Airport expansion? Chaos!

** Updated ** March 2010 

BAA says it is ‘fully committed’ to pushing 2nd runway plans forward – threatening to bring a possible 3 additional years to this already 8 year period of uncertainty.  Read BAA’s reply to the Secretary of State’s letter. 


The latest news about Stansted could see BAA literally going back to the drawing board when it comes to their second runway plans.

Last week began with a welcome announcement regarding airport expansion in the UK.  On Tuesday the new owners at Gatwick were promising not to consider a second runway there until at least 2019. Although a new runway isn’t technically an available option until then anyway, this at least reassured interested parties like us that the ancient woodland surrounding the airport might be safe for a while longer – although we remain on our guard, as do the community-led Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign who are also our coalition partners in Airport Watch. The Gatwick sale was forced by last year’s Competition Commission decision to break up BAA’s monopoly. 

The Oak tree planted by Terry Waite in 2004 at the SEE Wood in protest against another runway.

At Stansted, however, the fate of 6 ancient woodlands remains undetermined.  On Wednesday, fresh from an Appeal against the Competition Commission’s decision that they must also sell Stansted as well, BAA was back in the spotlight as it was asked to officially state whether it intended to carry on with its current application for another runway (known as ‘G2’).

You can read the full document and previous formal correspondence to BAA about G2 at the link above, but the important bit of John Denham’s polite but firm open letter to the airport owners says:

“…it is clear to me that the ownership issues around the airport will not be fully resolved for some time. Taken together with my previous commitment to a minimum of 8 weeks notice between a formal announcement and the start of the inquiry, I have concluded that the inquiry cannot reasonably start until after the next General Election… Additionally, given that the planning applications, orders and associated documentation were originally submitted nearly 2 years ago, I consider there will clearly be a need for the applicant to re-visit some of this material.  This being the case, I would like to invite BAA to advise me formally what their future intentions are, firstly regarding the planning applications and orders, and secondly, if they are to pursue the proposal for a second runway, around the timescales they might envisage.”

The Aviation White Paper set out the apparent need for expansion around the UK 7 years ago at the end of 2003 – with a specific call for the first new runway to be built at Stansted by 2011.  While BAA were challenging the Competition Commission about their right to maintain a monopoly, the Public Inquiry challenging its second runway plans has been delayed (and delayed) in the meantime.  Perhaps running out of patience, the Secretary of State has now publically asking the operator to make its mind up about G2.  We agree – this can’t go on indefinitely. Make your mind up, BAA – it’s over to you.


About Kaye Brennan

Trying vegan, staying warm. Occasional bursts of words.
This entry was posted in Aviation, Climate Change, General election, Government Affairs, Planning, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Airport expansion? Chaos!

  1. Pingback: Could this be the end for Stansted? «

  2. EcoHustler says:

    Grow a brain… then the economy
    By being the only political party that backs a 3rd runway at Heathrow Labour stands out with a special kind of stupid. The rational for inflicting this fresh monstrous wound on our once green and pleasant land is ‘the economy’. Yet again, our politicians, the flabby-faced fluffers of industry, are uttering monotonously, like the grinding of skulls, the vile mantra: ‘must grow the economy, must grow the economy…’

  3. Keith W says:

    When we learn that we are killing the planet, and trees are our lungs.

  4. Kaye says:

    Hello Sally – thanks for your comment.

    Sadly the UK’s ancient woodland cover has halved since the 1930’s. And in the last decade more than 100 square miles (26,000 hectares) of ancient woodland in the UK has come under threat from destruction or degradation – equivalent to an area the size of Birmingham – from development such as housing estates, roads and larger infrastructure such as airport expansion. In theory, these woodlands are protected by national policy and should not be developed. However, loopholes in the system allow this protection to be over-ridden if a developer can prove an ‘economic need’.

    If these woods were buildings they would be protected to the highest Grading. But natural heritage is not afforded the same importance, despite the fact many ancient woodland sites date back far beyond that of the built environment.

    With regards to your concerns for the trees around your local area and the River Nene, Forest Research are monitoring the spread of phytopthora, you might like to go to the attached link for the Forestry Commission where at the bottom of the page there is a list of who does what, this will let you know who you can contact for this enquiry:

    Thansk again, hope this is useful

  5. Sally says:

    I believe there is a much greater threat than those presented by roads, airports and buildings. Many trees of many different species are rotting and falling, all around the village where I live and all along the River Nene. I believe it may be Phytophthora Ramorum or Phtyophthora Kernoviae which are notifiable diseases, but despite persistant efforts, I have been unable to persuade anyone to test the sites. What should I do?…

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