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SSE chairman denies protest group is playing politics over airport planning

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Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Peter Sanders. (9078599)
Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Peter Sanders. (9078599)

Stop Stansted Expansion campaigners have denied playing politics over airport expansion.

Chairman Peter Sanders has written to the Conservative leader of Uttlesford District Council (UDC), Cllr Howard Rolfe, to set out the 7,500-member protest group’s position.

"I would remind you that SSE has always been, and continues to be, non-party political. Our focus remains that of seeking to protect the local community and environment from unfettered expansion of Stansted Airport,” he said.

"For almost the entire period since 2002, when SSE was established, UDC and SSE have worked in concert in this regard, and it has been a non-partisan issue. In the past two to three years the council's position has clearly changed whereas SSE's position has remained consistent."

In November last year, the council planning committee chairman's casting vote resulted in approval for Manchester Airports Group to increase capacity at Stansted from 35m passengers a year to 43m. The terminal currently handles around 28m a year.

SSE has launched a series of legal challenges to try to overturn the decision, and cross-party action by councillors has delayed a rubber-stamp for the proposed mitigation package which would finalise the permission.

There will be an extraordinary meeting of the council on Thursday (April 25) to consider whether that sign-off should be delayed until after the local elections on May 2.

Mr Sanders made a plea to all councillors to put party politics to one side and act in the interests both of their local residents and of maintaining public trust in the planning system. UDC is currently made up of 24 Conservatives, four Liberal Democrats, ten Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) members and one vacant seat.

The meeting will be held in the council chamber at UDC's offices in London Road, Saffron Walden, starting at 7.30pm.

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