Stansted Airport: Plans to increase capacity to 43 million

Business / Fri 16th Nov 2018 at 11:55am

By Local Democracy Reporter

Piers Meyler

THE main campaign group against the growth of Stansted Airport has vowed to continue its fight against the airport’s plan to increase passenger numbers by eight million, calling Uttlesford Council’s decision to approve the application “just round one”.

That decision to allow the number of passengers it is permitted to serve to increase to 43 million will be ratified by the Secretary of State.

But Brian Ross, deputy leader of Stop Stansted Expansion, said he believed it was likely he would call in the decision given the closeness of the vote – there were five councillors who voted for and against with the casting vote from chairman Alan Mills.

The airport says the decision will boost the region’s economic growth and deliver 5,000 additional jobs.

Though importantly campaigners argue it will allow the airport to increase the number of flights to a previously agreed cap of 274,000 per year– split between 16,000 cargo and 258,000 passenger flights.

The annual rolling total is now over 27 million passengers, up seven per cent on 2017, but still 8 million off its current cap.

The 35 million cap is expected to be reached by 2022 and the 43 million cap by 2028.

Campaigners claim the plans, which are likely to facilitate a significant increase – as much as 44 per cent on the 189,900 flights seen last year to an agreed capacity of 274,000 per year by 2028 – will also have a major impact on traffic and noise levels.

Uttlesford District Council’s planning report has said there would be 72 additional flights during the day – 712 between 7am and 11pm.

That’s compared to a minimum scenario of 640 if the cap was not lifted.

Without the cap the total number of flights – including cargo and others – will not be able to increase much beyond 249,000, according to figures in the planning application.

Mr Ross said: “Of course we’re disappointed, especially to lose on a casting vote.

“But we are encouraged by the fact that he Secretary of State has to take a view. As to whether to call it in.

“With it being such a close vote we think he will call it in.

“More importantly they tried to do today what took five months to resolve last time, to consider this application they just skimmed through it.

“So that’s another reason why it should be called in.

“We have other irons in the fire with the Secretary of State for Transport because there is a case in the High Court.

“And of course there is nothing to stop us filing a judicial review against Uttlesford – although that is not what we would want to do.

“We have got to go back and consider our options but this is just round one.”

A key assupmtion the council is making in noise mitigation is that airlines would have to start using more modern quieter aircraft and that Uttlesford would penalise the airport if noise levels rose above permitted levels.

Councillor Janice Loughlin, who voted against, said: “I’d love to be in that conversation where Manchester Airport Group (the owner of Stansted) tells Michael O’Leary (owner of Ryanair) you can’t land your planes here any more.”

Welcoming the decision, London Stansted’s CEO, Ken O’Toole, said: “We are delighted that Uttlesford District Council has approved our planning application to enable the airport to grow over the next decade.

” This will boost our region’s economic growth and deliver 5,000 additional jobs at London Stansted Airport.

“The decision offers London Stansted and its airline partners the long-term clarity we need to make further investment decisions at the airport but also importantly provides the local community with the assurance that our future growth will be delivered in a measured and sustainable way.

“From the outset our local community has been a vital partner in this planning process and it was their feedback which led us to put forward a proposal which did not seek an increase in the number of flights and committed to deliver the growth within a smaller noise footprint than our existing permissions require.

“The decision is great news for the airport, our staff and the growth ambitions of the region, London and the wider UK and will improve passenger choice and convenience and boost international long-haul routes to fast-growing markets like China, India and the US.

“The combination of the strong economic health of our catchment, our available runway capacity, the £600 million investment we are making in our facilities and the continuing desire of local residents to travel by air by London Stansted, will collectively ensure that the airport has a bright future.

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