Stansted Airport Expansion: R4U pushes Kemi Badenoch MP for Public Inquiry

R4U has called on the respective Secretaries of State and local MP Kemi Badenoch for a Public Inquiry into the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG).

Manchester Airports Group (MAG), who own and operate Stansted Airport, has submitted a planning application to Uttlesford District Council to expand the airport capacity to more than 43 million passengers a year. If this new application was approved it would more than double passenger numbers from the 18 million a year that used the airport when MAG took it over in 2013. By comparison last year 78 million passengers used Heathrow and 45.6 million Gatwick, both of which currently have 2 runways.

Alex Armstrong (R4U) Alex Armstrong (R4U)

Dunmow Councillor, R4U’s Alex Armstrong said “It is unclear if Stansted Airport actually needs to expand. The government has stated that its preferred option for the London area is a third runway at Heathrow, and not major expansions of either Gatwick or Stansted. So is MAG now trying to sneak it under the radar? Why else would they be proposing an increase that is just under the legal threshold for the government to automatically make the decision? It feels like a very cynical move. If it was approved by UDC, Stansted would grow to about the same size as Gatwick and half the size of Heathrow, meaning we’d next likely see a proposal for another runway.”

“The fact that UDC is expected to make the decision is highly concerning. The existing Stansted to London railway is already overloaded, as are long stretches of the M11 and the critical access at Junction 8. UDC isn’t responsible for UK National Infrastructure, such as the motorways, railways or in fact any of London’s airports – and so can’t force the airport or other agencies to upgrade them.”

“It is even more concerning for local residents because over the next 15 years UDC is planning for 15,000 new houses in the district. The council wants the majority of these to be around the airport area and feeding into the same roads and railways which already can’t cope. The UDC administration has shown a poor track record of properly considering long-range strategic plans or delivering significant infrastructure. Their costly Local Plan was rejected and the new one has been delayed time after time; they failed to even complete a single-carriageway bypass around Dunmow for 10 years; and they’ve had a string of major planning failures in Dunmow, Elsenham and Saffron Walden. And they certainly don’t have the staff or expertise to properly assess UK National Infrastructure such as airports, rail, and motorway capacity because it’s not their job.”

“Any decision about a major airport expansion such as this is of national significance because there would be a major impact to roads, railways, local communities, noise and the environment. It requires the scrutiny and independence that only a Public Inquiry can give. Heathrow and Gatwick residents have had theirs, so why not here? To make sure of the best outcome for local people, Residents for Uttlesford has written to both the Secretaries of State for Local Government and Transport, and to local MP Kemi Badenoch to urge for a Public Inquiry. This is the first big test for our new MP on local matters, so people will be watching carefully to see if she can deliver.”

“In the meantime, MAG has submitted a planning application for the expansion to UDC to consider. We strongly recommend that residents respond to the public consultation.”

UDC has extended the public consultation until 30th April 2018. Residents can respond on the UDC website.

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