21st November 2006

Council set to refuse airport planning application

A planning application from BAA which could have led to a doubling of the number of passengers handled by Stansted Airport is set to be refused by Uttlesford District Council (‘UDC’), the local planning authority responsible for Stansted, when its Development Control Committee meets next week (29 November) to make a final decision.

The Council’s planning officers have recommended that the application should be turned down citing nine reasons for refusal including the impact that the proposed development would have upon noise, air quality, road and rail networks, water consumption and local quality of life. Officers have also concluded that the economic benefits have not been demonstrated to be strong enough to outweigh other factors.

Climate change is also cited as a significant factor. Officers also refer to the conclusions of the recent Stern report on the economics of climate change and to last year’s Tyndall Centre report showing that the rapid growth in air travel was threatening to wipe out all other savings in carbon emissions. They also highlight the recent report from Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute which called upon the Government to confront the contradiction between its support for massive airport expansion whilst calling for immediate action to tackle the problem of climate change by drastically reducing our carbon emissions.

It is widely expected that BAA will launch an immediate appeal if, as expected, its application is refused, leading to a public inquiry. The final decision would then rest with the Government, bringing into focus the glaring contradiction between its stated commitment to tackling climate change and its controversial policy of supporting major airport expansion to accommodate a near trebling of air travel over the next 25 years, set down in its 2003 Air Transport White Paper.

Peter Sanders, Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, commented: “We are obviously delighted with the officers’ recommendation which we believe to be entirely justified by the evidence presented to them on both sides of the argument. We would be astonished if Members of the Development Control Committee did not endorse this unanimously when they meet next week.”

“I very much hope BAA will respect the decision of our local, democratically elected council. BAA keeps claiming that it listens to what local people say and that it wants to be a good neighbour working in partnership with the local community. If BAA is serious about this, it will not appeal the decision.”

The White Paper also proposed a second runway for Stansted but the refusal of BAA’s initial planning application for making full use of the existing runway is almost certain to further delay these plans. Initially, the Government wanted to see a second runway at Stansted by 2011/12 but even before this latest setback, BAA was predicting that this could not be achieved before 2015.

Stansted has expanded dramatically in recent years – from handling less than 4 million passengers in 1996 to an expected 24 million this year – mostly as a result of the rapid growth in cheap leisure flights. Ryanair and Easyjet account for about 9 out of 10 of all flights from Stansted.

Refusal of the Stansted planning application will come as a major blow to Ferrovial, the Spanish infrastructure group which bought BAA’s airports at a hefty price tag of £10.5bn earlier this year.

Since the purchase, BAA has been beset by problems including the UK airport security crisis during the summer and an OFT investigation which is likely to lead to a full scale inquiry into its UK airports monopoly by the Competition Commission

The Government is due to publish a progress report on the implementation of its 2003 Air Transport White Paper before the end of the year.

Peter Sanders, Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion concluded: “We are delighted that there will be very little progress to report and very much hope that the Government will recognise that it is time for a fundamental review of its airport expansion policies which are wholly contradictory to the imperative of tackling climate change.”

The full text of the recommendation from UDC planning officers can be viewed on the Council’s website by entering the search term UTT/0717/06/FUL at: https://publicaccess.uttlesford.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do?action=simple&searchType=Application





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