Are stark business and tourism warnings over delays to Stansted airport expansion plans simply 'project fear'?

PUBLISHED: 10:39 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:28 10 September 2019

Passengers at the terminal concourse at Stansted Airport  Picture: LUCY MARTIN

Passengers at the terminal concourse at Stansted Airport Picture: LUCY MARTIN

Lucy Martin/Stansted Airport

Campaigners fighting Stansted airport expansion plans have accused its supporters - which include business and tourism bodies - of orchestrating 'project fear'.

Departures at Stansted Airport, which is seeking to expand its passenger numbers, but has faced delays to its application  
Picture: TIM WINTERDepartures at Stansted Airport, which is seeking to expand its passenger numbers, but has faced delays to its application Picture: TIM WINTER

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) remains at loggerheads with the airport over its plans to raise the ceiling on passenger numbers at the Essex airport to 43m.

The campaign group hit out at strongly-worded warnings from local and national chambers of commerce and Visit East of England about the economic damage they claim council delays to granting permission is causing.

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Chambers have called on the government to intervene after the approval process was stalled at Uttlesford District Council following a change of administration at the May 2019 elections.

The Conservative administration was wiped out and replaced by the Residents 4 Uttlesford party, which says it is reviewing Section 106 mitigation measures in the proposals, with a view to holding a planning meeting at an autumn date to be decided.

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Meanwhile, SSE has been pressing for a judicial review of a government decision to allow the matter to be decided at local level. It has secured a three day hearing before Mr Justice Dove in the High Court from November 12 to 14 to puts its case for the matter to be decided at national level.

SSE said business warnings that the delays were putting thousands of jobs at risk was "preposterous".

"Stansted Airport and its friends in the business community need to get real - both in relation to the dubious economic benefits of expanding Stansted Airport and the far-reaching environmental consequences," said SSE deputy chairman Brian Ross.

"They should also desist from seeking to bully and intimidate the democratically elected local council members who have a responsibility to consider the wider picture, not only narrow commercial interests."

An airport spokesman repeated its frustration at the delay to the plans, which it estimates would create 5,000 new jobs. "We have repeatedly expressed our concern that Uttlesford District Council has not only chosen to ignore the recommendations of its own officers but also disregarded two sets of independent legal advice which both supported the original view that there is no legitimate reason to withhold approval for our application."

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