26th October 2018

Proof if proof were needed

The recommendation by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) planning officers, published on 22 October, that the current airport planning application should be approved, will not surprise anyone who has followed UDC’s handling of this airport planning application from the beginning.

As far back as July 2017 – before the application was even submitted – UDC planning officers and senior UDC leaders were openly discussing concessions that might be extracted from Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted Airport, in return for approving the application.

The officers’ report is little more than a rehash of MAG’s planning statement with no attempt made to challenge the many unsubstantiated and misleading claims made in the planning application. UDC planning officers haven’t even bothered to check the many wholly implausible assumptions made by MAG which allow it to claim that there would be no significant adverse impacts if the application is approved.

If ever proof were needed that the current airport planning application should be subjected to expert scrutiny at national level, rather than dealt with locally, this superficial, inadequate and inaccurate report by UDC planning officers provides all the proof that could ever be asked for.

If the application were to be approved it would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to last year, and yet UDC planning officers conclude as follows:

“The application is accompanied with [sic] an Environmental Statement which demonstrates the applicant’s case that the proposals represent sustainable development and would not result in significant adverse impacts.”

The conclusion is virtually a repetition of the claim made by MAG in June 2017: “… no significant adverse environmental effects are predicted as a consequence of the proposed development”.

The reality is that approval would – over the course of the next ten years – result in more noise misery for thousands of local residents, more traffic congestion and gridlock on our roads and more irreparable damage to the natural environment, both locally and globally.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented “Fortunately, the final decision will be made not by UDC officers, but by our elected local councillors on the UDC Planning Committee. We must now put our faith in our elected representatives to do the right thing for the present generation of Uttlesford residents and for generations to follow. We need to trust our councillors to act not only in the interests of local residents, including those beyond Uttlesford, but also to have regard to the long term environmental consequences of the decision they are being asked to make.”



  • The officers’ report can be found here.
  • SSE will be making a 40-minute slide presentation on the airport planning application to UDC councillors at 6.00pm on Wednesday 7th November at the UDC offices in Saffron Walden.
  • SSE’s submissions to UDC on the current airport planning application can be found here.
  • SSE continues to pursue a High Court challenge aimed at transferring the responsibility for determining this planning application from UDC to the Secretary of State. If UDC were to approve the MAG planning application before the outcome of these legal proceedings is known, that approval would be overturned if SSE’s action is ultimately successful.


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