11th March 2003

Feedback on ‘Green’ Letter Writing Campaign

Stop Stansted Expansion’s ‘green’ letter writing campaign has caused a stir at the very heart of government following a flood of letters from local people concerned about the government’s expansion plans for Stansted Airport and their impact on the environment.

According to local MPs who were copied into the lobbying letters to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), at least 300 people are known to have written to Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for the Environment during the campaign group’s month-long initiative in February. Many more are also believed to have written to the Secretary of State without informing their MPs, adding to the pressure on the Department to wake up to what might happen.

However, while Margaret Beckett initially tried to ignore her responsibilities towards the environment – she passed almost all the letters over to the Secretary of State for Transport on the basis that it was ‘his’ consultation and even turned down a request from Sir Alan Haselhurst on behalf of Stop Stansted Expansion for a face-to-face meeting – there are encouraging signs that she may be sticking up for those opposed to airport expansion after all.

Said Norman Mead, Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion: “When we launched the green letter writing campaign, we explained that its purpose was to encourage Margaret Beckett to wake-up and start fighting her corner. We particularly wanted her to take her environmental responsibilities seriously and to start challenging Alistair Darling about the sustainability of his airport expansion proposals.”

“Already, there is evidence that this may be beginning to happen,” he continued – a reference to national newspaper remarks in the first week of March about the launch of the Energy White Paper which drew attention to the contradictions between the government’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 and the Department for Transport’s plans for aviation expansion which would significantly retard overall progress. DEFRA sources were quoted as saying that “with the Energy White Paper, there is no way that the DfT can sanction unlimited increases in aviation. The rules have just changed.” (The Guardian, 5 March)

The news, say campaigners, augurs well for the remainder of the relaunched consultation which will run until 30th June. “Making our views known strongly and clearly to the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, is essential if we are to persuade him of the folly of expanding Stansted Airport,” stressed Norman Mead. “We’re recommending that people write to Alistair Darling as soon as possible – even if they’ve already written during the original consultation period – copying these letters to their MPs so that the Secretary of State can be given an extra push from his Parliamentary colleagues.”

People should write to The Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR, with a copy to their local MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.

A briefing on questions to put to Alistair Darling plus sample letters on a range of topics covering Demand Management, Offshore, Noise, Questionnaires, Global Warming, Economics, Tourism, M11 – Roads, Environment, Rail alternatives, are available on request. Contact the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign office on T 01279 870558, by email on info@stopstanstedexpansion.com or download copies from this website at www.stopstanstedexpansion.com.

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