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Stop Stansted Expansion ('SSE') has slammed Uttlesford District Council ('UDC') for preparing to rush through final approval of expansion at Stansted Airport to 43 million passengers per annum ('mppa') whilst at the same time accepting a totally inadequate package of mitigation measures.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: "For almost two years, UDC leadership has insisted that determining this airport planning application at local level would ensure the maximum benefits for the local community. That promise is about to be totally betrayed."
Peter Sanders added: "It beggars belief that our local council would be willing to short change its own residents – and knowingly so. Instead of holding out until a fairer agreement for its residents could be negotiated with Stansted Airport, UDC appears intent on rushing through this shabby and defective deal before next month's local elections."
When UDC controversially approved the Stansted Airport planning application last November [Note 1], the issue was already subject to a legal challenge by Stop Stansted Expansion ('SSE') – which is still ongoing – and there were two other conditions to be met:
1) The Communities Secretary had to decide not to 'call in' the planning application for consideration at national level; and 
2) Stansted Airport Ltd ('STAL') had to enter into a satisfactory 'Section 106' agreement setting out the local mitigation package it would provide, such as sound insulation for nearby properties, support for community projects, funding for local road improvements etc.
The first of the above two obstacles was cleared on 20 March when the Communities Secretary announced that he would not be calling in the application [Note 2].
UDC is now poised to rubber stamp STAL's proposed mitigation package despite the fact that it is vastly inferior to almost any comparable mitigation provided by other major UK airports. UDC leadership is aware that STAL is offering far less to the local community compared to what is provided by almost every other UK airport, and yet, inexplicably, seems intent on accepting STAL's proposals and is rushing to have the Section 106 Agreement signed and sealed before the local elections on 2 May.
Just taking two examples:
A) STAL is offering £150,000 per annum for local good causes. At 43 mppa this equates to less than 0.4 pence per passenger. By comparison, Heathrow and Gatwick both provide 1.1 pence per passenger, which is the average for all UK major airports. Manchester Airport and Stansted Airport are at the bottom of the league table, providing the least support for local good causes amongst all the major UK airports. For Stansted to match the UK average of 1.1 pence per passenger it would require a contribution of three times the £150,000 currently proposed, and which Uttlesford seems content to accept. [Note 3].
B) STAL's proposed sound insulation scheme offers up to £10,000 for homes within the 63dB noise contour whilst Heathrow is offering sound insulation for all homes within the 60dB noise contour, with no financial cap. A difference of 3dB may not appear large but around Stansted Airport there are just 115 homes in the 63dB noise contour but three times as many – 350 – in the 60dB contour. Uttlesford is aware, from a Department for Transport (DfT) comparison, that the proposed Stansted scheme is vastly inferior to the Heathrow scheme. Furthermore, the Government published proposals last December to extend the noise insulation threshold from the current 63dB contour to the 60dB contour [Note 4]. Nevertheless UDC seems determined to agree to STAL's proposal and accept second class treatment for Uttlesford residents.
Peter Sanders concluded: "Thank goodness SSE had the foresight last year to initiate legal proceedings to challenge UDC's handling of this planning application. We repeat our plea to UDC to delay its finalisation of this controversial Stansted Airport planning application until the legal proceedings have run their course."
If UDC ignores this advice and issues its final approval of the airport planning application regardless of the widespread concerns, SSE would have no choice but to join UDC into the current legal proceedings. SSE has offered to meet UDC Chief Executive in order to try to avoid this outcome, or at least minimise the scope of legal proceedings, which would inevitably give rise to significant costs for local council taxpayers as well as for those who voluntarily contribute to SSE's fighting fund (very often the same people).
Regrettably the Council appears to be in such a rush to finalise the approval that no-one from UDC is prepared to find time even to discuss the issue with SSE.
1. The Stansted Airport Planning Application for 43mppa was approved by the Chairman's (additional) casting vote after UDC Planning Committee was evenly split (five for and five against), as follows:

Councillors who voted against the expansion to 43mppa 
Paul Fairhurst - Residents for Uttlesford, Saffron Walden Shire 
Richard Freeman - Residents for Uttlesford, Saffron Walden Castle 
Anthony Gerard - Residents for Uttlesford, Newport 
Mark Lemon - Conservative (formerly Independent), Hatfield Heath 
Janice Loughlin - Liberal Democrat, Stort Valley
Councillors who voted in favour of the expansion to 43mppa 
Robert Chambers - Conservative, Littlebury, Chesterford and Wendon Lofts 
Eric Hicks - Conservative, Great Dunmow South and Barnston 
Alan Mills (Chairman) - Conservative, Felsted and Stebbing 
Howard Ryles - Conservative, Takeley 
Lesley Wells - Conservative, Broad Oak and the Hallingburys
2. SSE is currently pursuing legal challenges against both the Transport Secretary and the Communities Secretary over their refusal to 'call in' the airport planning application for national consideration.
3. The £150,000 would be locked in for ten years subject only to an annual increase to offset inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. In practice the amount would be slightly more than £150,000 because at all major UK airports it is standard procedure for any noise fines levied on airlines (£8,400 at Stansted in 2017) to be added to the Community Fund.
4. STAL 43mppa Planning Application, Environmental Statement Volume 2, Appendix 7.3, para 25.1.2 and "Aviation 2050: The future of UK aviation", Department for Transport, Dec 2018, para 3.122.
• Peter Sanders, SSE Chairman, T 01799 520411; 
• Brian Ross, SSE Deputy Chairman: 01279 814961; (M) 07850 937143 
• SSE Campaign Office: 01279 870558;
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Stop Stansted Expansion ('SSE') confirmed today [26 March] that it will commence legal proceedings to challenge last week's decision [20 March] by the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire not to intervene in the decision by Uttlesford District Council ('UDC') to approve the expansion of Stansted Airport to 43 million passengers per annum ('mppa').  
The Communities Secretary explained that his reason for not intervening was that "the application does not involve issues of more than local importance". SSE considers this conclusion to be completely at odds with the facts.
The truth is that over half of Stansted's passengers are either London residents or London visitors and its official designation, 'London Stansted Airport', is intended to emphasise its position as London's third airport after Heathrow and Gatwick. In addition, within the next month or two, Stansted is expected to overtake Manchester to become the UK's third busiest airport. Meanwhile, Stansted has fewer local employees than 15 years ago despite the airport's growth. Nowadays, over 84% of its employees are not Uttlesford residents.
The noise, air pollution, community health and road traffic impacts of Stansted are felt far beyond the borders of Uttlesford, and the 3.7 million equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide attributable to Stansted Airport this year will have significant adverse impacts not only at a national level but also internationally [Note 1].  
In short, SSE believes that the Communities Secretary is both factually wrong and wrong in law to say that the further expansion of Stansted to become almost as big as today's Gatwick does not involve issues of more than local importance, and so does not justify his intervention.
Paradoxically, the Chairman of UDC Planning Committee [Note 2] gave Brexit as his reason for using his additional casting vote to ensure that the application was approved (after his Committee was split down the middle) saying that there was a need to consider the wider picture, beyond the impacts on Uttlesford.  
SSE's legal proceedings will take the form of an application to the High Court for a Judicial Review ('JR') of the decision of the Communities Secretary not to call in the Stansted Airport planning application. SSE already has an outstanding JR application against the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, over his decision of 28 June 2018 to allow the airport planning application to be determined locally by UDC [Note 3]. This case was originally scheduled for a two-day High Court hearing in February but has been 'stayed’ by the Judge to await the decision of the Communities Secretary, referred to above.  
SSE is due to provide the Judge with an update on 29 March and has previously notified the High Court that it would seek to widen its challenge to include both Secretaries of State in the event of James Brokenshire taking the same line as Chris Grayling in refusing to consider the airport planning application at national level. SSE's barristers will confirm this position to the Judge on 29 March and seek directions regarding the timetable and other arrangements for a rescheduled hearing against the two Secretaries of State.  
In the meantime, SSE solicitors have written to UDC pointing out that it would be inappropriate for UDC to issue any decision in relation to the airport planning application whilst these legal challenges are pending. It is hoped that UDC will agree to this and thereby avoid the risk of becoming embroiled in the legal proceedings.  
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: "As we've said in the past, High Court proceedings are not cheap and so we do not take such actions lightly but only after careful thought and professional advice. SSE's primary objective is to seek to safeguard the community and environment from unfettered and unsustainable airport expansion. Regrettably, legal proceedings are sometimes an unavoidable part of trying to achieve this objective." 
1. See 
2. Councillor Alan Mills – Conservative member for Felsted and Stebbing, 14 November 2018.
3. See SSE press release of 9 August 2018 at

• Brian Ross, SSE Deputy Chairman: 01279 814961; (M) 07850 937143
• SSE Campaign Office: 01279 870558;