Critics of Stansted expansion plans ramp up campaign

Transport secretary Chris Grayling Picture: SU ANDERSON

Transport secretary Chris Grayling Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

Campaigners trying to stop Stansted Airport from expanding its passenger numbers have registered their intention to take their case to court to get it decided nationally.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says it has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the proposals, or face proceedings in the High Court.

The papers formally notify transport secretary Chris Grayling of the SSE’s plan to apply within 14 days for a Judicial Review as the group pushes its case to have the airport’s planning application designated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). If the designation gets the go-ahead, it would mean the application would be considered nationally rather than by the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council.

Stansted said its planning application to increase the limit on passengers at Stansted from 35m to 43m a year was submitted “following extensive consultation with the local community” and kept the airport within its current boundary.

“We support the secretary of state for transport’s decision that the application should be determined locally. This is in line with the covernment’s planning policies and consistent with its clear support for airports seeking to make best use of existing runway capacity,” an airport spokesperson said.

Campaigners claim the application for expansion submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on behalf of the airport last February would mean a 44% increase in flights and a 66% increase in passengers compared to 2017 levels.

It said the application should not be “rushed through” and wants it determined nationally, as it was “a lengthier and far more thorough process than local determination, involving detailed scrutiny by an expert team”.

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SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: “Despite the current delay on the part of the local council, we cannot afford to wait any longer to ask for a legal ruling as to whether this planning application should be dealt with nationally rather than locally. That is why SSE has now served formal notice of an application to the High Court for Judicial Review proceedings.” Campaigners have taken on top planning barristers Paul Stinchcombe QC and Richard Walk to represent them.