4th November 2003
Airport Environmental Threat Highlighted by Costumed Campaigners
The threat to the irreplaceable natural and historic environment around Stansted was again thrown into the spotlight today (Tuesday 4 November) when costumed campaigners opposed to a second Stansted runway called on the government departments with front-line responsibility for heritage and the environment to prevent an unprecedented act of environmental vandalism from being committed.
The campaigners from Stop Stansted Expansion were dressed in Medieval, Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Victorian clothes to symbolise the centuries-old built heritage which is under threat from plans to add an extra runway at Stansted [see NOTE 1].
Their demand came in the form of the Stansted Declaration of Environmental Rights [see NOTE 2] setting out ten fundamental environmental reasons against the addition of a further runway at Stansted. The declaration calls upon the government to honour the pledges it has made and the responsibility it carries to protect the natural and historic environment for both present and future generations.
Hundreds of copies were handed out to staff at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Both government departments have a critical role to play in protecting the natural and historic environment in the face of demands from the aviation industry for more runways. The government is expecting to publish its air transport White Paper in December.
To make doubly sure that the message hit home, Hertford and Stortford MP Mark Prisk joined the Stop Stansted Expansion campaigners at DEFRA to personally deliver a letter to Margaret Beckett urging her to take her responsibilities to the environment seriously. Mark Prisk has also written to Prime Minister Tony Blair, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling and to Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, reinforcing the environmental reasons for rejecting Stansted expansion plans to them.
SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone said: “The exceptionally strong economic, infrastructure and environmental arguments against adding an extra runway at Stansted means the government has no other option but to consign plans for expansion here to the scrap-heap. Today’s activity highlights the need for those with responsibility for the environment and our heritage to stand up and protect this country’s natural assets for the benefit of all.”
Assessing the impact of the initiative, she added: “The action will have registered strongly at all levels within DEFRA and the DCMS and will demonstrate to these departments the seriousness of their responsibilities.”
NOTE 1: The five costumes were as follows:
c1400 Late-Medieval (Ken McDonald)
c1570 Mid-Elizabethan (Janice McDonald)
c1670 Stuart – Charles II (Peter Riding)
c1750 Georgian (Moya Bayford)
c1840 Early-Victorian (Maggie Sutton)
NOTE 2: The Stansted Declaration of Environmental Rights reads as follows:
“We the people of the towns and villages around Stansted hereby declare that the environmental rights of this community are inalienable; that we have a duty to protect this natural and historic environment for this and future generations; and that it is the solemn duty of our government to protect the heritage and ecology of this area and to reject outright proposals for a second Stansted runway. To do otherwise would amount to nothing less than an act of environmental vandalism.”