Stop Stansted Expansion asks Government to call in the airport’s expansion plans, or face a JR
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) have written a 36-page letter to the Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajiv Javid MP, asking formally for call-in of the application by Stansted for expansion. They include District Council incompetence, bias and a series of statutory planning grounds, as reasons why the airport’s expansion plans should be determined nationally – rather than locally by Uttlesford District Council (UDC). SSE has also made clear that refusal by the Secretary of State to call-in the application will trigger an application for Judicial Review in the High Court. SSE is concerned that UDC has taken a blinkered approach to the rules for considering the application in its desire to do the airport’s bidding. UDC sees potential gain for itself, even though the planned expansion would be at the expense of not only the Uttlesford villages and market towns it is meant to serve, but communities further afield in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. SSE’s barrister, a planning expert Paul Stinchcombe QC of 39 Essex Chambers has identified that UDC has erred in law in its interpretation of the rules by not recognising the application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. If the Stansted application was approved, it would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to 2017.
CALL-IN THE STANSTED AIRPORT APPLICATION –
OR WE’LL SEE YOU IN COURT, SSE TELLS GOVERNMENT
19.3.2018 (SSE – Stop Stansted Expansion)
District Council incompetence, bias and a series of statutory planning grounds have been put to the Government as reasons why Stansted Airport expansion plans should be determined nationally rather than locally.
The criticisms come in a 36-page letter formally asking for call-in of the application, sent today (19 March) by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajiv Javid MP.
SSE has also made clear that refusal by the Secretary of State to call-in the application will trigger an application for Judicial Review in the High Court.
The request for call-in highlights SSE’s concerns that local planning authority Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has taken a blinkered approach to the rules for considering the application in its desire to do the airport’s bidding.
The Council sees potential gain for its local agenda from the application, even though this would be at the expense of not only the Uttlesford villages and market towns it is meant to serve, but communities further afield in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire who would, for example, suffer the impacts of increased aircraft noise and air pollution, and pressures on the road and rail networks, resulting from further expansion.
A legal reading of the legislation for SSE by leading planning barrister Paul Stinchcombe QC of 39 Essex Chambers has identified that Uttlesford has erred in law in its interpretation of the rules by not recognising the application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
Stansted Airport’s owners, Manchester Airports Group, are seeking to build extra taxiways and aircraft stands and to increase the passenger throughput at Stansted to 43 million passengers per annum (mppa). By comparison, Stansted handled 25.9 mppa last year. If the application were approved, it would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to 2017.
SSE is also highly critical of the attempt to drive the planning application through as quickly as possible under an agreement between MAG and UDC whereby MAG pays the Council a substantial sum (£117,781 + VAT) in return for a fast track service, and no doubt what MAG hopes will be a favourable decision.
SSE’s letter to the Secretary of State refers to this agreement between MAG and UDC because, apart from limiting the time allowed for scrutiny and local consultation, the attempt to rush the application through could compromise the new over-arching airports policy for the south east currently in development.
As the call-in request makes clear, there is no pressing need for a rushed determination given that the airport already has sufficient capacity for the next five years even on its own forecasts, and for the next 15 years according to the official Government forecasts.
Finally, the poor judgement demonstrated by UDC in its handling of the planning application and consultation arrangements since expansion plans were first mooted last summer has also been detailed in an annex to the letter. Amongst the governance failings and lack of transparency which would seem to indicate UDC’s unsuitability for determining the application, the annex highlights the invidious position of the Council as a leading sponsor and supporter (alongside Stansted Airport) of the London-Stansted-Cambridge Consortium amongst whose goals is securing full use of the airport on economic grounds.
Commenting on the latest development in the expansion debacle, SSE Deputy Chairman Brian Ross said: “Uttlesford District Council has shown an appalling disregard for community interests and concerns with its ‘cash for favours’ deal with the owners of Stansted Airport not even allowing adequate time for proper scrutiny of this planning application or for local views to be aired. It has reached a point where we no longer have any confidence in the Council’s ability to carry out a fair and thorough deliberation of this planning application.”
MAKE YOUR VIEWS KNOWN
If you would like to comment on this Stansted Airport planning application, use this link and click the Make a Comment button. If you wish to object, please say in your own words why you object. This will carry far more weight than the electronically-generated standard emails which the owners of Stansted Airport are using to persuade staff, customers and suppliers to flood UDC with posts supporting the application.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A copy of the letter to the Secretary of State can be accessed here.
More information about Stansted Airport’s planning application to Uttlesford District Council can be found here(Scroll down for the application).
Stop Stansted Expansion critical of airport expansion application, bypassing local authority scrutiny
Stansted Airport has applied to increase the current cap on annual passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million passengers, in what campaigners say is a ‘sweetheart’ deal with local planning authorities to avoid government scrutiny. The application to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) seeks permission to increase the use of its single runway over the next 10 years. However, the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group said the application was misleading in claiming that further expansion of the airport would have no significant environmental impacts. SSE said it was “profoundly concerned at the lengths Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is prepared to go to to avoid scrutiny by secretary of State by amending passenger numbers” as they are trying to keep the expansion to 8 million, rather than 10 million, passengers – avoiding the application being dealt with as a major infrastructure project. SSE said it understands that in return for local planning approval from the district council, MAG might make financial contributions to help fund local road schemes and other local projects in the delivery of the local plan. SSE said: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that a 44% increase in the number of flights and a 66% increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads.”
Stansted applies to UDC to raise the current passenger number cap from 35 mppa to 43 mppa
Stansted airport has submitted a planning application to Uttlesford District Council to raise the current cap on the number of passengers it is permitted to handle from 35 million passengers per annum (mppa) to 43mppa, while committing to remain within current approved limits on aircraft noise and flight numbers. This is to make best use of the airport’s existing single runway over the next decade (with the usual claims of economic benefits, jobs etc etc). Stansted say their expansion, from 35 mppa, would ease pressure on the London airport system when Heathrow and Gatwick are capacity constrained. However, local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), says the airport handled about 25 mppa in 2017, and has permission to grow to 35 mppa, granted after a 5-month public inquiry in 2007. Despite this, in summer 2017 the airport’s owners, MAG, said they “urgently” needed permission to expand to a massive 44.5 million passenger airport over the next 12 years. They claim there will be no more noise, but in practice the gap between planes on average would reduce from about 135 seconds now, to about 85 seconds. SSE says the changes in the current application are “almost entirely presentational.”
Stop Stansted Expansion say Government’s Aviation Forecast figures undermine Stansted’s claims on need for expansion
Claims by Stansted’s management that the airport’s growth potential over the next decade is being severely limited by the present cap on numbers at 35 mppa are being called into question by local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) following the publication of new Government figures. These numbers are in the DfT’s forecasts, published as part of the 2nd consultation on the Airports NPS (ie. Heathrow runway). Stansted’s owners, MAG, predict that it will be completely full by 2023 – and it therefore needs an increase in permitted numbers to be able to accommodate 43 million passengers in 2028. But SSE show that in the new DfT UK Aviation Forecasts, reveal this is wrong. The DfT central forecast for Stansted is that it should expect to handle just 31 million passengers annually by 2030, and 35 million by 2033. Not by 2023. Stansted airport has been talking up the need for further growth – in anticipation of its application for planning permission from Uttlesford District Council in early 2018. And if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, the DfT projects a decline in the number of Stansted passengers – from 24mppa in 2016 to 22mppa in 2030, and just 32 mppa by 2040. SSE say: “MAG’s overstatement of potential demand to secure support for expansion is nothing more than an opportunistic ploy.”
Stansted will hold 3 “community feedback” events on its plans to rise annual passenger number to 43m
Stansted Airport is to host three community feedback events, about its revised proposals for future growth over the next decade. There was an earlier consultation in July about growth plans. The 3 events will provide people with a further opportunity to raise questions about how Stansted intends to grow, the impacts of that growth, and how it could make best use of its existing capacity. Currently Stansted has a planning cap on the annual number of passengers, of 35 million. It initially proposed this being raised to 44.5 million (just under the 10 million rise, that would require it to be dealt with an Nationally Significant Infrastructure project, but a different process) and has now reduced this to 43 million. Stansted claims this could be achieved without increasing the number of aircraft movements (= flights) that are currently permitted to operate each year or the size of the airport’s approved noise ‘footprint’. A key issue for local people who would be affected by the expansion is noise, and just how much that would get, if an extra 8 million passengers per year were permitted. That would require planes being fuller, and also larger planes – which inevitably are noisier than smaller ones, even with new technologies to reduce noise. Stansted will next submit the final planning application to Uttlesford District Council in early 2018.
Stansted Airport lowers growth target from 44.5 million to 43 million per year
Stansted Airport has scaled-back its expansion plans, saying it will achieve is growth ambitions without seeking any increase in the number of flights it is allowed to handle. Stansted current has permission for 35 million passengers per year, while it currently has about 25 million. But the airport said in June that it ‘urgently’ needs the cap to be raised to 44.5 million. Stansted is now saying it wants the cap raised to 43 million, not 44.5 million – and they can accommodate that growth by use of larger planes. They say they can get to 43 million passengers without increasing the noise “footprint” that is already authorised under the current capping arrangements. Stansted is hoping to get a lot of growth in passenger numbers, in the time before (if it ever happens) a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. Stansted hoped to get the growth to 44.5 million passengers, about 9 million more than now, through on a regular planning application – rather than having to go through the more rigorous National Infrastructure process, that would be needed for a 10 million passenger increase. Local campaign Stop Stansted Expansion said: “People shouldn’t be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s spin doctors. The new planning application would still mean an extra 1,800 flights a week compared to today’s levels.” There will now be more feedback sessions by Stansted during November, before a final planning application to Uttlesford Council early in 2018.