Campaigners lose airport expansion fight

CAMPAIGNERS today lost their battle to stop a 40 per cent increase in passengers using Stansted airport.

CAMPAIGNERS today lost their battle to stop a 40 per cent increase in passengers using Stansted airport.

High Court judge Sir Thayne Forbes decided the government was right to approve plans to allow the current runway to be used to its maximum.

Stop Stansted Expansion had appealed to the court to quash the permission for a further ten million passengers a year on an extra 63 flights a day - most of them coming over Suffolk, parts of which are already plagued by jet noise.

After the case SSE said the judgement was confusing and the group was now seeking leave to appeal.

It felt the wording of the government's decision to approve the extra ten million passengers a year could compromise its case at a future public inquiry to consider a second runway at Stansted.

SSE accused government ministers of not taking into account the millions of tonnes of carbon the extra flights would pump into the atmosphere, the economic impact, and the noise from planes suffered by people living below flightpaths.

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Ministers said they had considered these issues but there was an urgent need for extra runway capacity and the benefits outweighed the disadvantages.

SSE campaign director Carol Barbone said: “This High Court action was never simply about winning or losing.

“Our primary concern was to ensure that our main battle against a second Stansted runway was not prejudiced by the wording of the original decision.

“However, today's ruling seems to make matters even less clear than they were before. That is why we are seeking leave to appeal.”

SSE welcomed the judge's ruling that the impact of the additional aircraft noise from the expansion of Stansted is a legitimate consideration to be taken into account during the decision-making process, but believes it should have been given more weight.

It is still concerned though about the impact on climate change issue because it appears it does not have to be taken into account when deciding whether planning permission should be granted.

Stansted airport owners BAA welcomed the “unequivocal and resounding rejection” of SSE's High Court challenge.

Commercial and development director Nick Barton said: “We are very pleased with today's decision; it's the right decision, and one we fully expected.

“The social and economic case for G1 (maximum use of the current runway) remains strong, and our plans were endorsed by a full and independent public inquiry and a recommendation for approval by the planning inspector.

“As a result, this is a very good day for the millions of people who need and want to fly to visit their friends and family, go on well-earned holidays or travel on business.

“It's also great news for the thousands of people who work at the airport, and the countless number of businesses that depend on Stansted right across the region, especially given the current economic conditions we are all facing.

“The decision secures our future and ensures we can continue investing in the airport to deliver sustainable improvements in the passenger experience and airline operations through modern facilities and better service standards.

“We are, and always have been, well aware and sympathetic to the sincerely held concerns of local residents - our neighbours - and others, and we will continue to work hard to deliver the huge social and economic benefits the airport provides while managing its impacts in the most sustainable and responsible way possible.”

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