9th August 2018

Confirmation of High Court action

In line with its previously stated intention, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) can now confirm that it has filed an Application for Judicial Review with the High Court. The Application was filed by SSE’s lawyers yesterday (8th August 2018) and its purpose is to challenge the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport to continue to allow the current Stansted Airport planning application to be determined by Uttlesford District Council (UDC).

SSE considers that the current airport expansion plans meet the legal definition of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (‘NSIP’) and so the planning application should be determined nationally by an expert team in the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State, rather than locally by UDC.

The application for expansion at Stansted was submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on behalf of Stansted Airport last February. If approved it would mean a 44 per cent increase in flights and a 66 per cent increase in passengers compared to 2017 levels.

From the outset, SSE has fiercely opposed UDC’s attempts to rush through the planning application and has argued that the scale of the proposed expansion means that, in accordance with the Planning Act 2008, the application had to be determined nationally rather than by the local Council. National determination is a lengthier and far more thorough process.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “High Court proceedings do not come cheap and so we do not take such actions lightly but only after careful thought and advice. SSE’s primary objective is to seek to safeguard the local community and local environment from unfettered and unsustainable airport expansion. Regrettably, legal proceedings are sometimes an unavoidable part of trying to achieve this objective but we must try to ensure a fair and thorough process for dealing with this planning application.”

While SSE will ask the High Court for an expedited hearing, even if this is granted, the hearing may still not take place until next year. In the meantime, if UDC proceeds to determine the planning application, the decision would be overturned if the High Court rules in SSE’s favour.

Although SSE is contesting the validity of UDC determining the current airport planning application, SSE has submitted extensive evidence to UDC setting out substantial grounds for refusing the application and SSE intends to submit further such evidence to UDC over the coming weeks and months.



  • Stansted Airport handled 25.9mppa in 2017. It presently has permission for 35mppa and its planning application asks for this to be raised to 43mppa.
  • SSE is represented by leading planning barristers Paul Stinchcombe QC and Richard Walk, both of 39 Essex Chambers, Chancery Lane, and by solicitors Birketts LLP


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