31st December 2005
Airport campaign group gaining ground as tide turns against BAA
The intensive campaign waged by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) during the last 12 months has paid dividends in turning the tide of opinion against expansion at the low-cost flights mecca, Stansted Airport. This is the message which emerges from SSE’s Annual Review 2005.
In just over three years since its inception in 2002 SSE has matured to become a powerful and effective voice in expressing the concerns of the community regarding the threat of an expanded Stansted.
The campaign’s three main battlegrounds for opposing the plans for Stansted continue to focus on legal challenges, commercial viability issues and exerting influence through the planning system. A raft of activities has kept the community involved and motivated throughout, complementing the expertise contributed by a host of volunteers. The practical support of many additional volunteers and the backing of the group’s growing 6000+ membership underlies the community’s determination to defeat the threat of expansion of existing capacity as well as plans for a second runway.
Evidence of the success of SSE’s efforts is already visible in the overwhelming thumbs-down which has been given by the community, politicians, aviation industry and City commentators to BAA’s latest proposals for a second Stansted runway, now being dubbed ‘the runway that nobody wants’. The review clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the SSE campaign in building alliances and harnessing opportunities for debunking the myths about BAA’s unsustainable proposals for expansion at Stansted.
Even the economics of expansion at Stansted are being increasingly thrown into doubt in the light of the £17.6bn balance of payments deficit resulting from tourism. According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, £1.9bn was sucked out of the East of England regional economy in 2004 as a consequence of the tourism trade deficit , contradicting claims that airport expansion is good for the local economy.
Commenting on the review, SSE Deputy Chairman Norman Mead said: “We can never allow ourselves to be complacent but it is reassuring nevertheless to have ended 2005 on a relative high note with the City, aviation industry and community joining together to reject the BAA proposals for a second runway, and Uttlesford District Council making clear its position on expansion on the existing runway. More than ever, we appear to be winning through with our arguments and all the groundwork that we’ve undertaken over the last three years seems to be taking us in the right direction.”
“2006 promises to be a highly-charged year,” he continued, “not least because of the impending review of the Government’s Air Transport White Paper and the submission of BAA’s plans for expanding capacity on the existing runway. Our campaign will continue with renewed vigour in acknowledgment of the progress we have made to date.”