29th June 2003
Terry Waite to lead thousands in Stop Stansted Expansion Protest
Thousands of people will today join Terry Waite CBE, Sir Alan Haselhurst MP and representatives from Stop Stansted Expansion to express their outrage at plans to expand Stansted Airport. The addition of up to three extra runways at the airport would leave hundreds of families homeless and severely compromise the quality of life, environment and the rural character of more than 70 towns and villages.
The display of community solidarity at ‘Vanishing Villages featuring Broxted Open Gardens’ has been mounted to draw attention to both the people and the rich heritage under threat and to send a clear message that expansion at Stansted would be irresponsible in the extreme.
The event is designed around a celebration of the deep rooted culture of the four communities directly threatened by the bulldozers – Brick End and Woodgates End in Broxted and Molehill Green and Bamber’s Green in Takeley. However, many more people in a large radius would also suffer the impacts of noise, gridlocked roads, overcrowded trains and pollution which would be inflicted by an airport up to eight times as large as at present. Life in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and South Cambridgeshire would change radically.
As part of the protest, Broxted residents are opening their gardens to the public to drive home the impact expansion would have on people. Many of the nearby towns and villages which would suffer the impacts of expansion are also taking part in special displays and activities to highlight their shared concerns. There will also be an outdoor photographic gallery of many of the homes, including 65 listed buildings, which would disappear if expansion went ahead.
Said Terry Waite who will conduct the official opening before leading a prayer gathering at the Hostages’ Window of Hope in Broxted Church: “When I first heard of the proposals for the expansion of Stansted Airport I was amazed given the fact that three independent inspectors1 had completely ruled out any further development. The expansion of Stansted would undoubtedly mean that the total character of the area surrounding Stansted would be entirely changed – and very much for the worse.”
“Contrary to what has been reported,” he continued, “I do not live adjacent to the airport and therefore would not be personally directly affected. However it is my firm belief that over time our countryside and rural communities are being ravaged and we will all lose out in the long term as a result.”
The protest comes on the penultimate day of the public consultation being conducted by the government into the future development of air transport in the south east. Proposals for Stansted include adding up to three extra runways to the single runway already in place. Even one extra runway, however, would mean this relatively small ‘airport in the countryside’ would rapidly become larger than Heathrow today, handling up to 85m instead of the present 16m. Full expansion of Stansted would mean capacity for 129m passengers per year.
Over the past year Stop Stansted Expansion has mounted a vociferous campaign to oppose the devastating consequences which expansion would have on health, education, heritage, the environment and transport infrastructure. These have been largely disregarded in the government’s consultation in favour of overstated economic benefits.
Vanishing Villages also includes representation from numerous national and local cultural, heritage, wildlife and environmental organisations which are fiercely opposed expansion. These include the National Trust, Woodland Trust, Council for the Protection of Rural England, Friends of the Earth and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
Said Stop Stansted Expansion campaign director Carol Barbone: “Ripping out the very heart of this and other communities in the name of airport expansion is totally unjustifiable. The government cannot be allowed to uproot whole families and networks of friends and neighbours, destroying the environment and our children’s heritage in the process simply to satisfy the aviation industry’s lust for profit. Expansion at Stansted is something we will fight to the bitter end.”
Organised by Stop Stansted Expansion in conjunction with Broxted Parish Council, Vanishing Villages is supported financially by Saffron Walden Town Council and Uttlesford District Council.
Further information on Stop Stansted Expansion is available from the campaign office on 01279 870558 or this website.
1 Separate public inquiries chaired by Inspector Blake (1966), the Roskill Commission (1970) and Inspector Eyre (1984).