Key figures share thoughts before important Stansted Airport meeting today

Ken O'Toole, the chief executive of Stansted Airport. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Ken O'Toole, the chief executive of Stansted Airport. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Key parties, group and airport representatives have shared their thoughts ahead of a planning committee meeting organised at Uttlesford District Council (UDC) today, January 24 from 11am.

Green Party: Edward Gildea.

Green Party: Edward Gildea. - Credit: Archant

Ken O'Toole, Chief Executive at the London Stansted Airport, said that an independent assessment from council officers and legal experts showed the final approval of the application would have "no significant harm" through the airport's expansion, in terms or air quality, carbon, noise and transport.

As the council prepares to debate the application to increase annual passenger numbers at the airport, which was approved in November 2018, Mr O'Toole said in an open letter to local residents:

"This increase included a legal commitment to not add any more flights than the government gave us permission for back in 2008. We are able to do this because of three reasons: 1) aircraft technology is developing all the time, meaning short-haul aircraft, which make up most services at Stansted, are getting slightly bigger, as well as quieter and more fuel-efficient; 2) we are anticipating these aircraft will be fuller; 3) Stansted will attract additional long-haul carriers which operate larger aircraft.

"Growth will hopefully mean exciting new airlines flying to places local people and businesses want to reach all over the world."

Conservative Cllr Christian Criscione. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Conservative Cllr Christian Criscione. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

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The Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group said that, if approved, the plan would see 15 million passengers more per year, accounting for a 54% increase, and an additional 75,000 flights a year.

SSE added that its repeated warnings were backed in last Friday's planning meeting by health expert professor Jangu Banatvala CBE from Henham. The professor's assessment was endorsed by practising Thaxted GP, Dr Mike Tayler.

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SSE said: "New evidence was presented showing that emissions of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, would increase significantly if the airport expansion proposals were to be approved. It is inhaled and translocated to organs and tissues, which can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

"The new research has also identified links between PM2.5 and damage to the central nervous system and has shown that there is no safe limit for PM2.5. Research by King's College London also showed that ultrafine particles generated by aircraft taking off can be detected up to 14 miles away from the airport."

The group also mentioned increased noise and related health issues such as stress and sleep disturbance, and said the noise from Stansted Airport is already over the new exposure limits recommended by the World Health Organisation, adding:

"Stansted Airport is the largest single source of carbon emissions in the East of England and aviation is the fastest growing contributor to global climate change. Uttlesford District Council had declared a climate emergency and pledged to achieve zero net carbon emissions by 2030."

Edward Gildea, Green Party spokesman, said: "Our individual choices of fossil fuel driven car, holiday destination, heating system… none of these are individually significant. The trouble is that none of us is alone on this planet; we share it with billions of others who can all claim that their lifestyle choices are of no significance.

"Stansted is no more alone than any of us. It is one of six London airports wanting to expand.

"Mr O'Toole does not quantify the millions of additional tonnes of carbon dioxide the airport is planning to release into the atmosphere, nor the annual projected total of 13.6 tonnes of harmful PM2.5 carbon particles which are associated with lung, heart and other diseases.

"We want growth and jobs. But let's make them the new green jobs of a sustainable economy that generates clean energy, re-connects us with the planet, gives us healthier lives and happy futures for our children."

Conservative councillor Christian Criscione asked for a "definitive decision" to be made during today's meeting:

"Deferral will not serve any purpose and will cost the Council greatly in terms of legal challenge, public perception and our relationship with our greatest economic asset, Stansted Airport.

"I have sympathy for both sides of the debate: our economic strength as a region and the need for enhancement of our environment respectively, but this is not about either of those. This decision relates specifically to the nature of our decision making and thus it is up to your committee to define how strong we are as a council moving forward."

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