What came before Stansted Airport Watch?
The original organisation formed to resist the threat of major expansion at Stansted Airport was the North West Essex and East Herts Preservation Association (‘NWEEHPA’), established in 1965. Its objectives were:
- To represent and assist by all means the interests of members in the preservation of the amenities, the environment and the quality of life of North West Essex and East Hertfordshire;
- In particular to contain the development and impact of Stansted Airport; and
- To co-ordinate the efforts of all persons and organisations in furtherance of the objectives in (i) and (ii) above in the most effective manner possible.
How and when was Stop Stansted Expansion formed?
On 23 July 2002, the Government published radical proposals for expanding airport capacity in the UK to support the growing demand for air travel. Stansted was the main focus of the Government’s proposals and options were published to expand Stansted by adding as many as three additional runways, which would make Stansted twice the size of Heathrow with a capacity of around 140 million passengers per annum (‘mppa’). At that time, Stansted was handling just 15mppa.
NWEEHPA immediately recognised that a major initiative would be needed to resist these proposals and an open invitation was extended to local organisations and individuals t0 help form a campaign group to oppose the expansion of Stansted Airport. A public meeting was held on 1 August 2002 and it was decided that the simplest, quickest and most effective way forward would be for NWEEHPA to set up a Working Group, with its own Executive Committee, where it would be joined by representatives of other organisations (such as Friends of the Earth, CPRE and others) and by concerned individuals.
The function of the Working Group would be to consider all matters relating to the operation and development of Stansted Airport in the context of sustainable development; to conduct or commission relevant research; to increase public awareness of these issues; to liaise with other organisations as appropriate; to conduct campaigns and to make representations to Government departments, local authorities and other relevant bodies.
It was agreed that the name of the Working Group should be Stop Stansted Expansion (‘SSE’) and that it should be open for individuals and organisations to join SSE directly. SSE would choose its own officers, Executive Committee, Chairman and Deputy Chairman but would not have a separate constitution. It would instead operate as a sub-committee of NWEEHPA.
At the NWEEHPA AGM in May 2021 it was unanimously decided to change the name of NWEEHPA to Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’). SSE was not to be disbanded but instead put into hibernation until such time as the threat of major expansion re-emerged. In the meantime SAW would become the engine room for the campaign, replacing SSE in that regard.