Showdown meeting set to decide future of Stansted airport

Passengers at the terminal concourse at Stansted Airport Picture: LUCY MARTIN

Passengers at the terminal concourse at Stansted Airport Picture: LUCY MARTIN - Credit: Archant

Campaigners seeking to stop plans to expand Stansted airport are pinning their hopes on a council meeting on Friday, January 24.

The Uttlesford District Council planning committee meeting looks like it should clear the last hurdle to enable Stansted to press ahead with its proposals to raise an annual ceiling on passenger numbers to 43m - a move it and other business groups argue is vital to helping the regional economy to thrive.

Council officers have recommended a financial contribution package totalling £35m should be accepted, and said there are no new material considerations to justify a different decision to that resolved by Uttlesford's planning committee in 2018.

MORE - Decision day set for controversial airport expansion plansBut Stop Stansted Expansion campaigners have continued to press for a re-think - despite a planning report which came out in favour of giving the proposals the green light.

The group is hoping that Residents4Uttlesford-led council - voted in last May to replace the Conservative-run administration - will vote against officer advice and reject the proposals.

SSE has warned of "potentially serious health impacts" from small particulates, as set out by Henham resident Professor Jangu Banatvala and supported by others at a council-hosted public forum event on Friday, January 17, ahead of the crunch meeting on January 24.

SSE argues that the expansion is unacceptable because of noise, air pollution and carbon emissions concerns.

SSE chairman Peter Sanders said his group was hoping for a unanimous refusal of the application by the planning committee when it meets to decide on the issue - more than a year after it was first given the thumbs up by councillors.

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"The world has moved on since this planning application was first considered by the council's planning committee in November 2018," he said.

"If the committee had known at that time what we know now about the far more serious potential health impacts of air pollution and aircraft noise, the application would surely never have been provisionally approved.

"Add to that the mounting evidence that we are facing a climate catastrophe if we don't act now and it becomes clear that to approve this application would be irresponsible to future generations."

A Stansted spokesman said: "As the council's own officers and independent legal experts have unambiguously concluded in their advice to the Planning Committee, there are no new material considerations that would justify a different decision to the one taken in November 2018.

"Throughout this process we have listened to the community in order to deliver growth in a sustainable manner, without an increase in the number of permitted flights and within a smaller noise footprint than currently applies. In addition, our plans would generate 5,000 more jobs at the airport and a further £1bn of additional economic and social benefit, as well as enabling the airport to invest up to £35m in local services and improvements over the coming years.

"We have been working hard with the Council over recent months to better understand its concerns and would hope the committee take this on board when they meet later this week."