Stansted will fight if Gatwick & Heathrow both get new runways – as they did not get opportunity to make their case

Amid rumours that the government might be intending to approve runway plans for both Heathrow and Gatwick, rather than just one or other, the owner of Stansted – Manchester Airports Group – says it would launch a legal challenge if that happened.  They say the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, only fully examined the case for one new runway to be built before 2030. That is what its final report in July 2015 recommended. The Commission was aware that within CO2 constraints, it would be difficult to justify adding a 2nd runway.  It said any case for a 2nd new runway would “need to be closely scrutinised in the light of climate-change policy”.However, it concluded two runways might be needed to if air travel demand by 2050 was to be met, and that could be assessed later on.  Tim Hawkins, MAG’s corporate affairs director, said that MAG would have to legally challenge because other airports had not been given the opportunity to present their own cases for the second phase of UK airport expansion post-2030.  If there were to be two new runways approved, there would need to be a whole new process before government could make that decision. That would also include the loser this time round (Heathrow or Gatwick). Stansted did not put forward a case for a new runway to the Commission in 2012-13, as its single runway was nowhere near full.

Stansted promises fight if Gatwick and Heathrow both get new runways

Manchester Airports Group, which owns Stansted, says it will launch legal challenge if runways are approved at both rivals

By  Political reporter (Guardian)

The owner of Stansted and Manchester airports, the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), is prepared to mount a legal challenge against the government if Theresa May approves the building of new runways at Gatwick and Heathrow next week.

There has been speculation that ministers could take a surprise decision to give the green light to expansion at both airports on Tuesday, prompting Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to say it would fight the government in court.

MAG, which owns Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, said the Airports Commission’s 2015 report by Sir Howard Davies had only fully examined the case for one new runway to be built before 2030, though it had concluded two would be needed to fulfil demand by 2050.

Tim Hawkins, MAG’s corporate affairs director, told the Guardian his group would have no choice but to challenge the government if it decided to approve new runways at both Gatwick and Heathrow, because other airports had not been given the opportunity to present their own cases for the second phase of UK airport expansion post-2030.

Any decision to press ahead with both runways would be a major concern for other London and regional airports, Hawkins said. “If the government tries to make a decision about a second new runway at this point, we would almost certainly object, including by way of legal challenge,” he said.

“The government would put us in a position where we basically had no choice.

“We’re very clear there’s no evidence for the government to make a decision about more than one new runway. It’s going to need to run a further process before it can make that decision.”

Calls for the government to commit to expansion of both airports have grown in recent weeks, including from the boss of Monarch airline group and editorials in both the Sun and the London Evening Standard.

On Thursday, the trade publication New Civil Engineer reported it understood Downing Street was poised to give the nod to expansion at Heathrow immediately and also allow Gatwick to expand with a second runway within the next five years, as well as calling for an advancement of expansion plans at Birminghamairport. However, there was no additional detail to back up the assertion in the report.

Earlier on Friday, George Osborne said the economic case to build a new runway at the west London airport instead of Gatwick was “overwhelming” and that Heathrow expansion should be prioritised over Gatwick “or else, in practice, nothing will get built”.

In a series of tweets, the former chancellor said it was time for a decision and it had to be Heathrow, to connect with the “northern powerhouse” and ensure the UK was open to global trade. He added: “If we want Britain to be outward-looking, free-trading and global, we must expand the great airport that connects us to that world and that trade.”

The Airports Commission reported (P 34) that there was “likely to be sufficient demand to justify a second additional runway by 2050 or, in some scenarios, earlier”, though it said such further expansion would not necessarily be justified on environmental grounds.

The commission said that it would be “premature” for it to consider post-2030 expansion plans, and cautioned that any new cases for additional expansion still “need to be closely scrutinised in the light of climate-change policy”.

Tim Hawkins, MAG’s corporate affairs director, said the Davies commission’s focus on the first phase of expansion meant its research had “excluded a whole load of options that could be relevant for the period post-2030”.

“It hasn’t provided any evidence to government to be able to make a decision about those options,” he said.

“We’ve been really clear and consistent on this point with government and the commission and other stakeholders throughout the process, that this is a major concern to us – that this process that was focused on the period before 2030 but now the shortlist from this process could somehow be used to decide on a second new runway as well.”

The government has thus far played down the possibility of building both runways, with the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, telling the Conservative party conference that building both was “not legally straightforward”.

However, in his response, the aviation minister, Lord Ahmad, appeared to scotch rumours of dual expansion, telling the House of Lords that “the commission reported back on the need to increase capacity by 2030 with the addition of one runway in the south-east, and that is where the government’s decision is focused”.

Any decision on airport expansion is likely to face considerable legal obstacles. On Tuesday, May’s local authority in her Maidenhead constituency revealed it is prepared to spend £50,000 on a judicial review if her government approves the expansion of Heathrow. 



See earlier:

Stansted plans to start discussions with government in a couple of years about a 2nd runway

Not to be outdone by the hopes of Heathrow and Gatwick to get another runway, Stansted is getting in on the act, and saying they will be wanting a runway in due course too. Stansted was not assessed by the Airports Commission, as Stansted had no need of a new runway, being far below capacity. The Airports Commission partly understood that, to even try to keep within the carbon cap for aviation of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, the addition of one runway would be difficult [it risks UK carbon targets] but it still suggested that by 2040, even if building a runway by 2030, another would be “needed.” Stansted has said in the past that it would like a 2nd runway some time after 2035. Its owners, MAG, are now saying that it will “need” another runway earlier than that. Though they appreciate that there is likely to be a dip in demand for air travel for several years, due to Brexit, they are still keen on adding a runway. MAG’s CEO Charlie Cornish has told the Times: “We will be at capacity some time between 2025 and 2030, so in the next two to three years we will need to start having the appropriate dialogue with the government over the need for a second runway [at Stansted].” MAG repeatedly says the existing runway capacity at Stansted must be fully utilised, including improving its rail links.

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MAG CEO, Charlie Cornish, says Stansted might press for a 2nd runway by the mid-2020s

Stansted aims to submit plans for a new runway some time in the next decade, according to Charlie Cornish, the CEO of parent company Manchester Airports Group.  He says the present expansion rates meant that Stansted would apply to the government for the repeal of existing local council limits and then lobby for a 2nd runway to satisfy demand. Stansted hope its projected rate of growth between now and the mid -2020s will see it pass through its local authority-capped capacity of 35 million passengers per year, and hit its physical capacity on one runway of 45 million by 2030.  In October 2008, the Government gave approval for Stansted to increase its permitted passenger numbers from 25 to 35 million per year, and a rise in the permitted number of annual flights from 241,000 to 264,000. Mr Cornish wants better rail connections to London and to the other airports. Having fallen for years, ever since the peak at  over 23.7 million in 2007, Stansted’s number of passengers is still well down, at 17.8 million in 2013, though the number has risen significantly during 2014.