Stansted airport inquiry to start in the midst of the Covid pandemic

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has described the decision to schedule a January start for the Public Inquiry into further expansion at Stansted Airport as “dangerous, unwise and unnecessary” in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, warning that it could jeopardise community involvement in the hearings.  The public inquiry is being held following an appeal by Stansted’s owners, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) against the refusal by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to allow expansion of the airport to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers, compared to 28 million last year. The refusal, by the UDC Planning Committee, was by a resounding margin of 10 votes to nil.  SSE believes that a three-month deferral would be a safer and more sensible way forward, not least given the major impacts which the pandemic is having on the aviation industry. Stansted will handle fewer than 9 million passengers this year, one third of last year’s total. Experts say it will take five years before passenger numbers return to 2019 levels – if it ever does. Despite strong objections from SSE, the start date has been set for 12 January 2021. It is planned to be an in-person event, with attendant Covid infection risks, and SSE says it should be done by using video technology, but this has limitations on effective public participation and access.
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STANSTED AIRPORT INQUIRY TO START IN MIDST OF PANDEMIC

31st October 2020

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) press release

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has described the decision to schedule a January start for the Public Inquiry into further expansion at Stansted Airport as “dangerous, unwise and unnecessary” in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, warning that it could jeopardise community involvement in the hearings.

The public inquiry is being held following an appeal by Stansted’s owners, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) against the refusal by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to allow expansion of the airport to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers, compared to 28 million last year. The refusal, by the UDC Planning Committee, was by a resounding margin of 10 votes to nil.

SSE believes that a three-month deferral would be a safer and more sensible way forward, not least given the major impacts which the pandemic is having on the aviation industry. Stansted will handle fewer than 9 million passengers this year, one third of last year’s total. Experts say it will take five years before passenger numbers return to 2019 levels and there are some who question whether the demand for air travel will ever fully recover.

A panel of three government-appointed Inspectors will handle the Public Inquiry and, in recent weeks, there have been lengthy discussions between the Inspectors, MAG, UDC and SSE about the arrangements for how and when it should be conducted.

Despite strong objections from SSE, the start date has been set for 12 January 2021. SSE argued that it was folly to start the Inquiry in the midst of a pandemic and in the middle of winter. All the scientific evidence indicates higher transmission rates for this type of virus in colder weather and with less sunshine.

Furthermore, in defiance of common sense the proposed venue for the Inquiry is the Radisson Blu hotel adjacent to the airport terminal building. The hotel caters primarily for airport passengers and air crew, demonstrated by scientific evidence to be the primary vector for the transmission of Covid-19.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: “Given the hotel’s location and its customer base, the choice of venue is staggering and demonstrates a fundamental disregard for Inquiry participants.”

“The proposed answer to the public health risks is to use video technology,” he continued. “However, SSE does not believe this would provide either a fair or an effective means of presenting evidence and cross-examining witnesses. We have a powerful case to argue, based on strong evidence, and it is important to the community that these airport expansion proposals are properly challenged. We are not persuaded that video hearings can provide the level of public accessibility and transparency that a controversial Public Inquiry of this type needs to have.”

ENDS

https://stopstanstedexpansion.com/press-releases/press-release-airport-inquiry-to-start-in-midst-of-pandemic/ 


NOTES

To add to the 14,000 pages of documents already submitted for this planning application, MAG submitted another 880 pages on 16 October, making sweeping revisions to its earlier assessments of the environmental impacts. These revised assessments are now available on the UDC website at

https://www.uttlesford.gov.uk/article/6906/Stansted-Airport-planning-application-Amended-Environmental-Statement.

Comments from members of the public, Town and Parish Councils and other organisations, are asked for by 23 November, to be sent by email to planning@uttlesford.gov.uk, and to include the name and address of the person or organisation making the representation.


FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT

Peter Sanders, SSE Chairman, T 01799 520411; petersanders77@talktalk.net
Brian Ross, SSE Deputy Chairman: 01279 814961; (M) 07850 937143 brian.ross@lineone.net
SSE Campaign Office: 01279 870558; info@stopstanstedexpansion.com

https://stopstanstedexpansion.com/

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See earlier:

 

SSE RENEWS CALL FOR STANSTED AIRPORT TO ACCEPT PLANNING REFUSAL

STOP STANSTED EXPANSION 

PRESS RELEASE – 29th JULY 2020 

In an email sent on 28th July, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) congratulated Steve Griffiths on his appointment as Managing Director of Stansted Airport, but urged him to listen to the local community and to reconsider the Airport’s proposed appeal against the unanimous rejection of its planning application by Uttlesford District Council.

In the email SSE’s Chairman, Peter Sanders, said an appeal would be costly and time-consuming for all parties at a time when they are hard pressed by other important issues.

https://stopstanstedexpansion.com/press-releases/sse-renews-call-for-airport-to-accept-planning-refusal/


MAG to appeal council’s refusal of Stansted expansion proposals – SSE says this is “CALLOUS, CYNICAL AND POINTLESS”

The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has decided to appeal against the refusal by Uttlesford District Council of the expansion plans of Stansted airport. Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman, Peter Sanders, said this was “callous, cynical and pointless” and prolongs uncertainty. MAG has been seeking an increase in the permitted number of flights using Stansted, up from the present limit of 35 mppa to 43mppa.  Stansted’s actual throughput in 2019 was 28 mppa and will be very significantly lower in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19.  Uttlesford District Council (UDC) first received MAG’s expansion proposals for Stansted in June 2017 and spent more than two and a half years considering the issues prior to 24 January 2020 when its (cross-party) Planning Committee voted by 10 votes to zero to refuse the application. MAG itself had said it wanted the application to be determined locally rather than nationally, and that UDC was the “competent and appropriate authority” to deal with its application. But now it is appealing, for the decision to go to a Public Inquiry, that would be costly for UDC at a time when finances are struggling.

Click here to view full story…

Stop Stansted Expansion ask MAG not to challenge Uttlesford DC’s decision to oppose expansion, saving public money to help with Covid recovery

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) refused the Stansted Airport planning application on 24 January this year. But the airport’s owners, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said an appeal was being considered. Legally, 6 months is allowed for a planning appeal and 3 months of that have now passed. An appeal would trigger a Public Inquiry which would mean that the final outcome might not be known for possibly another 18 months.  Meanwhile UDC has felt it had to set aside £1.7 million to cover the potential costs of a Public Inquiry, and the risk of UDC being forced to pay MAG’s costs if MAG wins. Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has asked MAG  to show magnanimity in the current circumstances of the Covid pandemic, by announcing that it will respect the decision made by UDC in January, and not appeal. SSE say “it’s time to end the uncertainty … Now more than ever, MAG should respect the UDC decision.” SSE want the airport to withdraw its application for expansion to from 35mppa to 43 mppa. The £1.7million would be far better spent, by UDC, “to assist local businesses and local residents, including airport employees who have been laid off, during the virus crisis.”

Click here to view full story…

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