Updated Monday 16th February 2004
Airport Legal Challenge
Hertfordshire County Council has joined with a number of other local authorities in launching a legal challenge to the Government's recommendation of a second runway at Stansted.
Four local authorities are mounting a challenge to the decision in December that would see a second runway open by 2011. Other authorities are expected to join the action, which is based on shortcomings of the consultation that led up to the decision.
In a statement, the County Council's Executive Member for Environment, Derrick Ashley, said "We have examined carefully the case for a legal challenge to Government's decision to expand Luton and Stansted Airports. It is now time to act on what we believe are unlawful decisions."
"There is also so much uncertainty surrounding the emerging Regional Planning Guidance and the demand to build houses in the Stansted M11 corridor, with little assurance of how our infrastructure is going to cope."
"We will continue to work closely with like-minded authorities to keep up the pressure on the Government and will fight to ensure that the views of local people are heard."
The government has proposed building up to three news runways at Stansted Airport as one of the options being considered to deal with an expected threefold increase in air passengers over the next 30 years.
The addition of the new runways would make the airport larger than Heathrow and increase it's current capacity of 13 million to 122 million.
The effects of the expansion would be widespread and dramatic. Huge areas of land would be required and many homes and villages will be destroyed. The increase in air traffic in the skies around Stansted would be massive and substantially impact of the quality of life for those in the surrounding areas through increased noise and pollution. In addition, accompanying development in terms of supporting infrastructure and new homes would swallow up vast areas of unspoilt countryside.
Moreover, government plans for a big increase in housebuilding in the home counties raises fears that the entire region will become urbanised.
The government launched a consultation exercise in Autumn 2002 and was expected to announce its' final plans in the Spring of 2003.
However, a judicial review was brought by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and a handful of councils, who argued that it was wrong for the government to exclude Gatwick Airport from their list of options. Justice Maurice Kay, presiding, agreed, calling the exclusion "illogical".
During late 2002, Herts County Council organised a number of public meetings to discuss the issue of airport expansion, having already voiced its' strong opposition to the plans. East Herts District Council too voiced it's serious concerns.
In response, the government issued a second consultation document in March 2003, which retained the options for Stansted. This consultation closed in June 2003.
A government White Paper published on 16th December 2003 recommended a second runway at Stansted, catering for an extra 46 million passengers a year. The runway would be privately financed by the airport's owner, BAA, and open by 2011.
The government has said that it will not provide financial support for the building of the new runway. As well as funding the runway, BAA will also have to seek planning permission, as well as facing legal action from organisations that oppose the runway, such as local authorities and even airlines.
BAA cannot raise landing charges at Stansted following a ruling from the Civil Aviation Authority that caps the charges for the next five years. In addition, funds cannot be raised by increasing charges at other airports as the CAA prohibits cross-subsidies.
To read more about the Government Consultation on The Future Development of Air Transport visit www.airconsult.gov.uk.
Second Runway Recommended
Second Consultation Issued
Public Meeting at County Hall