6th October 2003
SSE Campaign Moves into Overdrive
With less than ten weeks remaining before the government is due to publish its airport expansion White Paper, campaigners have moved into overdrive to press home the case against a second runway at Stansted.
Following the great success of the Horseshoes Hike protest walk, campaigners Carol Barbone and James Drewer from Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) went straight down to Bournemouth to the Labour Party Conference to target senior members of the government in person.
The anti-airport expansion messages were driven home to Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling and Transport Minister Tony McNulty at four separate meetings at the conference. Informal encounters with both ministers, meanwhile, revealed that each was fully aware of the vociferous campaign being organised by the Stansted community.
News of the strength of opposition to developing Stansted Airport also reached thousands of conference delegates thanks to the support of volunteers who distributed thousands of ‘branded’ beer mats across every bar and hotel lounge at the event. The aim was to remind those taking a break from conference activities that 89 per cent of people in Uttlesford have said ‘no’ to extra runways. One government minister even handed a mat to the husband of one of SSE’s most ardent campaigners Maggie Sutton, remarking on the excellent exposure that the campaign was receiving.
Meanwhile, another member of the campaign Brian Ross made Stansted’s presence felt at an a top level airports policy meeting of the influential Adam Smith Institute (ASI) in the House of Commons. The audience included senior aviation industry officials, politicians, academics and journalists who were presented with a range of economic as well as environmental arguments against expanding Stansted as part of a broader discussion on economic issues relating air transport expansion.
As a result, under-pricing of air travel was identified as a key issue which the ASI will take forward in the development of a submission which it plans to make to government by the end of the month.
SSE has also been stepping up the pressure in Whitehall with a series of presentations and discussions aimed at enlisting the support of other government departments and encouraging them to challenge the proposals put forward by BAA and the Department for Transport for expanding Stansted. A formal meeting with Tony McNulty and his advisors is scheduled for later this month.
“It’s exhausting and it’s relentless,” said SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone, “but our arguments are hitting home and we genuinely sense that we are shifting opinion amongst the key decision makers.”