Stansted likely to publish revised expansion plans in first half of 2020
Stansted has announced plans to submit a revised expansion proposal during the first half of 2020. MAG’s new design proposals will replace plans launched in 2016. The revised proposal is understood to contain plans for a new arrivals building. Under the original proposal, expansion was estimated to have been completed by next year. A statement by the airport cited “fluctuating travel, social and economic trends” as a reason for the change in plans, and the “political landscape at a national and local level.” The airport confirmed enabling works are still underway. The arrivals building is one of a number of developments planned at Stansted, including a 3,000 space carpark and baggage system update. Stansted plans to increase its passenger number from 35 million per year, to 43 million. But this is on hold at present, due to a legal challenge by Stop Stansted Expansion. They have evidence that the airport was planning to expand to 50 mppa and intended to do so in two stages: first, by seeking an 8 mppa uplift in the cap, to 43 mppa; and then later seeking a 7 mppa increase to 50 mppa. A court judgement is expected early in the new year.
Stansted Airport to publish revised expansion plans
10 DEC, 2019
BY JOSHUA STEIN (New Civil Engineer)
The operator of London Stansted Airport has announced plans to submit a revised expansion proposal during the first half of next year.
The new design proposals by airport operator Manchester Airports Group (MAG), will replace plans launched in 2016.
The revised proposal is understood to contain plans for a new arrivals building and will be published in full during the first half of 2020.
Under the original proposal, expansion was estimated to have been completed by next year.
A statement by the airport cited “fluctuating travel, social and economic trends” as a reason for the change in plans.
“There is a large number of variables which will influence this work, not least the global and UK economic picture but also political landscape at a national and local level,” the statement read.
Construction work on the airport arrivals building is yet to start, but the airport confirmed enabling works are still underway at the site. The previous plan suggested the arrivals building would cost £130M in total.
The document stressed the new plans would ensure Stansted is “future-proof” when it is complete.
The arrivals building is one of a number of developments planned at Stansted, including a 3,000 space carpark and baggage system update. The airport told New Civil Engineer it had spent £150M developing the transport hub in 2019.
The airport expansion was set to increase the hub’s capacity from 35M to 43M customers a year, but faced a delay after Uttlesford District Council reviewed the project’s planning permission earlier this year.
The council said the airport plans, which were accepted initially, did not consider plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Stansted Airport bosses claim the airport extension will provide an additional 5,000 jobs when completed.
Stansted Airport denies plans to expand to 50 million passengers a year
Stansted Airport has denied that it is planning to expand the airport to a throughput of 50 million passengers a year (mppa), well beyond the 43mppa limit applied for in its 2018 planning application, which continues to be under consideration. Local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), says this denial came from Thomas Hill QC, representing Stansted, on 13th November in the High Court in connection with SSE’s legal challenge over the handling of the current 43 mppa application. However, earlier SSE’s barrister, Paul Stinchcombe QC, had provided the Judge with multiple sources of evidence demonstrating that the airport was planning to expand to 50 mppa and intended to do so in two stages: first, by seeking an 8 mppa uplift in the cap, to 43 mppa; and then later seeking a 7 mppa increase to 50 mppa. The DfT was aware of all this and knew also that the existing runway was capable of handling 50 mppa. Any airport expansion project, or combination of projects, for an increase of over 10 mppa must, by law, be dealt with at national level by the Secretary of State rather than by the Local Planning Authority – i.e. Uttlesford District Council. The verdict of the court is awaited.
Groups write to Government asking for a moratorium on airport expansion planning applications
Representatives of groups at some of the largest UK airports have written to both the Secretaries of State for Transport, and Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request a halt to airport expansion. The letter asks them to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled UK policy position against which such applications can be judged. Many UK airports are seeking – or have announced their intention to seek – planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by over 70% compared to 2017. There is no settled UK policy on aircraft noise, or policy on aviation carbon and how the sector will, as the CCC advises, “limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”. The letter says: “Until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications.”
SSE will be in the High Court from 12-14 November for a Judicial Review challenge of the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport (SST)
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) will be in the High Court from 12-14 November for a Judicial Review challenge of the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport (SST) to allow Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to determine the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application for 43 mppa. The essence of the SSE challenge is that the application should be treated as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008 – because it is nearly 10 million extra annual passengers – and therefore determined by the Secretary of State for Transport, rather than UDC. Part of the challenge relates to the CO2 emissions impact of the proposed development. It is not satisfactory for the DfT to say the limiting of aviation carbon emissions is not an issue for Local Planning Authorities (LPAAs). The SST cannot just sit back and allow LPAs to sanction major airport expansion projects all over the UK, and at the same time tell them to disregard aviation CO2 emissions of these airport expansion projects. Many airports plan expansion, and the combined carbon emissions way exceed even lax future cap targets. SSE will be trying to pin down the SST on this key issue.
Lower Stansted passenger numbers recently shows there is no urgency for agreement to allow expansion
After 63 consecutive months of year-on-year growth, Stansted Airport has posted a reduction in passenger numbers in each of the past three months (July, August, September). Passenger numbers were down 0.5% in July, down 3.7% in August and down 2.7% in September, compared to a year earlier. The overall reduction over the 3 month period was some 200,000 passengers, equivalent to a year on year decline of 2.3%. Luton posted a 7.3% increase for three months to 31 August with 5.3 million passengers. (Luton and other airport numbers from the CAA for September are not yet available). One reason for the fall in numbers at Stansted is the late arrival of Boeing 737 Max planes to Ryanair. Stansted’s passenger numbers are also expected to be down in October, partly due to the collapse of Thomas Cook at the end of September. Stansted’s cargo tonnage was down with a loss of 28,000 tonnes (11%) on a year-on-year basis, with the number of cargo aircraft using Stansted is down 6% compared to 2018. All that shows there is NO urgency to allow Stansted higher annual passenger numbers. SSE said: “At the very least, Uttlesford District Council should do nothing until we all know the outcome of SSE’s legal challenge in the High Court, which takes place from 12th-14th November.”
Independent legal advice says the 2018 decision on Stansted Airport expansion should be reconsidered by Uttlesford Council
Stop Stansted Expansion say the 2018 Stansted Airport Planning Application should be considered entirely afresh. That’s the verdict of leading planning barrister Paul Stinchcombe QC in an independent legal opinion prepared for Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE). In the interests of transparency the full (25-page) legal advice is now published today and will be available online at http://stopstanstedexpansion.com/ The QC’s opinion sets out the key precedents in planning law and confirms that Uttlesford District Council (UDC) is lawfully entitled to reconsider the entire Planning Application even if there have been no material changes in circumstances or any relevant new considerations. However, a number of new material factors which have arisen since the Application was provisionally approved last year mean there is not only an entitlement to reconsider, but an obligation to do so. The QC’s advice explains that, provided there are good planning reasons, the new Planning Committee could quite lawfully and reasonably reach a different planning judgment from the former Committee who, by the slenderest of margins provisionally approved the Application last November.