Stop Stansted Expansion campaign group to rebrand

Peter Sanders, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion ( SSE) Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

Pete Sanders, of Stop Stansted Expansion is stepping down after 17 years as chairman. Credit: Andrew Partridge

A group which has fought Stansted Airport's plans to expand for 19 years is changing its name to "refocus and rejuvenate" its campaign for the longer term. 

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) formed in 2002 and as well as opposing plans for growth at the Essex hub, the group has campaigned on night flights and changes to flight paths over the years. 

But campaigners now feel the time is right to rebrand and a change to Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) has been recommended for approval at an AGM next month. 

An eight-week public inquiry into plans to expand Stansted came to an end on March 12 and a decision is expected in June. 

Peter Sanders, who will stand down after 17 years as chairman of SSE at the AGM, said it was "questionable" whether the current name was now appropriate for the group. 

“Regardless of the outcome of the recent public inquiry, it is very unlikely that Stansted will apply for any further increase in its capacity for many years to come," he said. 

"As a result of Covid-19, the current planning cap of 35million passengers per annum is not expected to be reached within the next decade and it is questionable whether permission to grow to 43m per annum – i.e. the issue at stake at the public inquiry – will ever be needed.

"In the current circumstances it’s questionable whether ‘Stop Stansted Expansion’ continues to be an appropriate name for our campaign."

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The group said a further reason for the new organisation is to allow a "changing of the guard" to take place, with most of the current members having been involved since 2002. 

SSE said the current hiatus, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, provides an opportunity to start passing the baton to the next generation to learn and gain experience of dealing with key issues. 

London Stansteds terminal building will shut overnight during the lockdown travel ban Picture: STANS

A public inquiry into expansion plans at Stansted ended in March - Credit: Archant

"SSE has notched up some considerable successes since it was established but now is exactly the right time to refocus and rejuvenate the campaign for the longer term," Mr Sanders added. 

"I have no doubt that Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) will be every bit as effective as SSE and, as its name implies, will be ever-vigilant in seeking to minimise the negative impacts of the airport upon the local community and the environment.”