17th July 2006

SSE Exposes ‘Lies and Deception’ in BAA Planning Application

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has today (17 July 2006) delivered a 230 page report to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) setting out its formal response to BAA’s planning application for an additional 80,000 flights a year at Stansted Airport over current levels and for the removal of the current 25 million ceiling on annual passenger numbers.

The report concludes that the application should be refused because its proposals are fundamentally incapable of mitigation and calls on UDC to reach a decision based on the balance of evidence and consistent with its statutory duty to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

The two-volume report has been prepared by a team of SSE specialists who have been going through BAA’s planning submission with a fine toothcomb over the past 11 weeks. It is supported by six expert reports provided by independent consultants appointed by SSE to assist in reviewing the 2,000 page application by BAA.

“It has been a mammoth task but it was essential that we examined BAA’s planning application with the utmost thoroughness,” commented Norman Mead, Acting Chairman, SSE. “We suspected from the very beginning that BAA would attempt to play down the environmental impacts of its proposal to double the scale of operations at Stansted but, frankly, we were taken aback to discover such a litany of lies and deception throughout BAA’s assessment of the environmental impacts of its proposals.”

SSE’s detailed examination of BAA’s documentaton also unearthed 48 examples of BAA failing to provide information and/or analysis requested by UDC in November 2004 about the impacts of its expansion proposals. It is perhaps no coincidence that in the great majority of the 48 instances disclosure of these impacts would almost certainly been unhelpful to BAA’s case [see Note 1].

BAA is suggesting that removal of the limit would ‘only’ result in a 60 percent increase in the scale of Stansted’s current operations from 22 million passengers in 2005 to 35 million in 2014. However, it is clear that if the cap on passenger numbers were to be removed, in line with BAA’s request, the existing Stansted runway would eventually be able to handle 50 million passengers a year – more than double today’s throughput.

BAA is trying to claim, for example, that:

  • A doubling of airport-related road traffic would have no significant impact upon our roads
  • A doubling of airport rail passengers would have no significant impact upon local rail services
  • The additional noise from an extra 80,000 flights a year (by day and night) would have no significant impact on our quality of life
  • The increase in nitrogen oxides and carbon particulates from the additional 80,000 flights a year would have no significant health impacts upon the local population
  • The equivalent of an extra five million tonnes of carbon dioxide is irrelevant because it is not BAA’s responsibility to help tackle climate change [see Note 2]
  • Doubling the airport’s water usage [see Note 3] would have no significant effect upon the rest of us despite the fact that Essex is the driest county in the UK (and getting dryer as a result of climate change) and that thousands of new houses are planned all across the local area
  • An additional £1.8 billion deficit on the UK balance of payments is not an issue because lots of people want to take more cheap flights abroad
  • It would be the responsibility of local councils and not the responsibility of BAA to provide affordable housing for the several thousand additional migrant workers that would be needed to support its expansion plans.

SSE’s detailed examination of BAA’s planning submission exposes how BAA has manipulated the data and in some instances made false and misleading assertions [see Note 4] in its attempts to play down the significance of its expansion proposals.

SSE Campaign Director, Carol Barbone commented: “The manipulation is of such a scale that BAA seems to have assumed Uttlesford District Council and the local community as a whole would be incapable of examining its assumptions and projections in any detail.”

“It is particularly gratifying that the independent consultants commissioned by SSE, each highly-regarded experts in their own fields, have come to very similar conclusions regarding BAA’s manipulation of the data,” she concluded.

A copy of the two volume report and covering letter sent to Uttlesford District Council can be downloaded from this website.


Note 1: See UDC Scoping Opinion of 4 November 2004 available [from SSE upon request (weblink lapsed)]

Note 2: SSE estimates that Stansted airport operations currently produce the equivalent of 7m tonnes of CO2 a year. The basis for this estimate has been independently endorsed.

Note 3: Stansted airport currently uses 715m litres of water a year.

Note 4: For example:
* Misrepresentation of additional aircraft noise impacts
* Misrepresentation of ground noise impacts
* Surface access mode shares manipulated – even official statistics are manipulated
* Manipulation of assumptions for the average number of passengers per aircraft
* Manipulation of assumptions for the number of cargo flights
* Projected increase in foreign visitors is overstated x 2
* Understatement of airport’s water usage
* Misrepresentation of the type of jobs to be created
* Use of outdated data used for critical employment supply side projections

Photographs showing Norman Mead and Carol Barbone delivering the report to UDC are available on request


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