27th April 2020

A time to be magnanimous

Referring to “the current unprecedented circumstances”, the Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has written to the Chief Executive of Stansted Airport asking for the airport’s current planning application for the expansion of Stansted to 43million passengers a year to be withdrawn. [See Note below]

The background is that Uttlesford District Council (UDC) refused the Stansted Airport planning application on 24 January this year but the airport’s owners, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), almost immediately announced that an appeal was being considered. Legally, six months is allowed for a planning appeal and three months of that have now passed.

An appeal would trigger a Public Inquiry which would mean that the final outcome might not be known for possibly another 18 months. Meanwhile UDC has considered it necessary to set aside £1.7 million to cover the potential costs of a Public Inquiry, allowing for the risk of UDC being forced to pay MAG’s costs if its appeal were to be successful.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “SSE has called upon MAG to show magnanimity in the current circumstances by announcing that it will respect the decision made by UDC earlier this year. It’s time to end the uncertainty.”

Peter Sanders continued: “Ending the uncertainty would allow UDC to release the £1.7 million currently held in reserve and to use this money to assist local businesses and local residents, including airport employees who have been laid off, during the current crisis.”

Mr Sanders concluded: “It’s not only a question of magnanimity, it’s also about common sense. The aviation sector worldwide has been decimated by the Covid-19 crisis and it will take a very long time to recover. It is highly unlikely that Stansted Airport will need permission for any further expansion at any time soon.”

SSE is hopeful that MAG will respond positively to this plea. MAG has always insisted on its planning application being dealt with locally rather than nationally. Now more than ever, MAG should respect the UDC decision.


  • Stansted Airport handled 28 million passengers last year and is currently permitted to handle up to 35 million passengers per annum.
  • A copy of the letter from Peter Sanders to Ken O’Toole, the Chief Executive of Stansted Airport, is available from the SSE campaign office upon request.


Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits