BSCF - Reasons why April 2009 start for G2 Inquiry is too early

Letter to The Planning Inspectorate


The Planning Inspectorate
4/02 Kite Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6PN
3 November 2008

PROPOSED SECOND RUNWAY AT STANSTED AIRPORT (‘Stansted G2')
Your ref: PINS 71

Thank you for sending me the Inspector's note and agenda for the pre-inquiry meeting on 10 November which I hope to attend.

In para 4.1 of his note, Mr Phillipson asks that he should be informed as soon as possible if any party believes that the inquiry should not start on 15 April 2009. The Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation believes that it would be premature to start the inquiry on that date. This letter sets out our reasons.

The application is contrary to Government policy

The Air Transport White Paper 2003 makes clear the Government's intention that best or full use should be made of Stansted Airport's existing runway before expansion by means of a second runway is entertained. The recent decision by the Government to permit the Airport to expand from 25 to 35 mppa does not represent best or full use of the existing runway. This application appears to avoid best or full use of the existing runway and is thus premature.

There is no demand for the proposed facilities

Passenger throughput at the Airport has declined for the last two years and the global economic crisis is likely to depress demand still further, particularly for discretionary leisure travel which is the predominant type of demand at the Airport. A single runway is likely to provide sufficient capacity to meet demand for many years to come. The Airport's major airline customers do not support this application. There is no demand for these proposals at this juncture.

The future intentions of the Airport's owner are unknown

The Competition Commission has concluded provisionally that BAA should be required to divest itself of Stansted Airport. If that remains its final conclusion, the identity of Stansted Airport's new owner and their views on G2 are unlikely to be known by 15 April. Even if BAA are allowed to retain ownership of the Airport the Competition Commission may attach conditions to that permission which could cause BAA to reconsider these expansion plans. A delay until the owner's intentions are clear would lead to a more efficient use of inquiry time if, indeed, an inquiry is still appropriate.

The rail element of the surface access strategy is unknown

The then Secretary of State for Transport announced in March 2008 that she had invited Network Rail to study and bring forward proposals for capacity enhancement on the West Anglia Main Line. No deadline was set for this study and no report on it has yet been made. Since this has superseded BAA's G2 rail enhancement proposals, there is no information on which to base a judgment on the timeliness and the adequacy of any enhancements which would be provided in support of G2. The impact of an enlarged Airport on regular rail users is a major concern of Bishop's Stortford residents and we do not want their interests to be disregarded as they appear to have been in the Government's G1 decision.

The noise impact of G2 on Bishop's Stortford is unknown

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) are in the midst of a consultation exercise on use of airspace in London Terminal Control North. As a result of representations made, they are looking further at their proposals for departures and arrival routes/holds for Stansted Airport. BAA's G2 application did not in any case take NATS original proposals into account. Bishop's Stortford is the largest settlement nearest to the Airport to be affected by these proposals and our residents need to know what will finally be decided in order to understand the impact that G2 would have on them.

Conclusion

Since the G2 application is contrary to Government policy, there is no demand for the proposed facilities and no urgency to provide them, the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation believes that the start of the G2 inquiry should be postponed until the future intentions of the Airport's owner have been clarified, the rail strategy to support the expansion of the Airport has been published and the management of airspace has been settled so that the noise impact can be assessed.

Finally, I should mention that if and when the inquiry takes place, if it is organised on a topic basis the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation would prefer to present all its evidence on a single occasion rather than having to reappear several times.

JOHN RHODES
Vice Chairman
Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation