Stansted Airport campaigners urge Uttlesford council to stall on planning permission for passenger growth
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has blasted Uttlesford District Council (UDC) for preparing to rush through final approval of expansion at Stansted Airport with "totally inadequate" mitigation measures.
In November last year, the council planning committee chairman's casting vote resulted in approval for owner Manchester Airports Group to increase capacity at Stansted from 35 million passengers a year to 43m. The terminal currently handles around 28m a year.
SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: "For almost two years, UDC leadership has insisted that determining this airport planning application at local level would ensure the maximum benefits for the local community. That promise is about to be totally betrayed.
"It beggars belief that our local council would be willing to short-change its own residents – and knowingly so.
"Instead of holding out until a fairer agreement for its residents could be negotiated with Stansted Airport, UDC appears intent on rushing through this shabby and defective deal before next month's local elections."
When UDC gave MAG the green light, SSE had already launched a legal challenge which is still ongoing.
There were also two other obstacles: a rubber-stamp from James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, which was delivered last month and agreement on Section 106 conditions, such as sound insulation for neighbouring properties, support for the community and infrastructure investment.
SSE claims UDC is now poised to approve Stansted's proposed mitigation package "despite the fact that it is vastly inferior to almost any comparable mitigation provided by other major UK airports".
The airport is offering £150,000 a year for local good causes, but SSE claims that to match the UK airport average of 1.1p per passenger, it would require a contribution of around £450,000.
Stansted's proposed sound insulation scheme offers up to £10,000 for homes within the 63dB noise contour while Heathrow is offering sound insulation for all homes within the 60dB noise contour, with no financial cap.
SSE says: "A difference of 3dB may not appear large, but around Stansted Airport there are just 115 homes in the 63dB noise contour but three times as many – 350 – in the 60dB contour."
Mr Sanders added: "Thank goodness SSE had the foresight last year to initiate legal proceedings to challenge UDC's handling of this planning application. We repeat our plea to UDC to delay its finalisation of this controversial Stansted Airport planning application until the legal proceedings have run their course."
He said that the campaign would include the council in its litigation unless there was a pause.