Airport growth critics hit out at Ryanair pollution rise

Campaigners are to claim Ryanair is one of Europe's biggest polluters in a fresh legal bid against t

Campaigners are to claim Ryanair is one of Europe's biggest polluters in a fresh legal bid against the expansion of Stansted airport Picture: STANSTED AIRPORT - Credit: Archant

A row over whether Stansted Airport should expand has escalated – as campaigners plan to use figures suggesting Ryanair is one of Europe’s biggest polluters in their latest judicial challenge.

The airline, which transports 130 million people a year – 21m of whom currently travel through Stansted – produced 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. That’s up 6.9% on the previous year, and 49% over the last five.

Brian Ross, from Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), said campaigners will include data from the EU’s transport and environment group in their next legal challenge.

He claims the figures show Ryanair is the tenth biggest CO2 emitter – all nine others are coal fired power stations. The group will use this to suggest the decision by Uttlesford District Council to approve the airport’s expansion should be called in for determination by the government.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire has already explained that his reason for not intervening was that the application does not involve issues of more than local importance.

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But SSE considers this to be at odds with their belief that noise, air pollution, community health and road traffic impacts of Stansted are felt far beyond the borders of Uttlesford, alongside the 3.7m equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide they claim is attributable to Stansted Airport.

“That is part of our argument to the Secretary of State,” Mr Ross said.

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“It’s not just a national issue. It’s a global issue.

“You can’t just allow local authorities to approve an increase in carbon emissions as they like.

“There needs to be national coordination.”

The group has now taken a judicial review action against Mr Brokenshire for not deeming the application to be nationally significant and therefore for it not be called in under his powers.

Ken O’Toole, chief executive at London Stansted, said: “From the outset our local community has been a vital partner in this planning process, and their feedback has shaped our proposals which do not seek an increase in the permitted number of flights, and commit us to achieving a smaller noise footprint in the future than our existing permissions require,” he said.

“We have always believed that the application should be determined locally, and this view has been supported by the transport secretary of state for transport and now also the communities secretary.”

Ryanair were asked to comment.

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