8th September 2006

Don’t delay decision, SSE urges Council

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has called upon Uttlesford District Council to stick to its original intention and make a decision by the end of the month on BAA’s planning application for further major expansion of Stansted Airport to avoid prolonging uncertainty within the community.

The Council’s Development Control Committee was originally due to make a decision on the airport planning application on 27 September but announced last week that it intended to delay its decision until at least the end of November.

In arguing against any postponement of the planning decision, SSE has pointed out to the Council that the outstanding responses from the Highways Agency and the rail industry cited as the reason for the delay all relate to the single issue of surface access.  While this is an important issue, it is only one of more than a dozen areas where the proposed expansion would give rise to unacceptable environmental impacts.

In its formal response to the BAA planning application in July 2006 SSE provided a number of decisive planning reasons for refusing the application together with detailed supporting evidence to demonstrate that the environmental impacts of the proposed expansion would be fundamentally incapable of mitigation.  SSE’s response also demonstrated that the information which BAA has failed to provide is information which would generally not be helpful to its case.

BAA submitted its planning application in April but failed to provide much of the information requested by the Council, including analysis of the full environmental impacts in such areas as climate change, noise and road and rail impacts through to 2030.  BAA also failed to comply with the Council’s request for a quality of life survey and full master plan for the airport. This led Council Leader Mark Gayler to criticise BAA last week for not doing its homework properly.

SSE has now written formally to Uttlesford District Council quoting the Government Planning Guidelines which state that ‘if the developer fails to provide enough information to complete the environmental statement, the application can be determined only by refusal.’

Calling upon the Council to refuse the application, SSE Chairman Peter Sanders stated: “BAA has had ample opportunity to provide adequate information and has plainly failed to do so.  We therefore urge the Council to adhere to its original well-publicised and clearly defined timetable for dealing with this application and to reach a decision on 27 September 2006.”

Mr Sanders concluded that the Council should follow Government Planning Guidelines and reach a decision on 27 September.  He could see no justification for a postponement and no benefit in prolonging the uncertainty.

BAA’s planning application is for an additional 80,000 flights a year at Stansted Airport over current levels and for the removal of the current 25 million ceiling on annual passenger numbers. If the application were to be approved it could ultimately lead to Stansted handling up to 50 million passengers a year compared to the current throughput of 23 million.

The Council has received over 1400 representations in response to BAA’s planning application with objections outnumbering letters of support by almost 10 to 1.

(1)     A copy of Peter Sanders’ letter to Uttlesford District Council is available upon request.

(2)     SSE’s full response to BAA’s planning application can be viewed [on the SSE website under ‘Consultations’.  The recommendation contained in Section 14 of Volume 1 of SSE’s response is that the application be refused for planning reasons that are fundamentally incapable of mitigation and that the existing conditions are maintained for the reasons set out below:

  • The proposal would seriously undermine the UK’s stated commitment to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and would thus demonstrably not contribute to sustainable development.
  • The proposal would detrimentally affect the quality of life in the locality to an unacceptable degree and thus fail to contribute to sustainable development and be in conflict with adopted and emerging planning policy.
  • The Environmental Statement is unreliable and inadequate in a number of material respects and as a result fails to demonstrate that the proposal would meet the criteria set out in the Development Plan.
  • The impacts generated by the proposal in its entirety, individually and cumulatively, would give rise to unacceptable deterioration in public health, surface access, economic and social conditions and would thus not meet the standards required by the structure plan policy BIW7.
  • The proposal anticipates that its implementation would contribute to a breach in 2010 of the legislative standards that will then apply under the EU Air Quality Directive.
  • The proposal would have significant detrimental effects on the local, regional and national economies, contrary to planning policy.

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