Local Conservatives withdraw from UDC Climate Change initiatives after R4U challenge their support of ongoing expansion of Stansted Airport

Local Conservative councillors have withdrawn from UDC Energy and Climate Change Working Group after R4U challenged their environmental credentials. This was following the local Conservative’s support for continued growth of Stansted Airport following a district council meeting to discuss the airport’s expansion that was approved by government Inspectors after a High Court challenge was refused.

Louise Pepper (R4U) Louise Pepper (R4U)

R4U Cllr Louise Pepper, who is the Environmental Portfolio Holder at Uttlesford District Council, said “Two-and-a-half years ago at UDC, Conservative councillors waved through the huge expansion of Stansted Airport to the size of Gatwick. It was opposed by more than 40 town and parish councils. After High Court action was recently blocked, at a public council meeting the Conservative district councillors again voiced their support for the expansion. They even referenced their government’s policy which would see an expansion to 50 million passengers per year. This is far in excess of the current size granted by the government Inspector on appeal. The airport is an important, big local employer and that shouldn’t change, but airport expansions in Uttlesford, and all over the country, should only be considered when traditional aero-engines have been replaced by green technology.”

Cllr Louise Pepper continued “It seems clear that the local Conservatives were insincere when they signed up to UDC’s Climate Emergency motion. That motion requires the council to take action to curb planet-damaging carbon emissions, and they don’t wish to take any. Stansted’s expansion is the CO2 equivalent to putting 1.8 million cars on Uttlesford roads. It is unprincipled to pretend to be doing something, whilst actually supporting the opposite. As a result I wrote to challenge the Conservative councillors’ participation on UDC’s Energy and Climate Change Working Group. They have replied to say that they are backing the airport and withdrawing from the working group. Their leader even went on to say he would no longer read any material published by the group. It is disappointing, but at least we all know where we stand with respect to the future of our planet.”

Petrina Lees (R4U) Petrina Lees (R4U)

R4U Cllr Petrina Lees, who is Deputy Leader of UDC, added “In 2019 UDC’s Climate Emergency motion was backed by the full council, and requires the council to act. As a result the council ring-fenced the funds required to fight the airport expansion, so that no council services would be affected. Even though the UDC has now reached the end of the road with regard to its legal challenge, it was critical that the council took all reasonable legal actions it could to try to protect our planet – it is about the risk to the lives of our children and future generations. Residents want politicians of principle, and so on the major issues they care about, they expect their elected representatives to take a stand for them; say what they will do; and then actually do what they said they would. It is disappointing that some councillors from the Westminster parties at UDC can’t be trusted to do the same.”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.