1st November 2005

Regional Plan is “unsound and unsustainable”

The culmination of months of work by a team of specialists from Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) will be brought to bear next week at the Examination of the draft East of England Plan at the Examination in Public being held in Ely. SSE welcomes the Plan’s exclusion of a second runway at Stansted, but opposes its proposals for the full use of the existing runway.

Represented by campaign Chairman Peter Sanders, SSE will make a powerful case against the fundamental flaws which underlie the plan, arguing against the full use of the existing runway and resisting pressure from BAA to introduce provision for a second runway.

The main premise of the SSE argument is that the plan is unsound in the context of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and in terms of government guidance. The plan is unrealistic because insufficient Government funding has been promised for the infrastructure provision that would be required for its implementation, putting extreme pressure on an already overburdened road and rail structure within the region.

Furthermore, the plan is unsustainable since it fails to take adequate account of the Sustainability Appraisal Report which was commissioned by the authors of the draft plan, the East of England Regional Assembly. In particular, the report stated that the full use of the existing runway was environmentally unsustainable.

The plan also attaches more importance to economic than to environmental considerations, failing to set stringent and demanding environmental targets as well as the targets for increased housing and jobs.

In anticipation of his appearance at the Examination in Public, Peter Sanders commented: “While the Government has set a target of reducing UK carbon emissions from sources other than aviation by 60% by 2050, during the same period carbon emissions from aviation are forecast to increase more than eightfold. The proposed expansion of Stansted airport is completely inconsistent with Government policy on global warming and BAA should be required to calculate the increase in carbon emissions arising, not just from the expansion of the airport, but from all the developments to which this expansion would give rise.”

The evidence which will be presented on 9 and 10 November form part of Matter 1D on protection of the environment and use of natural resources, focusing on the fact that the Plan does not take an appropriate strategic approach to the protection of the environment. SSE will repeat the finding of EERA’s Sustainability Appraisal Report that the proposed expansion at Stansted to the full use of the existing runway would be unsustainable. It will also spell out the implications in terms of noise, air pollution, health, housing, transport and urbanisation generally.

The representations to be made by SSE next week are the first of three areas on which SSE has been called give evidence. In parallel, SSE has made written submissions on the vision, objectives and parameters of the strategy as well as matters relating to economic growth and participation, social exclusion and quality of life. The group has also been called to speak on 6 December on the regional transport strategy and on 16 February on Stansted and the M11 corridor.

The Government definition of sustainable development is ‘a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come’, and identifies four key objectives which have to be met at the same time if it is to be achieved. These are:

  • Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone
  • Effective protection of the environment
  • Prudent use of natural resources
  • Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment

Graham Eyre, the last Inspector to examine the question of airport expansion at Stansted (in 1984), stated that the expansion of Stansted beyond a single runway with 25 million passengers per annum would be an environmental catastrophe. The provision of a second runway as outlined in the Air Transport White Paper, would destroy 130 properties (including 2 scheduled monuments and 29 Grade II listed buildings), would constitute one of the largest single acts of heritage destruction since WW2.

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