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Campaigners make their case against Stansted expansion plans

08 November, 2018 - 21:25
An aerial view of Stansted Airport. Picture: Stansted

An aerial view of Stansted Airport. Picture: Stansted

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Stansted Airport’s application to increase passenger numbers will worsen pollution and traffic congestion while adding nothing to the local economy, councillors have been told.

Aircraft at Stansted Airport   Picture: Stansted AirportAircraft at Stansted Airport Picture: Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport’s application to increase its passenger numbers will worsen pollution and traffic congestion while adding nothing to the local economy, councillors have been told.

They were also been urged to delay the decision until after the borough council’s Local Plan – which includes details about Stansted – has been fomalised and adopted next year.

The special presentation from the main campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), along with residents opposed to the expansion, was the last chance Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee would have of hearing extensive views before the crucial meeting on November 14.

The committe also heard support from Harlow Council representing Harlow Enterprise Zone and employees of Stansted Airport at the meeting last night.

Bruce Bamber, left, Brian Ross and Geoff Gardner from Stop Stansted Expansion at the meeting at Uttlesford District Council hearing opposition to plans to expand Stansted Airport.Bruce Bamber, left, Brian Ross and Geoff Gardner from Stop Stansted Expansion at the meeting at Uttlesford District Council hearing opposition to plans to expand Stansted Airport.

If granted – albeit with conditions – the airport will be able to increase the cap on the number of passengers able to use the facility from 35milion a year to 43milion.

In doing so, the number of flights will also be able to increase to a maximum of 274,000 a year.

But campaigners claim the plans, which are likely to facilitate a significant increase – as much as 44 per cent on the 189,900 flights seen last year to an agreed capacity of 274,000 per year by 2028 – will also have a major impact on traffic and noise levels.

Last year the airport handled a record 26 million passengers and is expected to hit its current 35 million maximum cap for people using it by 2023.

Great Hallingbury resident Simon Havers addresses the meeting at Uttlesford District Council hearing opposition to the expansion of Stansted Airport.Great Hallingbury resident Simon Havers addresses the meeting at Uttlesford District Council hearing opposition to the expansion of Stansted Airport.

Geoff Gardner, from SSE said it was wrong to prejudge the Local Plan and the policy surrounding Stansted, yet to be formalised by making a decision now.

He said: “The council has adopted this significant caveat on that policy and that plan that it should be no more than the permitted development.

“The permitted development has a cap of 35 million.

“What the Local Plan is urging is there should be a cap on development at the airport.”

Catherine Dean, from Stansted Mountfichet said: “With one exception, every parish council and town council that has responded to the consultation has rejected the application.

“There are reasons, among others, of aircraft noise, traffic on local roads and air quality.

“They are talking about the situation now when the airport is eight million passengers away from its present permission and 16million away from the proposed 43 million cap.

“There will undoubtedly be more noise, more traffic on the roads and worsening in air quality.

“To say as the environmental statement does that there will be no notable impacts is just not credible.

“Stansted Mountfichet suffers from traffic congestion, fly parking and air quality measurements from monitors in the village show that pollution is reaching a critical level.

“There are four schools in Stansted, two of which are close to the airport perimeter.”

She said the proposed £800,000 fund for improvements to roads near the airport would “surely be inadequate”.

“It is very difficult to see what more measure can be taken in Stansted Mountfichet to accommodate more traffic,” she added.

“A bypass alone would cost more than the proposed fund.

“How will fly parking be prevented? It has been a problem from many years and no solution has been offered. That’s because there isn’t one.

“I do appreciate that not all these negative effects can be attributed to the airport – the many new houses built in Uttlesford in recent years have contributed.

“The district council has to make provision for more than 15,000 homes in the next 15 years with more traffic and more pollution.

“But the report does not seem to take this into account. These houses have been decreed by the Government.

“If this application is approved then added to the negative consequence of the construction of 15,000 homes, there will be more congestion, more flyparking and more air pollution.

“It is a significant application and will have significant adverse consequences.”

She added: “If you believe, as I do that, the balance between the interests of the local community and those of the aviation industry will be compromised if this development proceeds, then you should vote to refuse the application.”

Roger Clark, chairman of Broxted Parish Council, said: “Even if it were true that aircraft were getting even a little bit quieter, the sheer increase in numbers would negate any such benefits.

“Furthermore if the airport were ever to achieve its aspiration to attract long haul flights, it wold inevitably involve larger, noisier aircraft.

“But it has achieved an increase in cargo flights and these are almost always larger, older and noisier aircraft.

“The claims that this huge increase in the number of flights will make little or no difference to the people on the flight paths is disingenuous and an insult to the intelligence of ordinary people.”

Simon Havers, who has lived in Great Hallingbury for 21 years, told the committee: “You are well aware that you are elected by the 80,000 residents of Uttlesford to represent their interests and I don’t see there is any reason at all for you to approve something that is overwhelmingly detrimental to the interests of people you are elected to represent.

“The damage to them from the air pollution, the noise, the train congestion, the environmental damage is all massively negative.

“The benefits to the constituents will be utterly minimal.

“The unemployment rate is so low here that these low grade jobs created at the airport will do nothing to change that.

“The expansion will benefit Manchester Airport Group and the vast majority of passengers who use the airport, who do not come from our area and who are not elected to represent them, so let someone else look after their interests.

“The only possible benefit is the junction 8 improvements but does a subsidy and section 106 for some roadworks really justify going against the interests of the people and the will of the community?”

He added: “I appreciate your rejection may well lead to an appeal. No problem, let them do their worst.

“I am sure the local tax payers will be happy to see some of their council tax going to pay the appeal costs.”

Councillors are set to debate the plans, which are currently the subject of a High Court battle, on November 14.

Stansted Airport chief executive Ken O’Toole said of the application: “We have to build a tiny sliver of taxiway off either end of the runway and three stands for aircraft, so the physical work is absolutely minimal.

“We are not seeking any change in the number of flights, and there will be no change in the boundary of the airport.”

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