18th December 2013
Huge sigh of relief but it’s not over yet
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed huge relief that Stansted has not been short-listed by the Airports Commission as a potential location for an additional runway or runways to meet future aviation demand in the South East.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: “This is exactly the outcome that the entire SSE team has been working so hard to achieve all year. In truth, however, keeping Stansted off the shortlist was more than we dared hope for – but it is absolutely the right outcome. The environmental consequences of even one extra runway would have been catastrophic and there has never been a viable business case for any extra runways at Stansted.”
Stansted is currently operating at less than half of its potential capacity. In addition, it has no long-haul flights and it primarily caters for outbound leisure travel by UK residents rather than the business market, and low-cost carriers Ryanair and easyJet account for over 90% of its passengers. These were all important considerations for the Airports Commission which is strongly focused on supporting UK economic growth and the UK’s global air connectivity.
Unfortunately, the Airports Commission has not completely ruled out an extra runway at Stansted. The Commission has said that its final report, which will be published in mid-2015, after the next General Election, will consider whether a second Stansted runway might be a plausible option in the 2040s.
Peter Sanders continued: “We must continue to engage fully with the Commission over the next eighteen months because we don’t just want to win a reprieve for this generation but also for generations to follow. In the meantime, Stansted Airport still owns some 270 homes in the vicinity of the airport which it bought with a second runway in mind. We now expect to see a phased sale of these properties back onto the market. That would bring some peace of mind and confidence to the local community, which has had to live with the threat of major expansion at Stansted for far too long.”
Ultimately, it is not the Airports Commission which will make the final decisions, but the next Government, during the latter half of 2015. “It will therefore be another two years before we can even think of letting our guard down”, Peter Sanders concluded.
SSE also announced today that it has notified the Commission that it is ending its Judicial Review challenge and will not now be seeking leave to take the case to the Court of Appeal.