Stansted Airport campaigners hit out at passenger growth proposal

PUBLISHED: 10:25 07 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:25 07 March 2018

The entrance to Stansted Airport

The entrance to Stansted Airport

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Stansted Airport has applied to increase the current cap on annual passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million passengers a year in what campaigners say is a ‘sweetheart’ deal with local planning authorities to avoid government scrutiny.

The application to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) seeks permission to increase the use of its single runway over the next 10 years, which could lead to 5,000 new on-site jobs and boost the offering of long haul destinations.

Ken O’Toole, chief executive of London Stansted Airport, said: “Over the past six months we have consulted widely on our future growth plans and based on the feedback from these discussions, we’ve made sure our growth can be achieved within current limits on flight numbers and with no increase in the size of the airport’s noise footprint. This is good news for local residents.”

However, the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group said the application was misleading in claiming that further expansion of the airport would have no significant environmental impacts and said it was “profoundly concerned at the lengths Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is prepared to go to to avoid scrutiny by secretary of State by amending passenger numbers”.

Chairman of SSE, Peter Sanders, said: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that a 44 percent increase in the number of flights and a 66 percent increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads.”

SSE said that by increasing the number of passengers by eight million, and not 10, MAG could have the plan considered by the district council, and not by the secretary of state which, it argued, would be more rigorous.

SSE said it understands that in return for local planning approval from the district council, MAG would be prepared to make financial contributions to help fund local road schemes and other local projects in the delivery of the local plan.

Mr Sanders added: “We need to have confidence that this planning application will be considered purely on its own merits and subject to fair and thorough scrutiny. That is why it should be determined nationally by the secretary of state, not locally by UDC.”

The application will also seek permission for additional airfield infrastructure within the current airfield boundary, comprising two new links to the runway, six additional stands on the mid airfield and three additional stands at the north eastern end of the airport.

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