest, just to the south of Stansted Airport.

The author and columnist agreed to take part in this annual event when he visited Hatfield Forest and other ancient woodland threatened by BAA’s plans for expanding Stansted as part of an exploration of the relationship between airports and the spaces around them.

The five-mile family protest walk, starting just after 10am, will highlight the threat to the 1000-year old National Trust property from BAA’s plans which, if realised, would make Stansted’s “airport in the countryside” bigger than Heathrow today.

Hatfield Forest is a rare surviving example of a medieval royal hunting forest and is of great historical and ecological importance. It is also a much loved amenity which attracts some 300,000 visitors each year from a wide radius. Airport expansion would jeopardise its tranquillity, while there are grave concerns over the impact that such massive expansion would have on forest ecosystems as a result of changes in air quality. There are also fears that, longer term, climate change impacts would render the woodland vulnerable to extreme weather conditions which would further compromise its survival.

Aviation is the fastest growing source of the emissions which contribute to climate change.
Beyond the perimeter of the forest, the massive land grab being sought for the airport’s development would see the destruction of nearly 500 hectares of land (much of which is of special landscape value) and up to 27 hectares of woodland. A total of 73 homes including 18 listed buildings would also be demolished if the plans were ever allowed to go ahead.

The Ramble has consistently attracted many hundreds of participants since its inauguration in 2002. This is the first time, however, that Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and the National Trust have worked together to stage the walk through the ancient woodland of Hatfield Forest.

The collaboration between the two organisations comes at a time when BAA’s expansion plans for Stansted’s single runway are being considered at Public Inquiry and ahead of a planning application later this year for a second runway – even before the result of the current inquiry are known. SSE presented the majority of its evidence in July, while the National Trust is due to make its representations to the Inquiry on Friday 7 September. A further public inquiry to consider the second runway application is expected to begin in 2008.

Speaking ahead of the Runway Ramble, SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone said: “BAA’s relentless pursuit of its expansion plans under the guise of doing the Government’s policy bidding displays a blatant disregard for our heritage, environment and community.”

Hatfield Forest is located at Bush End on the B1256, just off Junction 8 of the M11. Entry to the Ramble is free with a suggested donation to the Stop Stansted Expansion fighting fund. Car parking fees apply to non-members of the National Trust. Refreshments available. Further information from Coming Events or from SSE on 01279 870558.

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport