28th November 2005

Aviation Minister briefed on ‘Stansted Carport’

Reducing the amount of road traffic in and out of Stansted Airport was top of the agenda at a meeting this week between Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and Government Aviation Minister Karen Buck MP, arranged by local MP Sir Alan Haselhurst.

More than 70 percent of Stansted users travel to the airport by road and the airport already has more car parking provision than Heathrow and more even than Atlanta, the world’s largest airport. BAA’s car parks at Stansted earned over £32 million last year out of Stansted’s total profit of £45 million.

SSE sought the Minister’s support for a ‘Lo-car’ strategy for Stansted aimed at reducing the amount of car traffic generated by the airport and pressed for proper investment in the rail network so that it could handle a bigger share of airport users without cutting back on services to local commuters.

She was also pressed to support restrictions on airport car parking, for measures to combat local fly parking and to support Essex County Council’s proposal for an airport access levy.

The Minister confirmed that SSE’s proposals were fully consistent with the Government’s policy of getting people out of their cars and onto public transport and that responsibility for paying for any improvements to the rail infrastructure to serve the needs of Stansted Airport rested with BAA.

Sir Alan Haselhurst referred to “years of chronic under-funding” on the main rail line to Liverpool Street and to BAA’s failure to support the level of rail investment necessary to accommodate the growing number of airport passengers. The result was that services to many local rail users were now being cut back and this was wholly unacceptable.

SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone described the meeting with the Aviation Minister as non-confrontational and constructive. “Whilst reaffirming SSE’s outright opposition to the unsustainable expansion of Stansted Airport there was a meeting of minds on the unacceptability of Stansted Carport” she said.

1. Stansted’s profitability of £45m is taken directly from Stansted Airport Ltd (STAL) financial accounts for year ended 31 March 2005. BAA does not specifically disclose Stansted’s profit from parking but disclosed (in an analysts presentation in May 2005) that it earned £155m from car parking at its 7 UK airports in the year ended 31 March 2005. In addition, STAL financial accounts for the same period show a combined profit of £67 million from car parking, retailing and other commercial activities (whilst the actual airport operation at Stansted lost £22 million over the year). BAA’s profit from Stansted parking can be closely estimated by examining the segmental profit information for its UK airports in BAA plc accounts and the additional segmental profit information contained in the separately filed accounts for Stansed, Heathrow and Gatwick. As a final ‘reality check’, an analysis of the total number of car parking spaces avialable nationally at all 7 BAA airports in the UK shows that Stansted has 24% of the national total. SSE’s estimate of £32m profit is equivalent to only 21% of BAA’s national profit from car parking suggesting that this estimate may if anything be slightly conservative.

2. The meeting was held at the Minister’s office at the Department for Transport on 23 November 2005 and attended by Sir Alan Haselhurst MP and Carol Barbone and Brian Ross from Stop Stansted Expansion. The Minister was accompanied by her senior civil servants.

3. Photographs showing Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, Carol Barbone and Brian Ross at the Department for Transport are available on request from Carol Barbone.

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