28th October 2003

Summit Meeting held with Transport Minister

A joint delegation comprising Stop Stansted Expansion representatives and Uttlesford Councillors held a high level meeting in Whitehall earlier this week (Monday 27 October) with Transport Minister Tony McNulty. Local MPs were also present in a show of community solidarity.

The meeting was timed to provide an opportunity to summarise and press home the case against building a second runway at Stansted prior to final decisions being made for the government’s White Paper, expected in December.

“As expected the Minister played his cards very close to his chest” said Uttlesford District Council Leader Cllr Alan Dean, “but he could not fail to have been impressed by the power of the arguments we presented to him. He freely acknowledged the energy of the local campaign and commented on the weight of correspondence and evidence he and other Ministers had received over a period of more than a year from those opposed to Stansted expansion.”

The delegation pressed the Minister on five key issues: environmental impacts, local infrastructure, regional balance, economic arguments and local public opinion. “We wanted to focus our case around these particular points,” said SSE Campaign Director, Carol Barbone. “The Minister commented that our campaign had been the strongest of all those waged by communities threatened by expansion. We now need to keep up the pressure right down to the wire.”

As decision time draws near it is understood that the debate about new runways in the South East is causing serious divisions within the government. “This is definitely going to be a close call,” said Alan Dean. “Maintaining the pressure including letters from the public to MPs and Ministers over the next few weeks might just tip the balance and help save this community from devastation.”News of a rift between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was also discussed – “I asked Mr McNulty to comment on reports that the Prime Minister views Stansted as the least damaging option in party political terms,” said Alan Dean. As expected, Tony McNulty denied the recent reports in the national press. Nevertheless, the UDC and SSE team personally delivered a letter to 10 Downing Street following the meeting at the Department for Transport to formally present their concerns to the Prime Minister.

The delegation comprised Cllrs Alan Dean, Elizabeth Godwin and Peter Wilcock for UDC; Carol Barbone, Brian Ross and Peter Sanders for SSE; and local MPs Sir Alan Haselhurst, Oliver Heald and Mark Prisk.

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