16th June 2003
Write Now – Before it’s Too Late
Stop Stansted Expansion has reported a last minute rush of enquiries from the public asking what can be done to ward off the prospect of an airport up to twice the size of Heathrow.
Calls have been flooding into the office and via this website from concerned individuals realising they are just days away from the end of the June when the Department for Transport’s public consultation into expanding air transport capacity comes to a close.
The advice coming out of Stop Stansted Expansion, meanwhile, is simple, reflecting the views of local MPs Sir Alan Haselhurst and Mark Prisk who say that the best and most powerful way for people to make their voices and views heard is quite simple: write one last letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling. His address is The Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR.
“Even if you’ve written before, write again,” urges Stop Stansted Expansion director Carol Barbone. “It’s essential that we keep on reiterating our opposition to plans to create an airport up to twice the size of Heathrow with the addition of one or more runways at Stansted. Three paragraphs or three pages – it doesn’t matter – just write what you can,” she added.
Asking questions in the letters also helps, according to the campaign’s Parliamentary advisors because it means the government has to give it more attention. Another attention-grabbing device that those who write should employ is to copy the letter to their local MP at The House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA (or call The House of Commons Information Line on 020 7219 4272 to check your MP’s name). This way, MPs can press the contents more forcefully on behalf of constituents in order to raise awareness of concerns even further.
Another useful tool is for each member of the family to write – children, adults and grandparents – each expressing opposition to expansion. It’s the number of letters that counts, not the number of households.
“Once the public consultation ends on 30th June we will need to employ new strategies for getting through to the politicians and civil servants who will be advising them. In the meantime, we don’t have a moment to waste in making our views heard via formal channels,” Carol Barbone concluded. Numerous sample letters and details of points to make when writing to register opposition can be obtained by calling the campaign office on 01279 870558, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or checking this website.
A last minute letter writing point with banks of computers at Brown’s End Cottage on Browns End Road, Broxted will be a feature of the Vanishing Villages event being staged to mark the end of the public consultation period on 29 June (12 noon to 6pm). The campaign group’s 3700 members are also being urged in the latest member mailing to write a last-minute letter before it’s too late.
A sample letter to Alistair Darling appears below for those media who would like to reproduce it:
[XX] June 2003
The Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
LONDON SW1P 4DR
Dear Secretary of State
PROPOSED EXPANSION OF STANSTED AIRPORT
I am writing to ask you to reject proposals for any additional runways at Stansted Airport.
People are travelling from all over England to fly out on cheap flights from Stansted and I understand that two thirds of all UK air travel is now concentrated on airports in the South East.
It is unacceptable that the people who live near Stansted and other airport communities in the South East have to bear such a large share of the noise, pollution and development associated with the growth in air travel. At the same time, people from other parts of the UK are complaining that they cannot obtain flights from their local airports.
Surely it is time to develop a better regional balance between demand and supply. This would also assist in bringing employment to those parts of the country which need new jobs rather than to those parts of the country where there is no shortage of jobs.
I am sending a copy of this letter to my local MP.