2002 – Present

July 2002 –  Department for Transport launched its national consultation “The future development of air transport in the UK”, including options for up to 4 runways at Stansted, in the “South East Regional Air Services Study” (SERAS) section.

Aug 2002 –  Stop Stansted Expansion campaign launched – 800 attended first public meeting at Stansted Mountfitchet School.

Sep 2002 –  Runway Ramble and Rally at Easton Lodge attracted 2,000 participants.

Nov 2002 –  89% of Uttlesford residents voted for no more runways in a poll that saw 69% of ballot papers returned.

Nov 2002 –  London march and rally in Trafalgar Square against airport expansion, led by Jamie Oliver, organised by SSE and supported by campaign groups from Cliffe, Heathrow, Luton and Rugby.

Nov 2002 –  Following a judicial review challenge by SSE and others Justice Maurice Kay ruled the Department for Transport consultation to be unfair and ordered a fresh consultation.

2002 –  Stansted handled 16 million passengers, three times as many as in 1997.

Jan 2003 –  Uttlesford District Council (‘UDC’) controversially approved further expansion of Stansted Airport to allow a throughput of up to 25 million passengers per annum (mppa), as requested by BAA. A consequence of this was that the ruling party at UDC was ousted at the local elections in May 2003.

Feb 2003 –  Department for Transport re-launched Airports Consultation, including options for expansion at Gatwick.

Dec 2003 –  Government published the Air Transport White Paper, with policy support for a second Stansted runway. SSE pledged to continue the fight.

Sep 2004 –  BAA stopped issuing free parking passes to MPs and MEPs following shareholder pressure stimulated by SSE which had established a 170-strong shareholder group and used this to put pressure on BAA.

Feb 2005 –  Judicial Review of Air Transport White Paper initiated by SSE and others concluded that 2003 Air Transport White Paper went too far in specifying the location for a second Stansted runway.

April 2006 – BAA submits planning application to UDC seeking removal of the 25mppa planning cap at Stansted Airport, which had been agreed by UDC just three years earlier. The new application is seeking approval to maximise use of the Stansted runway without any numerical cap.

June 2006 –  Takeover of BAA by an overseas consortium headed by Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial.

November 2006 –  UDC rejects BAA’s application for removal of the 25 million annual limit on the number of passengers using the airport. BAA appealed against the decision on the following day.

May-October 2007 –  Five month Public Inquiry following BAA’s appeal against UDC’s rejection of unlimited passenger throughput on the Stansted runway. The global leader of the Inuit nation, Aqqaluk Lynge, travelled from his home in Greenland to give evidence on Climate Change on behalf of SSE.

2007 –  Passenger numbers peaked at 24 million – a level which would not be reached again until 2016.

2007 –  UK suffered a record £19.4 billion trade deficit on air travel, up from just £2 billion in 1995.

March 2008 –  BAA submitted planning application for a second runway.

October 2008 –  Government approves increase from 25 to 35 million passengers per annum (‘mppa’) on Stansted’s existing runway.

March 2009 –  High Court rejects SSE’s challenge of Government’s approval of an increased 35mppa cap for Stansted but SSE launches an immediate appeal.

March 2009 –  Competition Commission ruled that BAA must sell Gatwick, then Stansted, and then either Edinburgh or Glasgow within two years.

April 2009 –  Following pressure from SSE the planned start date for the Public Inquiry into BAA’s planning application for a second Stansted runway was postponed by Government just five weeks before it was due to begin.

June 2009 – Court of Appeal refuses SSE request for a review of the 35mppa approval but clarifies important aspects of the original unsatisfactory High Court ruling in a manner helpful to SSE’s case against a second Stansted runway.

December 2009 –  Competition Appeal Tribunal upholds BAA’s appeal against Competition Commission ruling on the grounds of apparent conflict of interest.

February 2010 –  Secretary of State John Denham announced public inquiry into second runway could not start before General Election and asked BAA to advise him of its intentions.

May 2010 – BAA withdraws its application for a second runway at Stansted.

October 2010 –  Court of Appeal over-ruled the Dec 2009 decision by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

February 2011 –  Supreme Court ruled that BAA could not take its challenge any further.

July 2011 –  Competition Commission confirmed, after a review, that its 2009 decision was still valid and that BAA must sell Stansted by December 2012.

December 2011 –  BAA, having found another avenue for appealing against the Competition Commission’s ruling that it must sell Stansted, takes it case back to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

Jan 2012 –  BAA agreed to sell all residential property acquired as part of its strategy for further airport expansion.

February 2012 –  Competition Appeals Tribunal rejects BAA’s latest appeal over the forced sale of Stansted. BAA decides to go to the Court of Appeal.

July/August 2012 –  Court of Appeal rejects BAA’s latest appeal over the forced sale of Stansted. BAA announces it will take its case to the Supreme Court but changes its mind four weeks later, concedes defeat and puts Stansted up for sale.

2011/2012 –  Second Stansted runway expected to be open, according to the 2003 Air Transport White Paper.

September 2012 –  Government sets up ‘Airports Commission’, chaired by Sir Howard Davies. Its remit is “to identify and evaluate how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term”. The Commission is given until the summer of 2015 to complete its work and publish its final report.

October 2012 –  SSE submits its response to the Government’s Draft Aviation Policy Framework.

October 2012 –  The name BAA is dropped and Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Southampton and Stansted Airports operate solely under their own stand-alone brands.

December 2012 –  The CAA announced that Stansted Airport should continue to be subject to economic regulation – an outcome for which SSE had pressed consistently.

February 2013 –  Stansted Airport is sold to Manchester Airports Group.

December 2013 –  Airports Commission publishes its Interim Report. Stansted is not on the short-list of options for a new runway in the period to 2030. However, the Commission warns that “Stansted may be a plausible option for any second additional runway in the 2040s”.

July 2014 –  SSE makes its tenth evidence submission to the Airports Commission, responding to the Commission’s discussion paper on improving the utilisation of the UK’s existing airport capacity, and dealing with issues relating to Stansted.

May 2015 – Manchester Airports Group publishes a ‘Sustainable Development Plan’ for Stansted setting out proposals for expansion up to 45mppa by 2030.

July 2015 – Airports Commission publishes its Final Report with the main recommendation that there should be a third runway at Heathrow.

October 2016 – After mulling over the Final Report of the Airports Commission for 15 months, the Government endorses its recommendations and announces that it will in due course present the proposal for a third Heathrow runway to the House of Commons for final approval.

June 2017 – MAG begins the pre-application process for its proposals for increased use of the existing Stansted runway. SSE begins the process of scrutiny, analysis and challenge.

February 2018 – MAG submits a planning application seeking permission for Stansted to be allowed to handle 43 million passengers per annum (‘mppa’) compared to the existing limit of 35mppa.

June 2018 – House of Commons supports proposals for a third Heathrow runway by 415 votes to 119.

November 2018 – By the narrowest of margins, i.e. the casting vote of the Chairman of the Planning Committee, UDC resolves to approve the Stansted Airport 43mppa Planning Application. SSE vows to continue to challenge the 43mppa Application through the planning process and in the courts.

May 2019 – Local UDC elections result in a change of control with a landslide victory for the local residents party (‘R4U’).

June 2019 – The largest ever petition in the history of UDC leads to a near unanimous decision by the Council to reconsider key elements of the November 2018 approval for the Stansted Airport Planning Application.

January 2020 – As a result of representations from SSE and others highlighting material changes in circumstances, UDC Planning Committee overturns its November 2018 decision and resolves to refuse the Stansted Airport Planning Application by a margin of 10 votes to nil. MAG has six months to decide whether or not to appeal.

March 2020 – Covid-19 brings Stansted Airport to a virtual standstill.

April 2020 –  Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (‘ONS’) show that the UK suffered a record £33.9 billion trade deficit on international air travel in 2019. The figures also show that just 9.0 million of the 93.1 million overseas visits by UK residents in 2019 were business-related.

July 2020 – To the dismay of the local community, MAG makes an eleventh-hour announcement that it will appeal against UDC’s January refusal of its 43mppa planning application and will ask the Secretary of State to set up a Public Inquiry to reconsider the application.  This will prolong the uncertainty for possibly another 18 months.

October 2020 – The Inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State announce that a Public Inquiry to consider the MAG planning application for 43mppa will start on 12 January 2021, despite pleas from SSE that it would be reckless to start the Inquiry in the midst of winter and in the midst of a pandemic.

May 2021 – After a Public Inquiry which sat for 30 days between January and March, taking evidence from over 100 witnesses and involving three main parties – MAG, UDC and SSE – the Inspectors upheld MAG’s appeal, thereby granting approval for the expansion of Stansted to 43mppa.  The High Court refused to grant UDC permission to appeal the Inspectors’ ruling.

May 2021 – Stop Stansted Expansion is succeeded by Stansted Airport Watch.

December 2021 – Stansted Airport’s passenger traffic continued to be decimated by Covid-19.  The airport handled just 7.1 million passengers in the 12 months to 31 December 2021, compared to a throughput of 28.1 million passengers in 2019, i.e. prior to the pandemic.

June 2022 – There was a strong recovery in Stansted Airport’s passenger traffic during the first six months of 2022, pointing to a throughput of about 24 million passengers in 2022.


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