26th April 2020

Council bears heavy responsibility to future generations

Key challenge of determining planning application for new Stansted runway

Stop Stansted Expansion has reminded Uttlesford District Council of the heavy responsibility it bears in determining BAA’s application for making full use of Stansted’s single runway.

Speaking on the eve of the submission of BAA’s application to make Stansted the busiest single runway airport in the world, SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone told a packed meeting of the Full Council that this would be the most significant application ever to be faced by UDC, the planning authority for the airport.

The current planning permission, granted just three years ago, allows 25 million passengers to be handled.

Calling on the Council to take a lead in setting the agenda in representing the community, Ms Barbone made clear that the onus was on UDC to thoroughly investigate all of the direct and indirect impacts which such major expansion would have.

She emphasised that Uttlesford is the special place it is today because generations past have fought tooth and nail to defend and protect its unique character.

Future generations would be the judge of the quality of UDC’s decision, particularly on the vital issue of climate change. As such, the responsibility on the Council’s shoulders is very heavy.

The full text of the statement to Council is reproduced below.

Address by Carol Barbone, SSE, to UDC, 25 April 2006

Three years ago this council approved BAA’s application for 25 million passengers a year to use Stansted Airport.

Tomorrow, BAA will submit an application which, if approved, will make Stansted the busiest single runway airport in the world. As a result, this planning application will be the most significant ever to have been considered by Uttlesford District Council.

The application will not be about bricks and mortar, but about the direct and indirect effects of an airport handling more passengers than Gatwick today.

It is essential that these effects are thoroughly examined by the Development Contol committee before a proper assessment can be made. And it will be vital to ensure that the Council does not rely upon BAA’s projections, produced by its so-called “independent consultants” (or for that matter to rely upon SSE’s analysis). The Council must take its own fully independent expert advice.

But it isn’t only the members of Development Control who will bear responsibility for doing the right thing. Every councillor elected to serve the people of Uttlesford has a duty to ensure that the final decision reflects the interests not only of the voters of today, but of the community of the future – irrespective of political party.

The focus must be on containing the development of Stansted Airport within tight limits that are truly sustainable. And this Council must set the agenda.

For far too long BAA has been allowed to take the lead and, frankly, a more proactive approach by this Council is long overdue.

SSE’s Chairman Peter Sanders recently wrote to every councillor setting out views on how this council could use its power as planning authority to insist on proper protection for those whom it serves. Let me give you two examples:

First, have a look at what has happened elsewhere. West Sussex Council’s permission for expansion of Gatwick’s single runway to full use was granted only on the condition that BAA accepted a 40-year moratorium on any second runway at Gatwick. If it’s possible at Gatwick, why not at Stansted – if you do eventually decide to grant permission for full use here.

The second point is in relation to night flights, where this Council has a longstanding policy of seeking a total ban on all night flights. This planning application presents an opportunity to put that policy onto the negotiating table.

Both of BAA’s airports in mainland Europe already have a ban on night flights. If the residents of Budapest and Naples can have a decent night’s sleep, why should people around Stansted be treated as second class citizens? And even those living within the vicinity of London City Airport, just 35 miles away, are saved from night flights thanks to active negotiation by the planning authority there.

Again, the message is clear. The people of this area must not be sold short.

It isn’t just today’s residents whose fate lies in your hands. It is our children and grandchildren, wherever they live, who will judge the quality of your decision – particularly on the vital issue of climate change. This of course is the most difficult issue of all to resolve in a manner consistent with the Council’s statutory duty to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. The responsibility is very heavy.

This community is counting on you to do the right thing. Stand up for what you know is important. Insist on having every tool at your disposal that will enable you to ensure the right outcome in the knowledge that your decision will affect so many lives – for better or for worse.

Uttlesford is the special place it is today – a collection of rural communities steeped in heritage and nestled in largely unspoilt countryside – because generations past have fought tooth and nail to defend and protect its unique character.

The responsibility for maintaining the uniqueness of Uttlesford now rests with you.”


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