Stansted trying to bully council in fight to hike airport passenger numbers, says campaign group

A plane comes in to land at Stansted

Friday, September 20, 2019

Campaigners have accused Stansted Airport of bullying in its bid to increase passenger numbers at the site.
The airport operators have applied for planning permission to raise the number of passengers travelling through Stansted from 35 million to 43 million a year, a move backed by Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee in November last year before the full council chose to re-examine the proposals with reference to UK Carbon Net Zero 2050 legislation (see here).
However, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says: “In recent weeks business leaders representing local Chambers of Commerce and Visit East of England have issued press releases accusing UDC of causing economic damage to the region as a result of the council’s decision to re-examine the 43mppa planning application.
“It is abundantly clear from the content of these press releases that they are based on briefing material provided by Stansted Airport.”
The SSE campaigners continue: “The suggestion that the council’s decision to review the latest Stansted Airport planning application is putting ‘thousands of jobs at risk’ is preposterous.
“Stansted Airport handled fewer than 28 million passengers last year and it has permission to handle 35 million. The airport’s own assessment is that it won’t reach the current 35 million limit for at least four years.
“Moreover, the contribution of Stansted Airport to the regional business economy is not at all clear.
“Regarding Stansted’s alleged contribution to the tourism industry in the East of England, the airport caters for more than twice as many UK tourists travelling abroad compared to the number of foreign tourists coming into the UK.
“Stansted’s main employment impact is therefore to provide jobs for hotel, catering and leisure workers in holiday destinations such as Tenerife and Torremolinos, rather than in the East of England.
“More fundamentally, Stansted Airport is already the biggest single source of carbon emissions in the East of England and the risks posed to business, and the population at large, by climate change are of a far greater magnitude than the benefits which would accrue from a few million more holiday flights.”
Brian Ross, SSE deputy chairman, concluded: “Stansted Airport and its friends in the business community need to get real – both in relation to the dubious economic benefits of expanding Stansted Airport and the far-reaching environmental consequences.
“They should also desist from seeking to bully and intimidate the democratically elected local council members who have a responsibility to consider the wider picture, not only narrow commercial interests.
“It’s a bit rich now for Stansted Airport’s friends in the business community to be asking the Secretary of State to intervene. SSE has argued from the very beginning that this planning application should be determined nationally rather than locally. That remains our position.
“We will be delighted if the Secretary of State finally decides to take responsibility for determining this application, which would have the added benefit of saving us the expense of a legal challenge.”