29th November 2002

Victory in the High Court – but the fight against Stansted expansion goes on

Fresh from victory in the High Court, Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Norman Mead has vowed that the campaign group will continue the fight against the government’s proposals to add further runways at Stansted and to stand firm with others in the south east who are opposed to further development of inland airports.

The pledge came after the Secretary of State, Alistair Darling, announced his decision effectively to restart the consultation in January and not to appeal against the ruling that his airport consultation was unfair and irrational because he had failed to include Gatwick within the consultation.

Said Norman Mead: “We are determined to prove once and for all that Stansted is a wholly unsuitable location for further runways and will use this time to good effect, building on the many thousands of letters and consultation questionnaires already submitted by local people. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that the government’s incompetence will cause a further six months of uncertainty and we condemn the Secretary of State’s ill-advised decision earlier this year to exclude Gatwick from the original consultation because of the worry which this restart will inevitably cause to many people.”

On Tuesday (26 November) Mr Justice Maurice Kay had ruled in favour of Norman Mead and David Fossett, the Takeley resident who, like hundreds of others, stands to lose his home if extra runways are constructed at Stansted. Mr Mead and Mr Fossett were co-plaintiffs with Essex and Kent County Councils and Medway Council, all of whom were successful in their claims that the consultation was fundamentally flawed by the exclusion of Gatwick.

The government is now planning to issue an additional consultation document in mid to late January adding Gatwick to the options already under consideration for the south east. While everyone’s comments made to date will be taken into account, people will have a further opportunity to comment or modify what they have already said.

Continued Norman Mead: “We don’t intend to let the government off the hook lightly. It has to stop trying to play pass-the-parcel with the people of the south east – and stop dilly-dallying about.  The people of Gatwick don’t want extra runways any more than we do. What is needed is a sustainable solution which forces the industry to pay its environmental way and which considers the merits of the innovative solutions we are seeing in a number of countries around the world – Japan, Singapore, Italy and South Korea, for example – where offshore airports have proved an effective answer to providing round the clock flights with minimal impact to those on the mainland.”

“Our members – who now number over 2500 individuals and over 60 parish councils and special interest societies – are looking to us to win this battle, as are many hundreds of thousands more who will be badly affected by development if it goes ahead. We will continue to work to keep people informed about how they can contribute to the consultation and ensure that their voices are heard over the coming months,” he concluded. A full programme is currently being developed to support this.

It remains to be confirmed whether new consultation questionnaires are to be published, although Stop Stansted Expansion will continue to press for this given the inordinate number of inaccuracies in the original document and also the need to ensure the focus is taken off Stansted in questionnaires issued for other parts of the UK.

The Aviation White Paper is not expected to appear before late 2003.

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